Monday, July 13
On Monday morning, we started out our day by watching one of the parades in Bangor. Protestant fraternity members of the Orange Order marched the streets. The order’s name comes from William III, Prince of Orange, and support of his victory at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690.
Parades are an important part of Northern Irish culture; however, it is important to note that the majority of parades are held by Protestant, Unionist and Ulster Loyalist groups. The Marching Season (also known as Orange walks) are held annually by members of the Orange Order from April – August. Some groups practice more rigorously than others throughout the year. The parades tend to build up to July 12 celebrations.
The Orange order has faced opposition from Catholics, Irish Nationalists and Scottish Nationalists who have found the parades to be sectarian, although on the Unionist/Loyalist side it is viewed as an important part of ceremony and history.
Unfortunately, tragedy occurred in Belfast this past weekend during a parade resulting in 24 injured officers and a young girl trapped underneath a car.
Fr Gary Donegan, a local priest who was on the scene at the time, said: “She has a head injury and she has a neck injury. But I was actually with her, the poor wee girl was crying, she thought she was dying, and I was trying to reassure her. We got her mammy on the scene to reassure her. Her mother has gone to the hospital. She’s able to move her legs at the moment, but obviously not having medical expertise I can’t comment as to how seriously she is injured, but it’s obviously miraculous that she’s still alive.”
After the parade in Bangor, we proceeded to tour the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum. We spent about 5 hours at the museum touring through an old village, which was fascinating and incredible. The Folk Museum is an incredible place to visit (MN peeps: think Dakota County Fair’s Pioneer Village) with sprawling grounds that allow you to feel that you have been taken back to see what life was like over 100 years ago. There are many cottages, farms, schools, shops and churches that have either been replicated or renovated and placed at the museum with information on history and families who once lived in the various structures.
We saw a blacksmith and he showed us the various fire pokers and odds and ends he creates. Fun fact: he had Johnny Depp in his blacksmith classes. That’s right, ladies. Johnny Depp, master of metals.
We grabbed tea, coffee & light lunches at the Ballycultra Tearoom, enjoying conversations, Irish music and good food!
We went into one of the quaint cottages and a woman was making soda bread (so easy to make & incredibly delicious!) and she talked to us about the history of the cottage and the different kinds of foods people would make in order to feed their families over 100 years ago in NI.
You know when Goldilocks finds the porridge, chair and bed that fit just right? I understood that feeling when I walked in and out of the cottages throughout the museum. The sizes were just right! #shortgirlproblems
We proceeded to go to the exhibit on Irish Dance and walked through to see the variety of dresses, shoes and traditions that have developed over the years. We were all enamored by River Dance (of course!) and saw some of the elaborate costumes from the tour.
We finished our day by going through the Transportation Museum and seeing the variety of trains, buses and cars that were used throughout NI’s history. The museum had an exhibit on the R.M.S. Titanic, which was AWESOME! We saw artifacts from the ship, original building plans and watched various clips from individuals who survived the fateful crash.
After a busy day, we came back to blog, rest and take a couple of hours to relax together. Rory made us dinner, which was super nice of him! We enjoyed a meal together and proceeded to go to Bangor for the evening to dance the night away at Cafe Ceol. Let’s just say that because the drinking age is 18, we did feel overwhelmingly surrounded by high schoolers. But, we had a blast together and it made for an entertaining night!
We finished up the evening with late night pizza around the table before hitting the hay and getting ready for another adventurous day in Northern Ireland!
HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY TO MY BRO, MIKE!!! I hope that you had an awesome day celebrating and we’re going to hit up the town when I’m back! Thank you for blasting rap music in the kitchen, catching humongous fish and always keepin’ it real with your wise-crackin’ comments. Love you!