Sunday, July 12
Dr. Campbell and Mrs. Campbell picked us up at 10:30 a.m. and we traveled along the Causeway Coastal Route to find castles to explore.
The first castle that we went to was Carrickfergus Castle in County Antrim along the coast. The castle was besieged by the Scots, Irish, English and French and the castle played an important role in militia activity in 1928. It is one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland to date.
The castle had a quaint visitor’s center, with a short video and helpful tidbits of information that were kid-friendly, which made it a popular family-friendly site to visit.
After we toured the castle and looked around its many nooks & crannies, we proceeded to drive along the coast to stop at one of the best places for ice cream: The Rinkha. I had 2 different scoops: honeycomb and walnut & coffee. A delicious combo (Dr. Campbell was right – it is crazy tasty!).
We stopped in the town of Larne along our drive and the Campbell’s showed us their cottage. The cottage has been in Dr. Campbell’s family for at least 100 years and was built in 1760 (so, older than America…). It is going through a total renovation and is already shaping up! Dr. & Mrs. Campbell spend every weekend working on the majority of the house projects, which is quite impressive! The structure and property is quite beautiful and it will be awesome when it is finished!
We continued along the coast and stopped in another small town to grab lunch. We had delicious fish & chips and sat outside (although a wee bit nippy!). We then started our way back to Belfast for the rest of the day.
We went to see the Peace Walls in Northern Ireland. Since 1971, the Nationalists and Loyalists throughout NI have been divided by these walls in order to protect neighborhoods from random acts of violence and to maintain peace and protection for Protestants and Catholics. There are 17 walls that have been put up in various neighborhoods, but Belfast’s are the most visited.
The colors of the walls denote which side you are on, determining party, faith & neighborhood. The red, white & blue stones are Loyalist murals and the green, white and gold stones are Nationalist murals.
The Peace Walls have stood for 45 years, 17 years longer than the Berlin Wall. The walls are one of Belfast’s top attractions. However, there is debate as to whether this is appropriate with such recent memories of the violence from ‘The Troubles’.
An article published by Huffington Post UK in June 2014 highlighted the history and personal accounts of the Peace Walls in Northern Ireland. I found that the article offered a high-level report on some of the aspects and stats based on the Peace Walls as it relates to The Troubles in Ireland and the fears and atrocities that are still palpable in NI society today.*
“The decades of bloodshed, officially and euphemistically dubbed “The Troubles” but sometimes simply just “The War”, is over. The walls may look like monuments to the past to be graffitied and photographed, but for the people living in their shadows, sectarian strife between Protestant Unionists, who historically gravitated towards remaining part of the UK, and Catholic Nationalists, who gravitated towards joining the Irish Republic, is not a thing of the past. Peace and reconciliation are not the same thing. A 2012 study showed almost 70% living in “interface areas” near the walls feared for their safety without them.”
*There are many articles and reports that have been published to offer insights from Loyalist and Nationalist parties’ perspectives. I recommend continued research in order to find out more on the history of ‘The Troubles’; don’t rely on one article for all of your information!
C.S. Lewis grew up in Belfast, Ireland. We drove by the house he grew up in and we went to St. Mark’s Church**, where Lewis’ uncle was pastor. The door on the rector’s home had a lion on the door knob, which is the same door knob that inspired the lion in the Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.
Dr. Campbell pointed out the home that C.S. Lewis grew up in and contained the wardrobe that he would often play in as a boy, which eventually inspired its role in his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.