I just got back yesterday from a trip to Ireland. My head is still spinning from the jet lag, so if this post doesn't make sense forgive me. It was 60 degrees and raining the whole time... and TOTALLY awesome. The countryside was amazing, the food was fabulous. But what has stayed with me most is the day trip we took to Belfast. Did you know there is a twenty foot high wall that cuts right through the city? It divides the Protestants from the Catholics and it closes every night at 7 pm. Everything in the city is divided-- they go to separate schools, live in separate neighborhoods, and even take different transportation (years ago the Protestant side-- Belfast is still under English rule which supports the Protestants-- made a law that Catholics could no longer ride on public transportation. The Catholic community came together and bought a bunch of black taxi cabs so they could still get around.) They don't even agree about their nationality-- Protestants say they're English, Catholics say they're Irish. To the Catholics, the English are suppressors (in the 80's they had internment camps where prisoners could be held without cause and without a trial for up to 2 years and 4 months). To the Protestants, the Catholics are the terrorists (IRA).
I knew a little (very little honestly) about the violence in Ireland, but until I saw what was there I just didn't understand. It's amazing what a little change in perspective can do.