Published: March 3rd 2011March 1st 2011
the fighting in northern ireland is called the troubles...
Today I'm writing about my first trip out of Ireland... well sort of. Last weekend we took a trip up to Belfast and the Giant's Causeway. Both of them are in Northern Ireland... which is still part of the UK while still being part of Ireland. Regardless, we got to see signs in miles and had to switch over our money to pounds for the weekend.
If anyone has heard about Belfast, you have probably heard about The Troubles, and the continuing fighting between the Protestant loyalists and the Catholic nationalists. While the number of shootings and bombings have greatly decreased since the '90s, they still do occur in certain areas. However, we'll get to that later.
On Friday, we only had a few hours to explore the city before meeting back with our group for dinner. During that time, we got to the city council building (which was amazing), and found a really impressive 'outdoor' mall which had a giant glass dome you could get into to see the entire city. After a great dinner in our hostel, most of us crashed. The trip there (about 6 hours) drained us of all of our energy.
Saturday morning we got up nice and early and headed farther north to the Giant's Causeway. The legend says that a giant from Ireland built a bridge to Scotland to fight their giant. Seeing how big he was, the Irish giant ran home to hide. After some time, the Scottish giant came looking for him, and got scared away by some Irish trickery. On the way home, the Scottish giant tore up the bridge only leaving little bits at the start on either side. This story is way better than the real one, which involves volcanoes and cooling lava and geometry and other random stuff.
The Causeway was amazing, and we were depressed when we found out we only got a few hours there. On the way home, we stopped at a castle on the coast, and were angered even more when we only got 15 minutes there. After being delivered back to Belfast, we immediately regretted our prior adventures the night before as there was nothing else to do in that part of the city. There are some very impressive areas on the far side of the city, but that would have involved getting taxis and worrying
about getting back in time for our next group dinner.
That night we headed to a hotel for a nice dinner, then went out with one of our tour guides to a great pub about ten minutes from the hostel. While there, one of the girls randomly met someone from her home college who just happened to be in Belfast and our tour guide met an old friend that he hasn't seen in years (small world eh?).
Sunday we woke up and went to a presentation on the murals in Belfast made by the two sides of the troubles. After it was over, we had a quick lunch and got a tour of the city. We got to see where the Titanic was built, where the Belfast Giant's ice hockey team play (one of the players from RIT plays for them now... small world again), as well as some other major buildings. But the best part of the trip was when we went into the distinct catholic and protestant districts to see the murals and the peace wall that separated their areas. The peace wall was anything but a peaceful wall. It was probably 20 feet tall with
chain link fence on top of that and barbed wire to boot. Also, they lock down gates at night and during protest times so that you can't even get from one area to the next.
With another wonderfully cramped 6 hour drive, we found ourselves back in the Republic of Ireland. We might be tired, sore and slightly sick, but it was a great weekend. Next stop is either Cork or Dingle (hehe I said dingle). But for now I'll be enjoying RAG week at UL. (raising and giving week). It's a charity week, but its mainly an excuse to get outside and do crazy things. We have wonderful weather, and wonderful events, so I'm outta here.
There are more photos below