“Wait, hold on. You’re telling me that its the year 2013, and as we stand here under typical Irish weather, drenched from head to toe just trying to stay warm, that I am staring at a 25 foot peace wall that still, to this day, separates protestants and catholics here in Belfast?”
“Yes. That is exactly what you are seeing,” I heard our taxi driver blurt this out, in that thick, heavy Irish accent, however most of my attention was averted to the wall: an imposing structure of concrete and steel fencing, reaching 30 feet in some areas.
I mean, I heard rumblings and had a small notion of an idea that there was still civil unrest in Belfast, yet heading to Ireland for two weeks for my brothers wedding at the end of June, nothing could have painted us a clearer picture than the world famous Black Taxi tour.
I read a quote online taken from an anonymous Belfast resident, that I thought gave an eerily simple idea as to how uneasy the balance still was between these two, well, religions:
“In most other countries they have all sorts of sports; soccer, cricket, whatever. In Belfast we have something called recreational rioting.”
The taxi ride took us throughout the city, stopping at a number of different sites, from massive murals painted on the protestant side, glorifying their ‘heroes’, to a church on the catholic side rich in history, to other murals painted throughout the city, as well as memorials dedicated to catholics who have lost their lives from this civil war over the years, from children as young as 2 or 3.
As miserable and uncomfortable as I was (I really didnt want to continue to get in and out of the taxi, I was completely soaked), to be able to stand there, in this year 2013, and have the privileged to stare and realize that this ‘history’ continues to have events and people added to it to this day. And, unfortunately, other than the hope that most of these walls will be taken down within the next 10 years, it looks as though only time will tell.
This was one of the more informative and eye-opening tours I was a part of. That peace wall is definitely, definitely something that I wont forget.
At the end, our driver pulled out a few markers while we stood motionless in front of the wall, giving us the option to sign. I decided to put down one of my favorite quotes from the movie Robin Hood. I though it related to the ongoing battle in Belfast: “Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.”