Return from Easter Break
Spain was absolutely incredible. The proximity of the countries in Europe allows you to arrive in a place that seems like a completely different world in just a couple of short hours. Spain was so different from Ireland, but with an equally rich and deep culture that I’d have to spend a year there to really delve into.
Returning to Belfast was a little surreal, but it is equally surreal that not even two weeks ago I was in Spain. I’ve been back in Belfast for over a week now and I feel like I’ve taken advantage of the city in a way that I haven’t since I first got here. It was absolutely incredible to spend three weeks in Spain but it did make me appreciate Belfast more. I guess remembering to fully take advantage of the opportunities around me while traveling with my mom caused me to do the same in a place that wasn’t as new to me anymore when I returned to Belfast. This past week and a half I have gone to new pubs, I’ve seen walked through parts of the city I hadn’t even seen before and I traveled to Derry/Londonderry, which is a smaller city about a two hour bus ride from Belfast. Derry/Londonderry, like Belfast, has a troubled past. On January 30, 1972 a civil rights peaceful protest turned horrifically violent when fourteen protestors were shot and killed by soldiers of the British Army. Bloody Sunday, or the Bogside Massacre, as this event is known, is commemorated by political murals, much like those that can be found in areas of Belfast, in the residential area the Bogside, where Bloody Sunday occurred. Also located in the Bogside is the Free Derry Museum that commemorates Bloody Sunday as well as the civil rights movement in N.Ireland.
As my friend Caitlin and I entered the museum we were greeted by a man named John Kelly, who was there on Bloody Sunday and whose own brother was tragically killed that day. I still find it shocking when I meet someone in person who has experienced the tragedies that I have studied about in school. Everyone in N. Ireland has a story and it is not as unusual to meet an ex-political prisoner or someone who lived through famous news stories that were nothing more than images on a TV screen or newspaper to most of us. What is particularly striking is not the shock of the horrible tragedies that these people have lived through but rather their resilience to move forward and sustain a peaceful N.Ireland.