Trip into N.Ireland was interesting. An eye opener even tho it was much as I expected it. I guess it was much more real, especially the smouldering remains of the big bonfire from the night before. It would have been horrible growing up as oppressed as the Irish were in this neck of the woods. The history goes back thru centuries. The British had tried to gain power and probably under estimated the rebellious nature or the strength of the Irish who fought hard and long. The British colonised Ireland with what they called plantation. So exactly as it sounds, a deliberate means of planting their own and Scottish royalist subjects into Ireland to increase their presence and fight power. If you were given a plot of land that may have been confiscated, you agreed to pay taxes to and fight for England. Irish were then tenants which built resentment. In the 1690 battle of the Boyne they had a wall built that kept central Derry intact within the wall. It was perfect as it had rivers running on 3 sides and a bog on the fourth side making it easier to protect.
1920 sometime Ireland became a republic after much civil warring throughout but 6 counties in the north were strongly supported by, and loyal to the British and wanted to remain under British rule. The n. Ireland unrest from then on relates mostly to the Irish who have been in n. Ireland and treated very badly.
The Irish in this part, who were mostly Catholics, didn’t have equal opportunity. It was hard to get jobs, housing etc and were discriminated against in almost every way. The housing we looked at on the bog-side, (which tells you a lot about the place) has been cleaned up but apparently the worst kind of slum housing you could imagine. This was the heart of the IRA who were basically a group of terrorists who were trying to get N.Ireland returned to Ireland. IRA-Irish Republican Army. The fighting was out on the street, part of everyday life and the police were working in a war like way rather than a peaceful way. Roadblocks, searches and questioning preventing you from getting to work or just live which caused a lot of resentment. Many innocents going about their daily life could be caught in crossfire. Every family affected and if you lost a family member in this way, of course you would be sympathetic and supportive to the cause and so it carried thru generations.
Nana and Mum hated the English from stories that carried thru from their grandparents about the way they were treated and although mum accepted in the end there were good and bad English the general feeling was they were a pack of bastards for how they treated the Irish. Everyone we have spoken to has been VERY careful to be unbiased in their presentations of things to us. No one wants to incite violence and we’ve been told it can flare up in the blink of an eye. A drunken comment or inference in the wrong place and it’s all on. Even up until midnight on the day of the July 12th celebration parade there was tension. Paddy wagons on the streets etc.
July 13th was another parade which celebrated the battle of the boyne which was when the catholic king was overthrown by king William who was supported by the English at the walls of this walled city-Derry. He was William of orange and this is where the orange comes from in the Irish flag and the term Orangemen.
N. Ireland has what they call a marching season in the summer. To give you an idea of how many parades there are, there were 4000 applications to council for parades for the 2013 season. They can have up to 750 in one day across n. Ireland. Of course many will be small and like the 12th July ones we saw they could be say 200 people with lots of small ones feeding into a larger one. They have flash points where police presence will be massive. Where the parade will pass a strong Catholic area say.
They say that good will on both sides to end the violence has gone a long way in recent years and this years has been a bit of a benchmark but they are ready for anything, anytime. You can see how children who are bought up with that kind of mentality keep it going. If your sister is shot and your Fathers been fighting for years against the oppression it’s a big jump to forgive or move on. Terrible way to live.
I’m glad we were able to meet people living here and yes timely! If I got anything very wrong in my summing up – apologies…