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"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Troubled Times.

Growing up in an Canadian Irish family, you pay attention to stories from older relatives and that which is on the news to do with the so called “troubles”. During the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, being the more recent extremely bloody times in Northern Ireland, it is hard to imagine growing up in such violence. The Shankhill / Falls Road area of Belfast has known more than its fair share of turmoil and is still a fortified neighborhood in the city of Belfast. To learn more about this history, dad and I decided to take what is called a Black Cab tour…this is offered by the people who grew up and live in the said neighborhood and who obviously are well informed personally and politically about the past as well as present day goings-ons. Dads mother grew up on the Falls Road side which has become the ‘Catholic’ side. It was another intense day with the ghosts of his past…Protestants and Catholics used to live side by side, but of course because of deep rooted beliefs on both sides too much violence has since separated the two. There is a wall running between the neighborhood which runs for miles and is 25 feet tall in most places. They were originally built as temporary structures but have since become permanent. There are gates in and out of the areas that are locked at 10p.m and reopen for the working day the next morning. I was amazed and frankly a bit shocked to realize how fortified this urban, working class area is and how strange it felt to see the effort put into keeping the ‘peace’. In both areas are huge murals painted on the walls in tribute to fallen comrades and heroes of the causes. I was able to get a few pictures before my damn battery went dead(with no backup nearby) and only ones from the first part of our tour which was the Protestant area of Shankhill Road.                  

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