Friday, May 29, 2009

From Belfast to the Walled City

Our group at Giant's Causeway.
Participating in an activity at Corrymeela.

Crossing the Carrick-a-Rede bridge.

View of the Irish Sea.

On Thursday we travelled from Belfast to Northern Ireland's second-largest city, with several stops along the way. First, we stopped at the Corrymeela retreat center on the Antrim coast. Corrymeela is a nonprofit that facilitates peace and reconcilation efforts between and within a variety of communities. We spent several hours learning about the organization's perspectives on the conflict and its conflict resolution efforts, and particpating in some of the activities that Corrymeela uses in its work. We ate lunch at Corrymeela's communal dining room and enjoyed the stunning coastal location.

Our next stop was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge which spans the narrow but deep divide between the mainland and a small, rocky island off the Antrim Coast. Those brave enough to cross the rope bridge were rewarded with spectacular scenery and beautiful views of Irish Sea stretching off to Scotland. We then visited Giant's Causeway, one of the world's most famous natural features and marvelled at its hexagon-shaped basalt columns marching off into the sea.

Along our drive we skirted the city of Coleraine, which provided an unfortunate example that reconciliation in Northern Ireland is not yet complete. On Sunday one man was killed and others injured in Coleraine following violence directed against a Catholic neighborhood by a loyalist mob following a British soccer match. An article describing the situation can be found at

Late in the afternoon we arrived in the city alternatively known as Derry and Londonderry. Because each of these names carries with it political and historical baggage, the welcome signs at its edge simply read "The Walled City." After settling into our hostel, we were treated to Irish stew made by four members of our group, and then headed to a local pub.

No comments:

Post a Comment