Here in Ireland, I am constantly surrounded by beauty in both the cities and the countryside. At the same time, the impact of the relatively recent wars and struggles are still incredibly visible. 2016 is an important year in Ireland because it is the 100th anniversary of the 1916 uprising against English rule. The uprising, although it was an initial failure, sparked a movement. In 1922, independence was granted for the Republic of Ireland which consisted of 26 counties. Because 2016 is an important anniversary, there are advertisements everywhere displaying 1916 museums, bus tours, and art exhibits. The celebrations show how meaningful Ireland’s history is to the people and the culture.
Being in Northern Ireland, the impact of its history is also extremely evident. Giant’s Causeway, a unique formation of hexagonal rocks, was formed by an ancient volcanic eruption. Still today, the rocks are intact and serve as a huge tourist attraction for the North. St. Patrick’s statue and grave are remembrances of his impact on Ireland’s religious landscape. Today, Ireland and many other places celebrate St. Patrick ’s Day, originally initiated to remember his significance in history. In Belfast, we stopped briefly at the Titanic Museum. The Titanic was built in Belfast and its cultural significance has greatly impacted the city, so much that there is an entire area called the Titanic Quarter. Also in Belfast, we took a tour which focused on the Troubles of Belfast. In the late 20th century, Belfast broke out into conflict which mostly stemmed from differences in political beliefs and ethnic differences. Barriers known as “peace walls” line the streets and separate neighborhoods that were predominately Catholic Nationalists and the Protestant Unionists. The walls were put up for protection but when violence continued, the walls grew taller and taller. Although the majority of violence has ended, the walls remain. Today, the walls are covered in murals which depict the history of the violence and plea for peace.
One mural, pictured below, says “Refugees Welcome” in multiple different languages. Just above it on the right, there is a sign which says “British Army Not Welcome in this Area.”
This was really interesting because it shows past issues which are still relevant right next to the current refugee crisis. This image also makes me think of the current shootings in the US and the attack in Nice. Our world is plagued with so much conflict. Every day, it seems there is a new tragedy headlining the news. Although the peace walls are a constant reminder of the troubles, artists have used them for peace to educate and remember the history of Ireland. The tragedies of today are heartbreaking. Hopefully, one day we will be able to remember these awful events in a way that pushes us to strive for peace.
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<p>Hi! My name is Kate Jones and I'm a Dramatic Arts and Performance Studies double major at UNC Chapel Hill. I am jazzed to start my study abroad program concentrating in acting this summer in Dublin, Ireland. This is my third time traveling to Ireland which should give you some insight into how much I love this country and it impact it has made on my life. I cannot wait to experience it again, but as a student this time around!</p>