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Cross-Cultural Program: Ireland and Northern Ireland 2001
Group Journal Oct 25-31

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  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
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  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Beautiful sunset
Sunset over Corrymeela and Ballycastle
in outdoor service work this week has been a great opportunity to observe the wonders of God's creation. There have been many times when I have stopped what I was doing for a few moments to observe the beautiful scenery. It is truly amazing to be able to work in a location where the ocean and an island [Rathlin Island] are visible. On a clear day it is even possib le to catch a small glimpse of Scotland.

The beauty of nature is definitely something that is very evident at Corrymeela. I have noticed several beautiful sunsets over the small town of Ballycastle. I have also seen the beginnings of fall in the slow process of the changing leaves. The green rolling hills around the countryside accentuate the beautiful view around Corrymeela. Truly the most beneficial aspect of being at Corrymeela for me has been the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature.
--Jason Yoder



Friday, October 26, 2001

The final day of work! Some have really enjoyed this time away from their studies, working out in the crisp air. Others are relieved that there are no more heavy objects to drag around... other than their luggage!

We celebrated in the evening by having a Movie Blitz... five videos were rented and we watched until we just couldn't watch no more.



Saturday, October 27, 2001

A free day, and our last day at Corrymeela until December. The movies that didn't get watched last night were viewed today; other activities included sleeping, packing, sleeping, going into Ballycastle, sleeping, talking on the phone and sleeping.

Gloria and Anne chose to take the ferry out to Rathlin Island, the one we've all been looking at for the past two weeks. It was a beautiful clear day, although very windy. We didn't think the wind would matter, but once we got out onto the ocean into the whitecaps for our

50-minute journey, we changed our minds. However, Dramamine now makes a less drowsy formula, so we arrived reasonably intact.

Rathlin Island now has about 30-35 families living there; the island is shaped somewhat like a boomerang and is 7 miles long and 1 mile wide. The islanders make their living from farming, fishing and tourism. Unlike the Aran Islands, however, the fields are not man-made. The wind is ferocious and guarantees that there are few trees on Rathlin.

Once on the island, we found someone to take us out to the western tip, about five miles, to the bird sanctuary on Bull Point. Gloria was ready to see puffins and I would settle for anything more interesting than sheep. The sanctuary boasts thousands of seabirds, including puffins, kittiwakes, and razorbills. Unfortunately for us, though, they all have winter accommodations elsewhere, as we discovered after our brisk hike out to the cliff edge. Fortunately the view was amazing and the rain showers brief. We could even see Corrymeela from the cliff, with binoculars. It was a great day, made more special by the fact that both Gloria and I spoke to our mothers from there... on our mobile phones. It was a fascinating thing to be standing in the middle of the fields, overlooking the ocean, talking to Mom!

At the opposite end of the island is Bruce's Cave; in 1306, Robert the Bruce, exiled King of Scotland, was hiding in this cave. He supposedly watched a spider climbing a thread and admired its perseverance. This inspired the Bruce to return to Scotland and win back his kingdom. Think of that the next time you step on one (a spider, not a king)!

The trip back was rough, but the Dramamine triumphed again. We spent the evening talking with the students and playing games and getting packed to move on to Belfast.



Sunday, October 28, 2001

A few in our group began the day worshipping with visitors from the Iona Community. This is a Christian retreat centre on the island of Iona, off the western coast of Scotland.
Thank you to the Corrymeela voulnteers
Thanking our Corrymeela volunteers; Zhanna, Paul, and Luke
It's a sister community to Corrymeela, and they were having a weekend seminar together. It was interesting to meet some of those people and share communion with them.

After lunch, and a grand cleaning of the Village, our home for the past two weeks, we set off for Belfast. We stopped at a large Sainsbury's grocery on the way so people could stock up on necessities ("OOH, look, they have Diet Dr. Pepper!!" "Microwave popcorn!").

We arrived at the St. Clement's Retreat Centre (we keep retreating!) in the late
Ryan takes a dive chasing Matt
Ryan and Matt play American football while waiting for the bus

afternoon and were warmly welcomed by Father Seamus. He showed us around the building, including the all-important payphone, and we settled into our rooms. We each have a single room, which is nice and private, although the single shower on most of our halls leaves a bit to be desired.

St. Clement's is on the Antrim Road, about 5-6 miles north of the city centre. It's built on the top of a fabulous hill overlooking Lagan Weir (the river leading out into the Irish Sea), which houses the famous Harlan and Wolfe Shipyard (including the huge Samson and Goliath cranes) where the Titanic was built, as well as a large part of the city. You can watch the huge ferries going over to Scotland from the front of the centre. Behind the centre's buildings lies Cave Hill, the mountain which overlooks all of Belfast. Bus service is good, although you have to walk UP the steep hill when you get back! Despite being so close to the city, and being surrounded by residential areas, it's a peaceful, lovely place which we are definitely enjoying.



