In July I flew to Ireland to attend the wedding of a friend and fellow team-mate. This being my first visit to Ireland, I wanted to see the sites. In doing a little research I found a few sites worth visiting, namely the famed Giant's Causeway
. Legend has it that Finn MacCool, Ireland's notorious giant built the causeway to challenge the great giant of Scotland Benandonner, Finn's greatest rival, to a fight. As Benandonner was crossing the causeway Finn realized the massive size and strength of his opponent. Being no match, Finn fled home. His very cunning wife Oonagh, devised a plan. She dressed Finn as a baby complete with a giant bonnet and booties, when Benandonner arrived, Oonagh invited him in and asked that he not wake their sleeping baby. Looking at the baby, Benandonner thought, "if this is the child, I have no wish to meet the father." So he ran all the way back to Scotland ripping up the causeway as we went. I found the Causeway, spectacular! It is amazing to see hexagon shaped rocks. I was told of how they were scientifically formed, something about lava being cooled by the ocean, but I like the legend better.
Another place I visited was Dunluce Castle. Surrounded by cliffs and ocean on 3 sides, this castle was virtually impregnable. In fact, history says that it was not until the invention of gunpowder that this castle was finally taken over.
After touring the northern coast of Ireland, I made my way to Belfast. When searching for things to see and do in this city, I was at a loss. Most of the information I came across was not tourist in nature but violence, hatred, & political sectarianism. Driving around with some members of my team, we soon came face to face with some of the remnants of the North Ireland "Troubles
." The Troubles refer to the years of violent Catholic and Protestant conflict. However, the various groups in opposition with each other are more nationalistic and political then they are religious. This is seen in the likes of the UVF and the IRA. We drove through neighborhoods which to this day are still separated by a giant fence, with "Catholic" bourghs on one side and "Protestant" bourghs on the other. One street in particular, Shankill Road
, displayed numerous murals depicting tribute to fallen "solders" and hateful slogans. Burned out buildings, smoldering, rubble filled lots, and police stations with 30 foot security fences are all common place on Shankill Road. In the eerie silence of the street we could faintly hear U2's song, "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" playing in the backs of our minds. It was eye opening to witness a Western country with smoke still rising from acts of terror and hatred preformed in the name of the "church."
After my tour I went to the wedding, ate some cake, and toasted to both bride and groom, with the best Guinness to ever touch my lips. Laying in bed that night my mind stirred with thoughts of all the beauty in God's creation, even hexagon shaped rocks, and the splendor of man's potential through out history, with castles and skyscrapers- why can't we accomplish one simple thing- love? Instead we continue to fight with each other like giant babies! Paul wrote that, "Our struggle is NOT
with flesh and blood..." So when we find ourselves fighting with each other, we are engaged in spiritual friendly fire and not fighting the real battle.
"God, may your Church once again live up to it's name- being unified as one, and loving one another. So that the world may know that You are God and Jesus is Your Son!"
Labels: castle, Giant's Causeway, IRA, North Ireland, UVF