Leaving Cert History and LCRE Trip to Belfast
By Katie Kearns
The 11th of October 2016: This date marked the end of my preconceived view of Belfast as a violent city. Fifth and sixth year History classes as well as sixth year LCRE, along with Ms Egan, Ms Butler and Mr Ait Aimer, took a trip to Belfast and it really opened our eyes to how much the city has changed. Gone is the chaotic city of twenty years ago. Belfast has transformed into a modern city with many attractions, shopping districts and a thriving nightlife.
We arrived in Belfast around 10.30am, full of excitement. What were we about to witness? Where were we going to go? We were greeted by a smiling tour guide and a giant open-top red bus. We were chauffeured around the city of Belfast and saw some very interesting sights.
Firstly, there was Stormont, the Parliament of Northern Ireland. I can honestly say that it is a beautiful building. Pictures on the news or in our textbooks do not do it justice. The amount of detail put into building Stormont amazed us all. Six pillars stand proudly at the front of the building, representing the six counties of Northern Ireland. It was truly a breathtaking view. After we had our picture taken we continued on in the bus seeing sights such as the Crumlin Road Jail, Gardens of Remembrance and artistic murals from both the Nationalist and Unionist perspective.
The part of the tour that captured everyone’s interest and amazement the most was the 18 foot peace wall that separates the Shankill Road (Unionist area) from the Falls Road (Nationalist area). There are many peace walls in Belfast but due to the sheer size of this one, I couldn’t help but compare this peace wall to the Berlin Wall. Standing beside it is a bit intimidating and overwhelming because of all the history and conflict associated with it. The wall is full of messages written by locals and tourists. We had an opportunity to write our own message. I wrote about my wish for peace in the world. I hope it comes true!!
Overall, this was an unforgettable and extremely informative trip. All students said they were glad they got the opportunity to see what Belfast is really like. As our tour guide said “Belfast is not a divided city any longer, but there are divisions in places”. Will Belfast see its “Berlin Wall” fall? Only time will tell.