Before I leap into Belfast, I wanted to talk about St. Andrews for a few.
I forgot to mention that St. Andrews is the patron saint of Scotland. At one point in time, it was the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland and people would take pilgrimages there. Andrew’s knee, an arm, some fingers and some teeth were kept here. The white “X” in the Scotland flag is the diagonal cross on which Andrew was crucified. According to legend, St. Rule had a dream to bring the relics northward and the ship carrying them shipwrecked there.
With the reformation, the church was picked over. In England, churches were destroyed but in Scotland it happened gradually.
Today, I did a tour of the Antrim Coast, and I loved it! I would certainly visit there again. My favorite part was the Giant Causeway which is absolutely amazing. Also visited the Dunluce Castle. Apparently in 1639 dinner was interrupted by half the kitchen falling in the sea! This is after surviving sieges and attacks, go figure. Nature decided to take it out. We stopped by Olds Bushmills Distillery, but no tour. I don’t like whiskey or beer so I’ll pass. Also went to Carrick-a-Rede-Rope Bridge, which I thought about walking over but it was very steep and I don’t like the feeling of falling over, plus I wore the wrong shoes. LOL.
Today, on the way back to the hostel, I came across the marching of some Unionist. They had the Sandy Row flag so they are from around here. Apparently a few days before I got here, some folks decided to display a “show of strength” by setting up their own checkpoint, and they were armed. I guess the police didn’t interfere. Some folks say they should have but others say it would have just escalated into violence.
The guide from the tour told me that things were much improved these last ten to fifteen years. The fact that tourists are coming is a testimony to this. He said that 99.9% want peace but it’s that 0.1% that are causing the problem. People refer to it as the “Troubled” time in the history.
It’s sad here, and it has been a war zone, but even in the midst of chaos there is always hope and I think the good in people will overcome those who want to dwell in the status quo of division.
So tomorrow it’s off to Dublin. I was going to take the train but part of the track collapsed last week so bus it is!