Monday, October 29, 2001

City Hall was our destination this morning. We arrived at the "heart of Belfast" about 10:30 and were given a very thorough tour of the building by a very diction/volume-conscious tour guide. It may be the first tour we've had on this trip where we've heard and understood everything that the guide said! She showed us through the beautiful building, completed in 1906. The stained glass
Meeting the Lord Mayor of Belfast
The Lord Mayor of Belfast
windows throughout the building are memorials to those who have died in the service of their country, histories of business and industry and depictions of the various counties of Ulster. Marble, murals and elaborate plasterwork are a part of the interior design as well. The Great Hall was almost totally destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II; fortunately the stained glass windows had been removed for safety and were re-installed when the Hall was rebuilt. In the gardens one can find a statue in honor of Queen Victoria as well as a memorial commemorating the 1912 sinking of the Belfast-built R.M.S. Titanic. The building and grounds are magnificent, but we couldn't help but realize how much of a monument to King/Queen and country it is... how comfortable could the Nationalists be in this building?

Following our tour of the building, we were ushered into the Lord Mayor's Parlor to meet him. Jim Rodgers is a very genial, welcoming man who seems to truly love his city and has a desire to work towards unity. He greeted each of us individually and presented us with a plaque of the Belfast Coat of Arms.

After a break for lunch, we returned to St. Clement's to meet with Joe Campbell. Joe is a member of Mediation Network, an organization which provides mediation for Northern Ireland and attempts to facilitate community relations. He was very helpful in getting us to ask him questions about the Troubles that we may not have had an opportunity to ask anyone and in providing answers to those questions (as much as possible). He also is a graduate student in the EMU Conflict Resolution Program, so he and Gloria enjoyed talking with each other.



Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Today we took a tour of two areas of West Belfast that have suffered a lot from the Troubles. Our first stop was the Shankill Road, a strong Protestant area. We met with a restorative justice group called Greater Shankill Alternatives. This group works with
Shankill tour
The group pausing on a tour of the Shankill
youths who have been involved in criminal activity. These activities include car theft, robberies and assaults. The group brings together the Protestant young people and their Protestant victims against whom they have done these acts. Alternatives does what the title says - they offer an alternative to criminal acts other than what paramilitary groups have in mind.
Mural on the Falls tour
A mural on the Falls tour
A former paramilitary member spoke to us; he was involved in acts of terrorism. He now works with this group and has played a huge role in reaching out to the youth in this area.

The other part of the tour included the section of West Belfast known as the Falls. Here we met with a similar group, Community Restorative Justice, that works with victims of crime in that area; these people would be Catholic. Here we heard from two ex-IRA members who have dedicated their lives to working for restorative justice. We then received a tour of the Milltown Cemetery. In this graveyard are buried many Catholic men, women and children who have been killed during the Troubles. Walking through the cemetery I realized what kind of impact the violence has made on Northern Ireland. I don't know whether it was the woman five graves down grieving over a lost father, husband, son or daughter, or the sight of mothers, fathers and sons all buried together on the same day that caused that realization. As I walked through the graveyard and read peoples' headstones, I couldn’t help but realize that there is no one in Northern Ireland who is unaffected by the Troubles.
--Matthew Clemmer



Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Today our group visited Stormont, the estate where the Parliament of Northern Ireland meets to make decisions on behalf of the feuding citizens it represents, although, in all actuality, the parliamentary body itself does most of the squabbling in this country. The building itself became the home of the Assembly in 1932 and has remained so ever since.

During our visit,we met with a
Dermot Nesbitt of the UUP
Dermont Nesbitt
representative of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Mr. Dermot Nesbitt. Mr. Nesbitt was cordial in meeting with a group of American students. In fact, he even decided to indulge us with the story of how he was in Richmond, Virginia, when his first grandchild was born. Mr. Nesbitt, who fits the description of the typical corn-fed white politician, was gracious enough to answer our questions. In fact, he demanded that we ask him questions, although in answering them he showed his true political spirit, in that he never really answered them at all.

The tour of the building itself was exciting, if you like sitting in the chamber where the body itself meets to make decisions. The tour guide Kyle was a pretty cool guy and was interesting to listen to. He actually made it possible for Derek King, Sarah Moffat,
Anne, Mervyn, and Gloria
Anne, Dr. Mervyn Love, and Gloria

Megan Raborn and Jon Hewes to attend the no-doubt historical proceeding that were to take place two days later [more about this next week].

All in all, the visit to Stormont was fun for some, boring for others.
--Joel Daly

In the evening Belfast celebrated Halloween. This is a big event here, with lots of people going out in the streets in costume, many parties thrown around town, and most importantly...

FIREWORKS! Since St. Clement's is up on a hill overlooking a major part of the city, those of us who didn't go into town could see an amazing display for about 4 hours. In any direction you looked, you would see fireworks exploding, from the tiny ones to huge starbursts. We estimated that a firework went off within our range of vision at least every 5 seconds for those 4 hours. Fireworks were illegal until the cease-fire a few years ago, for obvious reasons - it's easier to make a pipe bomb if you can get the gunpowder out of fireworks instead of trying to buy the gunpowder - so people are really pulling out all the stops now. It was rather eerie, knowing what we do of Northern Ireland's violent history in the past 30 years, to stand and listen to the explosions echoing off the mountain behind us, sounding like mortar fire.




HomeJournalsLinksWebteamMapsOld Site
  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
  Oct 8-16 MP Oct 17-24 MP Oct 25-31 MP Nov 1-8 MP Nov 9-17 MP **
  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)