Saturday, December 13, 2008

March 2007-Belfast

NOTE: Sorry this post has become so mangled over the past two days. Being a fresh little blogger muffin straight from the oven, I'm still getting used to the format and posting procedures. 

After a ridiculous work week, it's Friday and I'm itching for a tasty post. I'll keep the text short and let the photos have their say.

In the spring of 2007, a day trip to Belfast sparked interesting discoveries. The city was completely different from the tank-infested combat zone of the 1990s. In the city center, posh shops lined the bustling streets while locals and tourists alike packed trendy restaurants. 

Straying from the CBD, however, the mood changed. The murals of Shankill Road and Falls Road shed light on the lingering tension between Catholic Unionists and Protestant Loyalists. On Falls Road, "Free Palestine" and "Santa is a British agent" stretched across whole buildings. These Unionist messages sharply contrasted the "Years of Resistance" and "Never Surrender" murals on Loyalist Shankill Road. Negotiations and treaties may have quelled the violence, but the historical roots of the problem are on display in this snug square mile.

What surprised me most about the trip was how disconnected I felt. Despite my Irish decent, I viewed the murals from a historian's perspective. Growing up miles from the source, I could not connect to the strong emotions fueling the fire. This conflict was never mine. I appreciate the Einstein stencil because he captured the absurdity that I felt. His playful face didn't fit in the middle of West Belfast and neither did I. Someday, I'd love to return and wrap my head around this complex city.

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