At the Ulster Museum we focused on two exhibits concerning the troubles in Ireland. The first exhibit contained a collection of photographs from the time that were chilling and often haunting. Pictures taken as a bombs tear through the streets, or of the victims of these attacks. By each picture was a description of the events that had transpired up to that point. This was a great way to bring together the entire story of the troubles into one cohesive narrative.
As this trip goes on I seem to be engaging more and more with the populace of Ireland. Each day I feel like I’m getting a more personal understanding of the people and history of this place. What really resonated with me in the first Troubles Exhibit was something that was kind of shoved off in the corner. On a computer console hidden away at the back of the exhibit was a database filled with voice recordings of people who had been affected by the troubles. These stories ranged from a pregnant women being shot two times while driving past some British soldiers. A man whose cousin was mowed down outside his house on the way to his brothers wedding. A group of nurses who were shot while out on their lunch break. One of them being disabled for life.
You could hear the pain, the anger, the suffering, the remorse in their voices. Loss makes us all equal. No matter which side your on when you lose someone important a part of your soul gets torn away. Often this conflict the only way to turn was a path of revenge and hatred. These were not two faceless sides of soldiers battling against each other. They each have lost family and friends. They strike out against neighbors and coworkers. The reason this conflict is so deeply rooted is because it was so personal. The country was tearing itself apart in their agony. No matter how much I researched this and thought I understood, it really didn’t start to register with me until today.
This reflected over into the next exhibit we went to, the art of the troubles. These pieces touched on views from both sides of the conflict. They captured the raw emotion and expressed it in the beauty of art. One of my favorite pieces that was able to capture this was a done by Louis Le Brocquy. It’s called “Distant Image” and is in the same style as the majority of his art. Situated in the center of a white canvas is a single screaming face. Roughly done, it seems as if the scream itself is blurring the lines of the drawing. One red hand comes up block half his face as if protecting it from some known horror. This still next by a piece called the victim. A women covered in a white shroud, representing all those that have their lives during this conflict. Finally a sculpture by F.E. Mcwilliam called Woman in bomb blast. This was part of a set that had a contemporary view of the terrible events happening in Ireland. The cost that comes to the innocence of the country. The entire series of sculptures by him shows how women and children have suffered on the idiotic decisions of men, something that has been shown throughout history.
Finally we closed off our afternoon in the best way possible. We had high tea at the Europa Hotel. This is the most bombed hotel in the entirety of Europe, with over fifty direct bomb attacks upon it, it has stood the test of time and is now a beautiful bustling four star hotel. Some of the most amazing tea I have ever had paired with trays full of delicious sandwiches and desserts was a true feast. Pair this with a fantastic conversation that bounced between religious viewpoints, world issues, and the uniqueness of our generation, and all I can say is today was a very fantastic day.