A Windows Live Local collection posted yesterday to the location sharing website, PassThePoi, really caught my attention. “History of Northern Ireland’s Troubles” identifies the locations of several key events in the history of that country and included extra information, photos and links about them all. It’s a fascinating way to learn things, and this has been one of many collections that I’ve enjoyed from that site.
Having served an LDS mission in Ireland, I found this collection particularly interesting because it finally answered some questions I had about some of the things I saw over there. For example, for three months I was in the city Londonderry (or Derry, depending on who you talk to), and lived less than a mile away from the Bogside neighborhood. As we walked around the city, we saw many murals depicting what had happened there, and occasionally people would bring up bits of the story, or the resulting conflict, in our conversations with them. I was fascinated by the history, but never really understood it as much as I’d like to, as our focus was obviously on something else at the time.
After looking through this collection, and reading about “Battle of the Bogside” and “Bloody Sunday,” it all finally started to come together. I had no idea that it had all started right there….that Bogside was essentially the flashpoint that sparked much of the troubles that Ulster was still suffering from. I’m grateful for all the helpful information that people have compiled, in Wikipedia articles and Flickr photo clusters especially, to help folks like me piece all this together.
For two short weeks of my mission, I was assigned to the beautiful town of Omagh. I remember walking up and down those streets and having some very interesting gospel discussions with the people there. In August of 1998, shortly after returning home, I watched in horror the news reports of the bombing that took place there in the city center, in what looked to be an area that I had passed by several times only months before. I was glad to learn, however, that this event was somewhat of a turning point in the troubles – that people condemned the act, rather than retaliating against it. It’s great to see that Northern Ireland seems to be moving on. I realize that there are still some wrinkles that are yet to be worked out, and that there will probably still be issues, but it seems that for the most part, things are better. I can only hope that I might be able to return there someday and enjoy that beautiful country and all it’s amazing scenery and fascinating people once again.