I am on week two of my adventure in Northern Ireland! There has been lots learned! This week we had learned about other conflicts such as in Mozambique and Colombia. We also learned about transitional justice and how victims of these unfathomable events can find some sort of “peace” in their lives. The biggest eye-opening experience besides the murals and peace walls of Belfast was in visiting the town of Derry, also known to some as Londonderry. The history of this little town dates back to the 17th century as a town divided by a wall around it, keeping Catholics on one side and Protestants on the other (AKA “the walled city”). We had visited the old St. Columbs Cathedral, went to multiple museums, walked along the peace bridge over the River Foyle, and had a nice lunch in town. But what made this particular trip stand out was the event of Bloody Sunday. Fast forward to January 30th, 1972 and in the town of Derry Bloody Sunday occurred. This was a massacre on the civil rights marchers, who were unarmed civilians, through the town of Derry. The killings were acted out by the British army. What made this trip much more personal was the fact that we spoke to locals in the towns at many of the museums we attended and got their perspective on the experience they have had with Bloody Sunday. Many remember where they were or what they were doing when it happened; many had family members and friends hurt or killed in the horrific incident. Even today there is a Bloody Sunday campaign to bring justice to those who have suffered the loss of loved ones to persecute those soldiers who got away with the murders. It was a moment I will not forget on my trip to Derry as we toured the town seeing the exact spots where intolerance and hate was accepted. Today in Derry, many still have allegiances to their own sides but the town also promotes murals and flags depicting other international issues. Most prominently seen was the political tensions of the Arab-Isreali Conflict, where the most famous FREE DERRY sign is currently painted as the Palestine flag. All in all this was a wonderful trip, I can’t wait to see what is in store for this upcoming week!
Fun Fact: U2’s Song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is in reference to the tragedy of Bloody Sunday in Derry.