Divided by a common language

I had to go back to Ireland in May of this year for a few days to attend a family matter. I could understand my new stepfathers accent easily enough but one of his friends came to visit and even thou they both conversed easily I couldn’t understand a single word he said. He asked me a question and I had to get him to repeat it three times but it was lost on me, I had no idea what he was asking. I wonder was that what it was like for Londoners when I came across the water, I do remember being told to speak slower, and on a few occasions I got inappropriate responses to questions, I either got blank stares or else the other person looked at his watch and said ‘quarter past three…’ it happened frequently..

It rained *somewhat* whilst I was there, there are only two types of weather in Northern Ireland; either ‘it’s raining’ or ‘it’s about to rain..’ However I did manage to get out a bit and have a nosey around, I found Dunluce Castle, what’s so famous about Dunluce Castle is that it’s falling into the sea, I seem to recall some story about the kitchen falling over the cliff edge, I hope it was after dinner.. oh and beside it was the worlds most comfortable tea shop with roaring fire, a big sofa and lots of pussycats 🙂 not too close to the edge though!

I stayed with my stepfather in his house in Ballymoney, was an ermm ‘interesting’ experience, it was a hastly arranged trip and I didn’t have time to pack reading material, so after supper I asked him if he had anything to read, he said “Aye yes, he had the Bible, The Illustrated Bible, The Good News Bible and the Large Print Bible” …doh!.. I had brought a New Scientist magazine with me from the newsagent in Heathrow airport, by the end of the day I had read it from cover to cover – four times..

They take their religion very seriously in Northern Ireland, he gave me a tour of the local town and pointed out the six Protestant churches, I asked where was the Catholic church and he almost crashed the car, he wondered why on earth I would want to know that… (because it will wind you up, because it will wind youuuu up…) He asked me what church I attended, for fun I told him I was a Buddhist…and he seriously said to me ‘is that a Protestant Buddhist church or a Catholic Buddhist church.. *sigh*

Living there during the 80’s was very depressing but here’s the thing, the Northern Ireland conflict went on for 30 years and has a history that stretches back endless years and everyone is/was divided along religious lines – and when I was living there I couldn’t ever see an end to the violence, yet here we are today and both sides have renounced violence and are both working together in the NI Assembly.

There has been massive reforms but bitter enemies are working together now, it’s not been an easy path, there’s been huge heartache on both side but there is peace now and folk are able to walk down the street without fear of attack. I’m telling you this because there are other conflicts similar to ‘The Troubles’ going on this very minute throughout the world, the Arab/Israel conflict being similar ..and yet, maybe, just maybe…

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