A dispatch from Belfast to a divided America


Share post:

A few weeks ago, some 4,600 miles from Austin, I walked through a divided city where the government locks the neighborhood gates at night. Imposing barriers called “peace walls” are topped with metal spikes.

My daughter and I had the opportunity last month to visit Ireland, Scotland and England, and we did all the touristy things. Castles and cathedrals. Big Ben and Stonehenge. But the excursion I keep thinking about was our stop in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland that still bears the structural scars from the Troubles — the decidedly understated term for three decades of bombings and shootings that killed 3,600 people.

The streets of Belfast are largely peaceful now, and have been since the late 1990s, when Irish and British factions reached a peace agreement. Now the city boasts a museum on the Titanic (built in Belfast), plus countless cafés and chocolatiers within walking distance of an ornate, turn-of-the-century City Hall topped with green copper domes.

Head toward the working-class neighborhoods, though, and Belfast still has “peace walls” dividing communities by religion and political allegiance. Catholics supporting Irish unification on one side. Protestants loyal to Britain on the other. Pass through the steel gates from one section to the next, and murals celebrating Irish culture give way to rows of houses flying the British flag. It’s that dramatic.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Related articles

The ‘Recent Cy Young winners’ quiz

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the best team in baseball and look poised to make another...

Ed School Professor Testifies on Learning Loss in Latin America | News

Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Fernando M. Reimers told a Congressional subcommittee last week that Covid-19...

Penn State Berks holds 10th annual Latino Forum for high school students

WYOMISSING, Pa. — As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Penn State Berks will hold its 10th annual...
English English Somali Somali