Another week goes by… as week 3 will be coming to an end. Our lectures this week differed on topics such as researching the everyday lives of asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland, shared education, engaging youth from divided societies, and our field trip to the breathtaking Antrim Coast of Giant’s Causeway. Although, this week was a peculiar one as far as it being Northern Ireland’s national holiday – The Twelfth of July. The Twelfth is a celebration to the Ulster Protestant Loyalists in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The Battle of the Boyne was when King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II. The celebration of this anniversary (and also of the Glorious Revolution) is a huge with pride being shown in many different ways. It begins weeks ahead of time with local groups building up pallets which, in the end result, become a large stacking for bonfires. These bonfires are set on fire the night of the eleventh on the eve of the anniversary. The bonfires are massive in size and usually have flags attached to them with terrorist organizations and even the flag of Ireland. The next morning are the parades where the ‘Orange Order’ men parade along the streets with their marching bands, this is to show pride for their victory many, many years ago. Many believe these celebrations to be very sectarian; in other words anti-irish/catholic, which can be rightly so given the symbols they are choosing to burn etc. It certainly was a learning experience being in the country during this national holiday (also due to the fact that both the public and private sectors are closed the 11th and 12th of July). My question is… will there ever be a time where this tradition dies out? Or will there ever be new meaning to the youth growing up celebrating the Twelfth in years to come? Time will only tell. Until next time, everyone!
Interesting Fact: The Irish Catholic’s leave town during this time to avoid the Ulster celebrations.