We arrive in Belfast, the Capital of Northern Ireland, and we decide to hop on a tour bus.
Belfast City Hall
We drive by the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Irish built the Titanic.
Titanic memorial representing the iceberg that sunk the Titanic
We jumped off the bus get at the Northern Irish Parliament
and walk down the long road leading to the Parliament.
The road parks on both sides. 🙂
The hike down the long road ends because Julian and Max want to go on a fast spinning ride at the park. I spin them for a few minutes, then other kid gets on and I am so still spinning the ride. A few minutes later Julian steps of the ride and is sick. I guess it was too much spinning. However, he and Max still want to try out the slide. Enough park rides… we walk back to the parliament building and catch the next tour bus. The bus drives us through the separated Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods that are separated by the Peace Wall.
The opposing groups in this conflict are often called “Republicans” and “Loyalists” , they are also referred to as “Nationalists” (Irish Nationalism, the Irish are a nation), and “unionists”. Unionism, is also called Ulster Unionism in the political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. Since the separation of the Irish free states from the United Kingdom. as an independent state, unionism in Ireland has focused primarily on maintaining and preserving the place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. The Irish and English to this day are still fighting over Northern Ireland. The Peace Wall separates the Catholics and the Protestants to prevent the two groups from clashing. Ironic.
Riots and fights in Belfast are common so there are big gates and police in big muscle cars patrolling many of the rough neighborhoods.
The “Troubles” was a conflict that raged “nationalist” from 1969 to 1998. Belfast saw some of the worst Troubles in Northern Ireland in this time, particularly in the 1970s, with rival paramilitary groups formed on both sides. Bombing, assassination and street violence formed a backdrop to life throughout the Troubles. The provisional IRA detonated 22 bombs within the confines of Belfast city centre in 1972, on what is known as “Bloody Friday”, killing nine people. Loyalist paramilitaries including the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
and the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) claimed that the killings they carried out were in retaliation for the IRA campaign. Most of their victims were Catholics with no links to the Provisional IRA. To get revenge a group, based on the Shankill Road in the mid-1970s, became known as the Shankill Butchers. In all, over 1,600 people died in political violence in the city between 1969 and 2001.
The Shankill Butchers is the name given to an Loyalist gang that started in the 1970s, many of whom were members of the (UVF). . they were well known for there late-night killings (by throat slashing) kidnappings and torture of random Catholic civilians. The Shankill Butchers killed at least 30 people (including a significant number of there own Protestants) in attacks, paramilitary feuds, personal grudges and bombing raids.
The Protestant side is full of English flags with the Queen on it that say Queens Diamond Jubilee
and then there are lots of murals about the UVF
Protestant boys and Protestants who where killed by the Irish during the Troubles.
On the Catholic side of the wall there are lots of Irish flags and murals of Catholics who where killed or put in prison
and for the IRA.
After the tour we drive over to the Catholic side to find a place to go to mass . We drive past some rough neighborhoods.
We drive past an old and obviously abandoned court house.
We finally find a church.
I go to check if it’s open and there are two kids out side. I ask them where the entrance is located, they say its on the other side but they think its closed. I walk over and the other one throws a rock at me and misses by a mile, then the other kid yells what are you doing !!! Then they both start laughing and then run of yelling…
After finding out the church was closed we go back to the car have some chips and then get some food at some random pub.