We had a day out across the border yesterday. It is still an extraordinary place. Particularly at this time of year, the visual impact of the flags is everywhere. Whatever else they symbolise, they are a sign of deep levels of conflict unresolved. But that seems to have no impact whatsoever on the underlying kindness and warmth of the people. Aspects of it seem almost brash – but there is a strong sense of a community where people still connect with one another in ways which have been lost elsewhere. The constant use of ‘wee’ – as in ‘could I take your wee supermarket trolley, dear?’ and ‘just put in your wee PIN’ all helps to humanise.
We visited Belfast City Council’s Amenity Site on Kennedy Way in West Belfast – being still Belfast ratepayers. That’s an area which would have seen more than its share of the conflict in times past. I could have spent much more time there – delightful and friendly people telling me where to put the mattress and the carpet underlay. Their post-conflict world now seems to be an ordered place focused on recycling.
We passed by Seagoe and called in to the churchyard. It’s a society where cremation is probably the exception rather than the rule. So I had a brief wander remembering people – wonderful people. They are well-remembered in the community but I hope their story is written down as well. It was sad to see Harry our former organist recently laid to rest – and Aubrey our former Sexton close by. We shared some remarkable experiences like the day Daniel O’Donnell came to Sarah’s funeral with a red rose up his sleeve.
By now we were getting into the patois. So we found ourselves in B&Q looking for a number of things – including of course a doofer for hoaking stuff out from between the paving slabs. No problem at all. And would we just go on the website to say that we hope the store won’t close ….