04 April 2016

Seeing Beauty and Division in Northern Ireland

My sabbatical journal writing was on hold over the past fortnight as my family was on holiday.  Our first of two trips took us to Northern Ireland.  We visited Ireland seven years ago during my first sabbatical.  Getting to Northern Ireland completes the last big piece in the "seeing the UK" puzzle for us.  We stayed in Belfast, which is a beautiful city.  To get a great look at the city, we did a little hiking toward Cavehill.  I snapped the photo below on our way up (click on the image for a larger view).
Hiking the hills mostly north of the city was a lot of fun.  Leave it to Northern Ireland to give us lots of green!

We toured the northern coast of Northern Ireland and were met with breathtaking vistas.  Picking a representative photo for this blog post wasn't easy.  I selected one I took looking back toward the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge that we crossed to the teensy island of Carrickarede (click on the image for a larger view).
And of course we had to visit Giant's Causway.  Seeing those 40,000 basalt columns blew me away.  I felt like I was living geology from 50 million years ago.  One of my daughters snapped the photo below (click on the image for a larger view).
Touring the city of Belfast proved to be quite an education.  We hired a Catholic Republican loyalist to take us on a taxi tour of the locations made famous by The Troubles.  Though from the Catholic point of view, I'll never forget the stories we heard from our guide.  We wrote on the Peace Wall, something hard for me to conceive.  Check out the photo below (click on the image for a larger view).
We were on the Catholic side of the Peace Wall and the people living to the left of the wall in the photo have put cages on their property to protect themselves from flying objects, like bricks.  I simply can't imagine what it's like living under such conditions.

I'll write about our second holiday trip tomorrow in which we got to see another famous wall.

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