Ireland is so much more than greedy leprechauns and frothy Guinness. The island is full of wonders and we managed to squeeze in a concert with Explosions In The Sky in Dublin, soak up Titanic memorabilia in Belfast and explore Giant’s Causeway. But there is still another thing that is completely dominating my thoughts.
At the heart of it all, Ireland is sadly still a land in conflict. Passing the border to northern Ireland is a breeze compared to the ordeals only ten years ago, and the only indication along the road is a sign declaring that the speed limit unit just changed to miles per hour. But passing through the infamous Sandy Row in Belfast is an emotional experience, as well as walking past Europa Hotel at Great Victoria Street, also known as “the most bombed hotel in the world”.
We had the privilege to meet some colorful characters around Ireland. At the Brazen Head, oldest pub in Dublin from 1198, we found a bitter man at the bar who bought us several pints and told us how much he hated everything. Especially the French, as he still was angry at Napoleon. But he didn’t hesitate to spit on Englishmen, Germans, Swedes, Americans, Italians, Swiss and pretty much everything on two legs except for velociraptors.
For contrast we later had a pint of Guinness with another Dubliner, the day after the Queen visited Dublin as the first British monarch since 1912. The whole of Dublin was shut down, traffic closed and people mostly kept off the streets by an army of policemen. The old lady with a thousand hats even had the guts to visit the Garden of Remembrance site, but the Dubliner just shrugged and called it an unique event in history which probably was for the greater good.
The people are as divided as the island itself. How long will this conflict go on?