Postcards from Ireland: A Day in County Down

It is hard to miss the strong connections between Ireland and Canada. We have heard so many stories over the past weeks, so many stories of emigration to our frigid shores. That includes our friend in Canada, born and bred in Northern Ireland and now living just across the Assiniboine River from us in Winnipeg. As it turns out, her sister still lives in Belfast and, after a few email exchanges, we have arranged to meet up with her.

So begins our road trip through the Irish countryside. Emma, our host, is at the wheel. Alfie, the affable border collie, is comfortably sprawled over the backseat and Gail’s lap. I am riding side-saddle in the front, trying to guess where we are.

Emma takes us south of Belfast and into rural County Down, along impossibly narrow roads tightly lined with stone fences. Roads not too dissimilar from the ones we walked throughout our cross-Ireland trek, pressing ourselves into the curbside walls as cars passed.  Continue reading

Postcards from Ireland: A Day in Belfast

From the comfort of our bus seats, we glide quietly down the highway on our way from Dublin to Belfast. We are barely aware of the boundary we are crossing – only a modest chime emitted by my iPhone and a text message that I have entered the United Kingdom and roaming charges may apply.

Looking out our window, it’s the same lush landscape, the same blue skies. But, somewhere out there, we crossed an invisible line. A line that has nothing to do with landscape or geography. Just politics and conflict. Continue reading