Christmas trees and colorful decorations remain bright and festive as Dubliners and foreign visitors to Ireland’s famous capital city pass the pints and sing along with the colorful ‘trad’ band and celebrate the energy of the Irish step dancers as we wind down the last moments of 2013. I’m lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve with our Aunt Marian and a few moments with our Da, Tommy Doherty, who have come to Dublin to welcome me from Waterford before I head up to Derry. How special.
What struck me was not that the well-known flag of Britain marked the territory we were entering, but ‘how’ it was so prominently placed. It flew from a private citizen’s home; a flag that appeared large enough to fly from a government building rather than a private home. With all of the controversy surrounding ‘flags, parades, and the past’ which ultimately prevented the Hass agreement from coming to fruition, this highly controversial symbol of Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist tradition boldly flying in front of me as I glided into the region on tracks set without an official demarcation or border spoke volumes to me. It quickly brought to mind what Christy was singing about in that highly emotional concert in Dublin and what we were to be covering the next week and half. A symbol which spoke of centuries of political dominance by a foreign power and that tears through the hearts of people of a region bloodied through wars and battles of loyalty and defiance. This symbol became more and more prominent as the train progressed further into the region. In some places, entire residential streets were lined with Union Jacks clearly making a statement. The Georgian-style, red-brick homes with English-style back gardens and conservatories also became more prominent. As I passed the peaceful landscape of sheep, seaside towns, and carefully maintained farms, it became clear that I was also entering a highly controversial region where views of peace and beauty for centuries sat, and still sit in contrast to ideologies, religion, and culture. I quickly realized that I was entering a region of identity wars.
|Photo from Google Images|