Impressions of Belfast

UPDATED - Full Post below
*Disclaimer - I mean no offence to anyone in this post, this is simply the observations and impressions of a tourist
So irritating, I had this entire post trying to publish when IE and Blogger shit themselves and it deleted all the text.
So. Belfast was not what I expected and the beautiful sunny day did even more to make the experience surreal. We did a Black Cab Tour, where an ordinary taxi comes and picks you up, and then he drives you to the "trouble spots" and gives a good background and narrative of the events in the areas. Highly recommend it if you go to Belfast.
Belfast Black Cab Tour- Protestant Murals
This is a wide shot of the Protestant area's murals. There must be 15 or so within sight of the spot this photo is taken on.
Belfast Black Cab Tour- Protestant Murals (5)
I thought this mural was weird, as its essentially commemorating a United Freedom Fighter (UFF) Commander, who is known to have perpetrated some of the attacks on Catholics. I couldn't help but wonder if the families of the dead found it offensive.
Interestingly though, you'll note the year he died, 2000, after the ceasefire, he was killed in retaliation to an attack from the UHF, or, HIS OWN SIDE. The two Protestant factions are now squabbling with each other for control of that modern scourge, the Belfast Drug Trade.
The Peace Wall/ Peace Line -
Belfast Black Cab Tour - Peace Wall (4)
I've really struggled to articulate for myself what the impact the Peace Wall had upon me. Words like creepy, bizarre are bandied about in my head. I just find it baffling really. Even having seen it, I still struggle to relate it to how their everyday lives must be.
I mean, who wants to live near a giant wall for your own safety? But as the driver said, politicians can't pull it down, the people that live with it and near it have to want to pull it down. They don't seem in any rush though.
There's even these massive iron/steel automatic gates that close at night. During the day passage is unhindered between each side, but at 10pm these big sheet doors automatically close and you have to go all the way round, for kilometres in parts, to get to the other side.
Belfast Black Cab Tour - Catholic Side of Peace Wall, cages to protect the houses from bombs
This shot is from the Catholic side, where the houses are built right up to the wall. The cages are built onto the back of the homes so that if and when projectiles are tossed over the wall, they roll off the cage and land at the base of the concrete wall. So if said "projectile" explodes, the wall bears the brunt of the explosion, not the home, saving lives. Yep, thats bombs we're talking about.

Belfast was impacting because of how recent the events are that were discussed. That people go to war about whether they're part of the United Kingdom or not strikes me as weird. I couldn't help but wonder how different would their lives really be if they joined the Republic of Ireland in the south and became their own country. Why does it matter so much?
I suppose I just can't see Australian's caring so much about anything that didn't involve a bat, ball, pool or stadium.

3 kindred spirits ~ This bugs them too!:

Network Geek said...
October 31, 2008 8:00 AM

Hate, in all its varied formats, is rather baffling, more so at an institutional level like this. It's crazy no matter how you slice it.

Laura said...
October 31, 2008 5:22 PM

How long did u stay in northern ireland for?? Did you see any of the pretty little towns? Gee I miss it. I never really got impacted by the whole bombing-each-other situation, cos I didn't live in the centre of it - it's pretty isolated to those 'troubled' areas of Belfast. It is a little baffling how people can think it's ok to bomb each other, although it's really no different to the cronulla riots (and ensuing assaults), or the probs with the muslim school in camden, nsw... In every country, there's people who get all fired up about things that don't really matter. It's pretty sad really.

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