After Scotland it was on to Ireland and our introduction to the “troubles” as they were called in both countries. Our first stop was Northern Island and the port city of Belfast.
Northern Ireland with its capital Belfast is part of the United Kingdom and uses pounds as its currency, the Queen as its monarch and flies the Union Jack. The Republic of Ireland on the other hand with its capital Dublin, is its own republic, uses the European euro as its currency and has its own distinctive flag. The ”troubles” between Northern Ireland and the Republic have gone on for years and have at their root British rule and the desire on the part of some of the population to be a separate nation. Part of that struggle was and continues to be the feeling of domination by the British and the persecution of Roman Catholics.
What we found and saw for ourselves was the absolute beauty of Northern Island with its green hills, rugged coastline and soaring mountains. It was here that the wealthy Brits were given land and built lavish castles and estates that pushed the Irish inhabitants out and forced them to pay high taxes to their British landlords. LInen was and continues to be a major export as is Irish whisky. Northern Island is also home to the UNESCO world heritage site called the Giant’s Causeway and just beside it is the 2019 home of the British Open at Portrush Golf Club. The course is in beautiful shape with the greens perfectly manicured yet looking like the adjacent green fields of the sheep and cattle farms!
By contrast, the Republic of Ireland is a far richer country. Dublin is home to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and it was a surprise to us to learn that it is a Protestant Church and not Catholic. Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels was a Dean at St. Patricks and is buried there.
Not far from St. Patricks is the world famous Trinity College, and just outside the gates to this campus is a statue of Oscar Wilde, the playwright who lived and worked in the same neighbourhood.
LIke many of our other European countries, one day was not nearly enough to even scratch the surface of our interest. Why two countries? I am still not sure.
Pictures to follow!