Becca Allen travels to Belfast to have a look at the powerful, thought provoking and strikingly colourful reminders of The Troubles.
I am currently writing this week’s blog post sat on a bus travelling through the countryside of northern Ireland. This week I have ventured over the pond for a dear friend’s wedding. Admittedly I was not looking forward to the four flights, four hours worth of coach transfers, taxis and a ferry to get to the wedding location but after seeing pictures of the wee “Boa Island” off of northern Ireland and landing in sunshine I am now excited to party with the Irish, shed tears over the vows and stuff my face full of food.
Before heading to the wedding on Friday me and a pal spent Thursday in Belfast getting to know a bit about the city and sharing some banter with the locals. What struck us was a real sense of how upbeat and positive the people were. Just by simply ‘looking lost’ on a number of occasions, an obliging and smiley local was instantly at our side, pointing us in the direction of the nearest watering hole, bus station or Wagamama (yes we really wanted to get to grips with the local cuisine).
Because of the cheery nature of these lovely people, it was hard to so this as the grim, war-stricken city that had filled our television screens through much of the 70s and 80s. We wanted to remind ourselves that this city has a horrific history that spans many decades. So we took a short bus trip out into West Belfast, to the epicentre of The Troubles to see some of the famous murals that embellish many of the walls separating the Protestant and Catholic quarters. The vast and expressive imagery that scatter the streets of this conflict ridden area, tell both sides of the story; Republican and Nationalist. There are a few famous faces thrown in there too, a popular image being that of Republican hunger striker Bobby Sands.
We were really struck by the colours, bold typography and thought provoking quotations. The only downside to viewing the murals was their positioning off a narrow path on the main road. We were dodging traffic with our suitcases just to get a decent photo with the trusty iphone but we managed to capture enough of the impact they have on the red brick surroundings.