Tripadvisor rated the black cab tour as one of the top things to do while in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Rightly so.
To say that we were totally unaware of the strife in Belfast would be incorrect as we had, like most tourists who are first time visitors to the country, vaguely heard of the IRA and the bombings during the 80s.
What we did not know until we did the tour was how strong the divide still was between the Catholics, who identified themselves as Irish, and the Protestants who identify themselves as part of Britain. We saw concrete walls metres thick that divide Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods. There were gates that closed after seven in the evening making it impossible to cross over to the next neighbourhood. There were murals on houses idolising men who have pulled the trigger for one side or the other.
Here are some images that say more than I can put in words. The first photograph is of a mural celebrating Stevie Top Gun – the poppies around him show the number of people he had killed during his lifetime, starting with his first murder at the age of 17.
The huge bonfire in the next photograph is to celebrate July 12th, the day William the conqueror landed in Ireland. This day is celebrated as orange day by the Protestants.
Below that is a photograph of the peace wall that British soldiers made to prevent violence. Or so they hoped. It lay a permanent mark of division among the communities.
And finally, houses close to the walls fencing their balconies to prevent stones and debris from the other side hitting them. A clear indication of the hatred that still brews.