I may have gotten the cart a bit in front of the horse in the last post—the one I wrote about Belleek Pottery. And that’s because I hadn’t yet introduced you to the fact we had officially left the Republic of Ireland for the country of Northern Ireland.
You’d hardly realized we’d cross the border if it weren’t pointed out. Crossing the bridge over the Lough Erne and immediately entering the parking lot of the Belleek factory, there are no guards, no checking of passports, no “pomp and circumstance” at all—and that’s a good thing.
I was raised during the time of violence in Northern Ireland, and hunger strikes resulting in death, and film of bombings on the evening news a common occurrence. I certainly never thought I’d live to see the day that the two countries sharing the island of Ireland would live in peace and harmony. Just like I never thought I’d be there, seeing if for myself!
Growing up, I erroneously thought the north was entirely Protestant, and the south was Catholic, and yet it’s about half and half in the north.
Truth be told, the Irish of the northern portion would love to reunite the country—but money talks, and they receive millions each year from the UK for economic development, and free prescriptions, so why change now?
And speaking of money. In Northern Ireland, the currency is the British Sterling, whereas in the Republic, we used Euros. It makes figuring out the actual cost of our purchases (from food to refrigerator magnets) a little more complicated, but the prices always translated to being right in line with what we’d been paying in the south.
We arrived in Belfast just in time to check in and head for dinner. The next morning, we’d be off for a full day to the top coast of Ireland, to the Giant’s Causeway, and exploring this capital city would have to wait till our second morning there.