Belfast Days

Women's Voices Matter quilt on Shankill Road
My maternal grandmother came to Canada from County Antrim before World War One. There was only one Ireland then and this part of my family were Presbyterians of Ulster Scottish stock. I never studied much about Irish history in school but I am old enough to remember hearing about The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Last Sunday, I visited Belfast where I attended Fitzroy Presbyterian Church. I have not  attended
a Presbyterian church before but I expected the stiff and stern ways of 100 years ago when my grandma left. Not so! The service was casual and upbeat with two vocalists and a fiddle. Most of the 
2 hour (yes, 2 full hours) service was about the church's sponsorship of a village in Uganda. 

This young man is a hero to some people in the Protestant housing area.

In the afternoon, we took the Black Cab Tour of Belfast to learn about The Troubles. William, our driver and guide, has been showing visitors the murals and the Peace Wall since 1999. He was an
objective, pro-peace narrator. We were unable to discern to which group he belonged. He later confided that his background was Protestant but that, when he was a boy, his grandmother had threatened to kill him herself if he got involved with the paramilitary groups.

We started at Shankill Road where William of Orange and Oliver Cromwell were heroes for their oppression of the Catholic Irish. Even after the Peace Accord, young men still fight for old and irrelevant causes.

Then we visited Falls Road where the Catholic heroes are depicted.
Apparently, the gates between the Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods are still closed at night at several points. On Falls Road, in the Catholic neighbourhood, we saw murals depicting those who had been imprisoned or killed for their beliefs.
outside of Belfast through the bus window

Ireland is a beautiful green country. During our 2 and a half weeks, we have met so many friendly and helpful people in both The Republic and in Northern Ireland. There is a piece of public art on Shankill Road that says: Remember, Respect, Resolve. Ironically, or not, it is behind an iron fence.
Two seats are located inside the fence but no one can sit on them. It is difficult to give up our old ways of thinking and to learn acceptance and forgiveness.


  1. Ireland sounds and looks so beautiful ♥ Nice photos ♥


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