Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Political Side of Belfast ---

Every cab we hopped on to asked us “Do you want a city tour?” 

What they are really asking is….”Do you want me to show you the political murals and give you a run down of our rough history over the past 300 years?”

Politics is not my favorite thing.  Everyone has their side – every side is valid.  I’m more of the peace-loving “can’t we all give a little and make it right for everyone” kind, which I know is unrealistic in most cases, but let’s face it….those of us with different beliefs seem to get along famously when we quilt together – therfore – the whole world needs to take up QUILTING!

However, it would not be a visit to Belfast without including some of the city stuff.

Our driver, Noel, stopped in Belfast where he had arranged a Belfast guide to give us HIS side of the story, and I’m so glad he did.  I have already forgotten the name of our guide…we can call him James---and he was so knowledgeable about each and everything.  The hard part?  I was on an aisle seat, it was raining outside and difficult to get pictures of things we were driving past.

Belfast_Ireland2013 064
((Yes, this is razor wire on top!))

These photos are mine….see the raindrops?  But the narration below is thanks to Wikipedia:

Almost all Northern Ireland murals promote either republican or loyalist political beliefs, often glorifying paramilitary groups such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, Ulster Freedom Fighters, and the Ulster Volunteer Force, while others commemorate people who have lost their lives inparamilitary or military attacks.[2]

Belfast_Ireland2013 068
The most famous of the murals in Northern Ireland may well be Free Derry Corner, where the slogan "You Are Now Entering Free Derry" was painted in 1969, shortly after the Battle of the Bogside.
Belfast_Ireland2013 072
However, some do not consider Free Derry Corner to be a true mural, as it consists only of words and not images. Free Derry Corner has been used as a model for other murals in Northern Ireland, including the "You Are Now Entering Loyalist Sandy Row" mural in Belfast, which was a response to the republican message of Free Derry Corner, and the "You Are Now Entering Derry Journal Country" mural, which is an advertisement for a Derry publication.
Belfast_Ireland2013 069
Not all murals in Northern Ireland are directly political or sectarian in nature, with some commemorating events such as the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849), and other moments in Irish history.
Belfast_Ireland2013 071
Many portray events from Irish mythology, though images from Irish myths are often incorporated into political murals. A few murals avoid the subject of Ireland altogether, instead focusing on such neutral subjects as litter prevention and the C. S. Lewis novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Belfast_Ireland2013 070
Murals representing peace and tolerance are becoming increasingly popular with school groups who have children either design or actually paint murals in areas around their schools.
Belfast_Ireland2013 073
Additionally, with many paramilitaries now involved in community work there has been a move to decommission many of the hard-edged murals across Northern Ireland.[3]
Belfast_Ireland2013 077
This change was further highlighted in 2007, when the Bogside Artists were invited to Washington, D.C. for the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. The three artists were invited to recreate murals in the Washington Mall.[4]

Belfast_Ireland2013 074
You can see that the storm was blowing over….there was blue sky…and we were STILL getting rain!
Belfast_Ireland2013 078

Murals are everywhere – even sides of homes and shops --
Belfast_Ireland2013 080
My first glimpse at the “Wall of Peace”
Wiki says:
The peace lines or peace walls are a series of barriers in Northern Ireland that separate Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods. They have been built at urban interface areas in Belfast, Derry, Portadown and elsewhere.
The stated purpose of the Peace lines is to minimise inter-communal violence between Catholics (most of whom are Irish nationalists who self-identify as Irish) and Protestants (most of whom are unionists who self-identify as British).
Belfast_Ireland2013 081
The Peace lines range in length from a few hundred yards to over three miles (5 km). They may be made of iron, brick, and/or steel and are up to 25 feet (7.6 m) high. Some have gates in them (sometimes staffed by police) that allow passage during daylight but are closed at night.
The first Peace lines were built in 1969, following the outbreak of the 1969 Northern Ireland riots and "The Troubles". They were built as temporary structures meant to last only six months, but due to their effective nature they have become wider, longer and more permanent. Originally few in number, they have multiplied over the years, from 18 in the early 1990s to 48 today; in total they stretch over 21 miles (34 km), with most located in Belfast.
Belfast_Ireland2013 082
Tall wall of peace in the background, dividing Catholic areas from Protestant.
In recent years they have even become locations for tourism. Black taxis now take groups of tourists around Belfast's Peace Lines, trouble spots and famous murals.
The most prominent Peace lines in the past few years separate: the nationalist Falls Road and unionist Shankill Road areas of West Belfast; the Catholic Short Strand from the Protestant Cluan Place areas of East Belfast; and the Protestant Fountain estate and Catholic Bishop Street area of Derry.
Belfast_Ireland2013 085
Shouldn’t church spires point to peace?
In 2008 a public discussion began about how and when the Peace lines could be removed.[1] While on September 1, 2011 Belfast City Council agreed to develop a strategy regarding the removal of peace walls,[2][3] a study was released in 2012 indicating that 69% of residents believe that the peace walls are still necessary because of potential violence.[4]
At the end of 2011, several local community initiatives resulted in the opening of a number of interface structures for a trial period.[5] In January 2012, the International Fund for Ireland launched a Peace Walls funding programme to support local communities who want to work towards beginning to remove the peace walls. [6]

That’s it for my ONE political post.  Little by little it is getting better.  As future generations come, the need for peace walls may be completely unnecessary.
If you want to see more of the murals, my traveling-teacher-friend Pam Holland is a real pro-photographer..with a super “Big Girl” camera and all – and she went back the next day when the weather was fine and took fabulous photos.  You can visit them at her blog HERE

I really enjoyed spending the time with Pam, who is from Australia, and keeps as crazy a traveling schedule as I do!  In fact, in October of 2014 we will be teaching together on a cruise with Sew Many Places out of Galveston Texas…the week after Quilt Festival ---Western Carribean, including BELIZE – and we will be joined by none other than Kim Diehl and Mickey Depre! 

So if you want to travel with me….that gives you about a year and a half to save your pennies!  It’s going to be FABULOUS!
Today? CLEANING FRENZY!  There is NO MERCY to be shown by me, or my dust rag!

Click Here to like our Quiltville Friends Page on Facebook for more fun!


Kim said...

How very interesting, you got a very full picture of the country didn't you? Lovely place I wish them everlasting peace.

Happy Sewing

Quilter Kathy said...

Enjoyed the tour and the history. Your photos are even more meaningful if you think of the rain as tears caused by all that historical conflict.

Mickey Depre said...

I am so looking forward to our cruise. Yippee!