Finally, Belfast

Loyalist area
Loyalist area

I very rarely blog about topics not related to the outdoors. But I want to put down some observations before I forget.

When Beth and I decided to hike in the Republic of Ireland, I knew that I was going to visit Northern Ireland as well. Lenny, our son and I lived in Oxford in the early 1980s. These were the Thatcher years and the troubles of Northern Ireland  were in the news every day. If it wasn’t the miners strike, it was the troubles in Northern Ireland.

I took the train from Dublin to Belfast.

“Will I see a sign that says ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’?” I asked a woman sitting across from me.

“No.” She smiled.

Loyalist parade
Loyalist parade

But there was no need for a sign. As soon as the dual language (English and Irish) signs ended, I knew we had crossed the border.

I’m staying with an AirBnB host who’s very talkative. He took me on a walking tour downtown, which was very helpful. As soon as we came back, a police car was on the street, close to where I’m staying.

“Well,” the officer said, “there’s going to be a parade. And this is a bit of a contentious area.”

imagei didn’t waste time. I grabbed my camera and walked through the Protestant area, photographing murals, which depict the men who died during the “troubles”. Queen Elizabeth also featured in their murals.

Then I bumped into the band parade.

Wow! I was not prepared for such fervor from the Loyalists. There are more Union Jacks in the few blocks around here than I’ve seen in all of London. Every house is blazing with British flags.

Bands after bands of men and boys, with different uniform, marched. Some came as far away as Scotland. In the hundreds of males in the parade, I only saw five women.

Apparently the band season occurs in the summer. I was just lucky to be here at the right time. I walked on the sidewalk, sort of following the parade. The parade started and ended with the police, both in cars and on foot.

imageThe locals here are more difficult to understand than in Ireland. I think that they have more of a Scottish accent mixed with the Irish. But I smiled a lot, even if I didn’t appreciate all that was said.

Many of their people came to the U.S. down the Great Wagon Road and into Appalachia. The men I spoke to knew where North Carolina is.

i took a lot of pictures. Here’s one depicted the 1690 Battle of the Boyne. Look up this important date. Remembering that I’m still blogging on  mini IPad.




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