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Black Taxi Tour – Belfast, North Ireland

The last part of our Belfast Trip was a Black Taxi Tour around the city.  This wasn’t just a sightseeing tour, on it we learned about the political history of Ireland, one which I never knew was so violent.  The most interesting part was that although a type of peace has still been reached, the fights were not long ago, and there is still a lot of tension.

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Much of Belfast is divided into Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, a division that is more about Loyalists (those who want to be part of the UK) versus nationalists (those who want to be a free nation like the rest of Ireland) rather than religion. There is a giant peace wall (taller than the Berlin Wall was) dividing the two sections, and gates close every night between the neighborhoods.  The residents of the neighborhoods don’t see it as themselves being trapped, but rather a safety precaution to keep the other side out.

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One set of the gates that close every night

The Peace Wall that divides the neighborhoods has been signed by the likes of Rhianna, Lady Gaga, and President Clinton, and we were allowed to add our own names to it.

The atmosphere was very tense, especially because we were surrounded by murals celebrating those who died.  It used to be a very violent time, where members of each faction were sometimes murdered while doing something as simple as changing a tire on their car.  Even now, there are still metal cages on the outside of the houses facing the peace wall so that stones and bottles thrown over won’t break windows or damage property.  I highly recommend reading up on it, I don’t think I could possibly give an unbiased opinion on both sides of the story, and the history is both bloody and fascinating.

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