Friday, May 29, 2015

Moira Ní Ghallachoir Presentation on Donegal Adventure and Cultural Travel


Monday, June 1, 2015 7 pm
Capital District Celtic Cultural Association (Celtic Hall)
430 New Karner Road, Albany (Colonie), NY

If you are interested in Irish culture or in nature and adventure travel, this is the event for you!

Donegal is an area of immense natural beauty with a low population density and generally low economic activity. I think there are parallels with the Catskills and the Adirondacks. Moira has formed a company which combines deep connections to the culture of Donegal with experiences in the wild areas.

Moira Ní Ghallachoir will be in the Albany, NY, area to give a free 30 minute presentation (light refreshments to follow) which is open to the general public and to answer questions about her organization on Monday, June 1st 2015 at 7 PM at Celtic Hall.

Want to know more about MNG Cultural Tours?

Moira's says:

We at WWW.MNG.IE are a bilingual company, working to develop and promote tourism in Donegal, Ireland with emphasis on the Gaeltacht (Gaelic speaking region).

Associating the term “World Class” when describing Donegal is partly what inspired me to start MNG – an enterprise that combines our outstanding natural resources with local services to create remarkable & highly memorable experiences. In an area with little infrastructure, MNG is a solution. Our mission is to provide bilingual adventure holidays and cultural tours that are personalized and infused with the unique, local & authentic Gaelic culture. Additionally, we seek to develop Donegal, in particular West Donegal into a thriving tourism destination.

What is the Capital District Celtic Cultural Association (CDCCA)?

The mission of the Capital District Celtic Cultural Association (CDCCA) is to support and preserve the Celtic culture throughout the Capital District of New York State.

Call (518) 250-5890 if you have a question.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

New Gate In Interface Wall In Belfast, Northern Ireland

Did you know the installation of a new gate in Belfast, Northern Ireland is very important?

Let's start with some basics.

Do you know Belfast is a divided City?

Most people outside Ireland who are old enough can associate the phrase, "The Troubles" with the conflict in Ireland, and mostly in Northern Ireland.

What many people around the world do not know is that in Belfast and Derry there are walls to separate those perceived as in favor of Ireland being a republic independent of Britain (Nationalists/Republicans) who mostly are members of the Roman Catholic branch of the Christian religion from those perceived as in favor of Ireland remaining in the United Kingdom (Unionists/Loyalists) who are mostly members of the Protestant branch of the Christian religion.

The communities are separated by 21 miles of walls in Belfast. These walls, which some have dubbed interface walls, are seriously impenetrable concrete, steel, and razor wire monstrosities with limited gates which are mostly closed at night.  The interface walls work from two respects.  They complicate matters for those who wish to riot or otherwise hurl insults and missiles at what they perceive to be the other side.  On the other hand, those who are more concerned with being harmed, than with doing harm, feel safer knowing the walls are there. These non-aggressors think they are safer than if the walls and gates did not exist.

The negative side effects are numerous.  Among them are the lack of interaction of the two communities. Most of the neighborhoods are not specifically mixed and have been either side of the interface walls for two generations. Approximately 91 percent of the primary schools are religiously affiliated. As a result the children play different sports and thus have no cause to mix even in athletic competition.

Of course, church attendance is segregated.  However, some vanguards of peace and understanding have made a point of crossing that line by intentionally attending the services and gatherings of their opposite faith and by forming friendships which crossed the line.

While historically segregated, workplaces have been subjected to a series of laws and monitoring so that integration of the two communities is strongest at places of employment.

However, in regard to the darker and more hidden side of the conflict, in 2012/13 there were 411 cases of individuals and families who informed the Northern Ireland Housing Executive that they were homeless because they had been intimidated into leaving their properties.  This is probably the tip of an even larger iceburg because the individual or family must name any paramilitary groups involved in their intimidation and the police must agree.

Now comes this development where a new gate was installed in the interface wall at Workman Avenue near the Springfield Road.  Here is a view of the former gate:

Here is a view of the new gate under construction:

The gate is see through and everything else about it is the result of cross-community consultations.  The community selected the brown color.  The community members asked for decorative golden balls on the top of the tines so that it would look more like the gate to a formal garden.

Sometimes change comes in increments.  While this gate might not seem like enough change to some, it is a vast change to those who live there.  And it came about with consultation with the people who live there.

Now the two sides can see into the other neighborhood and that change might make it easier to realize the people who live on the other side are neighbors.

Here is a link to an article in Belfast Live where you can see the completed gate: