Atlantis Alumni

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Present Day Life in Belfast

Belfast is a complex city from a historical point of view. Our tour of the city started out at the dock area, where an entire museum is devoted to the Titanic,which was built and first sailed from Belfast. Then we went to the center of the city, and saw such sights as the Parliament building, the City Hall and Queen's University. Our guide John was very eloquent about the 'Conflict' that claimed 4,000 lives between the 1860s and 1990, when Clinton and others arranged a peace which still lasts today. More than a religious conflict, though religion played a strong part in the origin of the wars, the Conflict tore Belfast apart. Today both the "Unionists" (those who consider Northern Ireland part of Great Britain) and the Nationalists (those who view Ulster as part of Republican Ireland,) have seats in the local Parliament. But the Unionists also can claim a seat in London's Parliament, and the Sinn Fein members can sit in Dublin's Parliament. Thus, no flags fly from public buildings here because either the Union Jack or the Irish Republic flag would offend the other party. We drove through both Union and Nationalist neighborhoods and stopped to photograph the terrible "Wall of Separation" which separated Catholic from Protestant areas of West Belfast. Mementos and wall murals everywhere document the conflict, and our guide hoped that the future generations would not hold onto the past. In his opinion, someday the Wall should be demolished. Our final stop on the tour was much more peaceful: Belfast Castle. It's a 19th century building with a lovely garden and spectacular views of the mountains and ocean near the city. This city has a turbulent and dramatic past, but hopefully has started to heal in the past 25 years.-Dan

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