It's interesting how we had the same emotional experience in British controlled Ireland. Before going to Derry and Belfast, I loved the Brits. Anything having to do with them was superior. I even conned myself into thinking they'd learned lessons from trying to be a colonial power. After my trip, it took awhile for me to even watch their football...
It's a strange place that almost exists outside of reality. Nobody may be blowing things up (when I was there they had just re-introduced public trash cans) but its far from a harmonious place. To take a stand for a moment, I noticed the unionists were much more aggressive on how they felt about their stand on things. There was nothing left to the imagination and were quick to find out where you stood (and were quick to point out where you were "wrong"). If anything, I almost got the feeling they wanted the fight to continue. The Catholics were much more tight-lipped and reserved. It took being an ass for the guys in a bar to realize I was harmless and begin to sorta talk to me. Once they did, I felt honored and was extremely grateful.
Yet barring that, it was my favorite part of Ireland. Once I sorta learned the way of the land, I found it to be the most beautiful part of my trip. Strange as it sounds, I met some truly wonderful people up there. Plus, since there are not a lot of tourists running around, I was treated pretty well. The coast was splendid and I couldn't say enough nice things about the people who picked me up hitchhiking and went out of their way to get me where I was going...
It's ironic that Northern Ireland beat England for only the fifth time ever in the World Cup qualifiers last night, isn't it?
But yeah, as I was saying to nimoloth
, it wasn't so much what was happening between the people of the city, or between them and us, but what wasn't. They don't do much wandering around on their own streets. It's a bit of a mystery to me how the graffiti that covers every available surface gets there in the first place. I didn't interact much with the locals. Actually, that's not true, it's that most of the locals we talked to were Catholic, because we didn't spend any time in the Protestant neighborhoods. We talked to the Bogside artists, who are determined to achieve neutrality, the tour guide, who was definitely Republican, and the group of kids who interviewed the artists, who were sort of apolitical - although they did make mention of "knowing their rights." (Our tour guide mentioned that a lot of people make it a point to know their rights. The memory of the time when peaceful demonstrations and civil rights rallies is apparently still rather fresh for them.) So while I think we experienced a representative cross-section of the Catholic population, I definitely saw only half of the story.
My favorite part of Ireland was the Inis Eoghain peninsula. But I didn't get to see the Giant's Causeway or any part of N. Ireland other than Derry, so perhaps my perspective will change on the next trip. Although that's likely to be focused on Belfast.
Oh, that was a painful game to listen to online. Although all isn't lost, it certainly makes me wonder if they'll be much of a threat if they make it to play-outs with the other second place teams. But on the upside, the US is going to Germany...
I think you'd have a better time in Belfast than Derry. I was in Derry for a few hours and, although I found it nice, it was definitely kinda depressing. Belfast is much more cosmopolitan with more to see. Although its a little tense around the peace wall, its big enough where troubles can be across the street. Plus so many of the attractions are cheap, along with cheap food (chicken curry in a potato is still a fav of mine) and hostels that I got the most from it...
I watched the game (at the same time as the Ireland/France game - that was heartbreaking) in an Irish pub, so, er, there was a lot of cheering when N. Ireland won. Although I always like to see the underdog pull through, I'm also worried about England's chances.
.. so neither Eamon nor Kegan have ever heard of Sean Keenan, and I'm a bit confused about how he died. But I think it may have been of old-age related causes. It not being an uncommon name, all I can find on him is this: http://www.irelandsown.net/keenan.htm
. I did find another bit about a hunger striker who died, but it only mentioned that he was a friend of Sean Keenan's father or something like that. He seems to be a pretty important political figure. I'm sort of weirded out that there's not more available about him and that people that have been studying the history from afar for so long have heard nothing of him.
Oh, interesting. For some reason I wrote down that evening that he'd died while on a hunger strike. Perhaps I was mixing up the story of his internment and that of Raymond McCartney's, since we talked to the Bogside artists about their hunger strike mural.
Also, from your link above, here's how his son died: "His son Colm was shot dead by British troops while he was engaged in an armed IRA patrol in Free Derry along with Vol Eugene McGillan."
It's a little peculiar, like you say, that there doesn't seem to be much information about him. It's as if he's been kept a bit of a secret.
It's possible that that's what Ruairí said about him. I was so busy trying to recognize words in the Irish he read off that I didn't pay enough attention to the content of it or the background he gave.
Not entirely related: My gallery is party back up, as [Bad username: euromuffin'> mentions, and most importantly, there is a <a href=]gallery of all my photos from the last trip</a>. Not too organized except by location, but all there. I did shrink them all down to 1024x768 to preserve space, but that should be good enough for 4x6 prints.
Yeah, he did kinda zing through the reading, didn't he. Honestly, though, I think I wrote that down from what I remembered from the English side of the monument.
I'm impressed you got the gallery back up. Also, very amused at the first comment on the angry pic of Kegan & me (assuming it's serious).
Oh, also, if you have anything up on euromuffin
that's friends-locked, I can't read it. If you're doing that on purpose, that's cool; I'm just letting you know that I added it before I left.
What, I didn't add you?
Sheesh. I'll fix that soon.
And no, there's nothing "private" I had to say about the last trip. :)
Oh, heh, there was a friends-only entry from kilkenny. Forgot about that. Now you can see it.
My Dad's from a farm near Strabane, not that far from Londonderry (in the Northern Irish side), so we used to go there all the time. And in all the years I went to Ireland, I never saw any trouble or felt any discord inthe people, probably because we were in the countryside. I only went to Londonderry once, but I remember liking it a lot and thinking it was nothing like I'd heard about in the news back home (Scotland, just south of Glasgow).
But I really can't abide sectarianism. We have enough Orange Walks in Glasgow to sicken anyone. And they bring out the worst of the scum of Glasgow society to trail along the edges and cause trouble, bedecked in union jacks and red hands of Ulster. In contrast, there is very little visible stuff of that nature from the Catholic side of the community, and there are a lot of them.
So I guess what I'm saying is that in my experience, Northen Ireland was very peacefula nd tranquil, and I associate any troubles with the Orange Walks here in west central Scotland, although obviously I know there is similar trouble in NI cities too.
I guess I should clarify that I didn't feel personally threatened in any way - Northern Ireland apparently has one of the lowest rates of tourist-related crime in the world. I think the sense of discord came not from any overt gestures by the people, but from the endless graffiti and the bareness of the streets. There was seriously no one around after about 4:30 in the afternoon, and that was on a nice sunny day in the summer. Most businesses open late and close early. Presumably they keep to that schedule so that in the winter, people can go to work when it's light and return home before it gets dark. So it was more like the absence of overt hostility between people, but the reminders of it in their environment and their habits that creeped me out.
The Glasgow Orange Walks sound awful, from what I'm reading after Google/Wiki searches. I didn't know that kind of sectarian tension existed there; pardon my ignorance and thank you for the incentive to correct it.
I've seen Orange events in Belfast and I have to say it wasn't about celebrating their religious views so much as flaunting their power to everyone else...
They really just do it to stir up trouble and be provocative arogant d**cks.