Northern Ireland, a place of former turmoil is where my most recent excursion has taken me. !Warning! History lesson about to begin. Many people are familiar with the term “The Troubles.” This correlates to a time where Protestant and Catholics hatred grew into great violence. Now using the terms Protestant and Catholic is a very loose and not fully representative term for the true nature of the violence, but it is a simplistic way of describing the sides. During these times it was not uncommon for there to be deaths and shootings daily. There was a wide variety of strikes and protests. Cities became greatly segregated, and remain so. Walls were put up to divide the two distinct sides of the conflict.
In the current time Northern Ireland has enjoyed a state of grace for the past few years, however it is still rich with tension. This tension can be felt in the air as you walk down the street and seen in the elaborate murals painted on walls and buildings. The murals range from aggressive opinions to future prosperity. It is an unique experience to stand on the wall of Derry and see Irish flags on one side and British flags on the other. Additionally there is a mural saying “Free Derry” and on the other it reads “still under siege, no surrender.” These aspects alone create a tense atmosphere. This same tension can be felt in Belfast.
Now despite these tensions it did not hinder thee great experience. Fellow students and I were fortunate enough to be in Derry for Halloween. This is a big event in Derry as it draws crowds well over 50,000. It contains a parade which presents spectacular floats and displays. After the parade there is a fireworks show which was an impressive spectacle. I sported a purple morph suit this year for Halloween.
The end of this excursion signifies the near end of my study abroad experience. My academic semester officially ends November 26th. That is 19 days. I have one more excursion which will take me to Cork and Kilkenny. It is with this final experience that I will say farewell to the Emerald Isle and be bound for home.