Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

Walking down a crowded street on a rainy night in Dublin, we heard the distinct sounds of people watching an outdoor movie.

I can’t specifically say what the noises were – it’s strange how despite the thousands of films in existence, and the myriad of soundtracks and dialogues and moods expressed therein, they all start to sound alike when played through outdoor speakers.

It doesn’t matter if you are watching The Princess Bride or The Exorcist (for my sake, I hope it is the former.) 90% of them have scratchy ambient sound, a bit of heavy-handed dialogue, and a soundtrack by John Williams.

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The Peace walls of Belfast, viewed from a Catholic neighborhood.

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Usually, my WTF Wednesdays are not serious. They have to do with the many odd things I’ve encountered while traveling: inscrutable showers, another passenger’s toes in my personal space, more inscrutable showers … you know, the usual things that make my forehead wrinkle in confusion, then laugh.

This was not the case with the Peace Wall in Belfast. I saw no humor in it. I just stood, slack-jawed, trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

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If you are just popping into my blog, welcome! I am currently in the midst of trying to recap Irish history from, oh, about the 1600s until modern day. It is making my head spin (seriously. I feel like the kid from The Exorcist, but with worse hair). I understand if you’d like to come back next week, when I talk Milwaukee beers and the Green Bay Packers. If you are inclined to stay (thanks, by the way) I suggest you read my posts about Irish history and how the country came to be and how the Troubles first began.

Political murals in Belfast.

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Can I tell you something about myself? I need to admit it, because I think it’s significant, especially as it pertains to the topic of Irish history.

When I was a teenager, in the mid to late 90s, I was petrified of the IRA.

Looking back, this fear seems kind of irrational. After all – Ireland was a long way off from Seattle. (Incidentally, I also had a huge fear of cholera. Just in general.)

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Stained glass window at Stormont.

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After my tome about Irish history, I’ve managed to avoid serious discussion or mention of Irish politics for two whole weeks (I consider this an achievement of sorts. Instead, I talked about Halloween costumes and candy). But the hour has arrived. It is time to talk about the Troubles.

Please note that all caveats expressed last time hold true for this post. Parts of it will be biased, and parts of it will be inaccurate. I am not a historian. I didn’t even do that well in history class in school. I’m struggling to understand most of this myself.

And with that disclaimer, here we go, once again …

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It seems somewhat politically insensitive (or perhaps merely uninformed) to lump all my photos from our Ireland trip together, especially in light of last Monday’s post. I wondered if I should split them up into two posts – 10 photos from our trip to Northern Ireland, and 10 photos from our trip to the Republic.

But there is no border between the two places; we drove seamlessly from Northern Ireland to the Republic, and back again. The countryside remained lovely, the people continued to be friendly, and glasses of Guinness flowed freely on either side.

And so, because our similiarities in this world should always triumph over our differences, I’ve mashed all my photos together in one post. (Also, I was feeling kind of lazy.)

  1. Most covered lattice, Castle Leslie Estate, Republic of Ireland.

    You lichen? GET IT? LICHEN? HA.

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  2. Caution: Horses sign, Castle Leslie Estate.

    I wanted to add little fangs to the silhouette and change it to say “Caution: VAMPIRE HORSES” but Rand mentioned some nonsense about defacing property or something, so I didn’t.

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Sculpture at Castle Leslie, near the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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If my recent posts have seemed more pithy than usual, it is because I am skirting around an issue that I’m not sure I have the blogging chops to tackle, and talking about banal things like cryptic showers and trendy restaurants is far easier.

Hell, writing about how I turned my bathroom into a vomitorium (in one easy step!) is easier than tackling this.

But I really can’t keep avoiding it, since I can’t fully tell you about our visit to Ireland without addressing its history.

That’s right: today’s post will be an incredibly long, dull, and somewhat inaccurate history lesson. I’ll be discussing the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and I might touch on the issue of The Troubles, if my brain isn’t too scrambled.

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We walked right by Made in Belfast, and didn’t even realize it.

“I know exactly where it is,” Rand said confidently, as we walked across a pavement slick with the rain that seemed to fall pretty much constantly across Northern Ireland.

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I realize that one of the most important parts of travel is embracing the unknown. We travel to strange lands and discover what is different and foreign to us, and our minds and hearts are opened.

I understand this, I really and truly do. And yet, there is something incredibly wonderful about finding the familiar in far-off lands. We encountered it during our Ireland trip, and it felt like we were somehow cheating – yes, we were traveling, but we were surrounded by friends.

Or maybe WE surrounded them.

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We went to a wedding in a part of the world we’d never been to before, and sat at a table full of people we’ve known for years.

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