Some people including myself have gotten confused regarding the differences between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ireland is called the Republic of Ireland and it is it’s own sovereign nation having declared independence from Great Britain.
Northern Ireland on the other hand is still part of the United Kingdom and shares a border with the Republic of Ireland. It was created in 1921 by the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. During that time the majority of the population of Northern Ireland were unionists that wanted to stay within the United Kingdom. These “unionists” were primarily descendants of colonists from Great Britain.
The minority were mainly Catholics that were nationalists whose goal was to have a united Ireland. The unionists generally view themselves as British and the Catholics generally identified as Irish. These two sides were plagued with violence, hostility and discrimination for most of the 20th century. The two sides had violent conflicts from the 60’s to mid 1990’s in an era called “The Troubles”. This era claimed 3,500 lives and left over 50,000 casualties.
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement was a major step in peace between the two sides. Today, there is more peace between the two sides, but there are still major social issues and some violence from time to time.
During our trip to Northern Ireland, we didn’t even realize when we crossed the border and we didn’t see any conflict or any signs of trouble. It seemed pretty safe from our short time there. You need to keep in mind that they use the Sterling Pound and not the Euro like in Ireland.
Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and one of the places we spent the night while there. There are numerous famous places to see and one of our guiding plans was to see the locations where Game of Thrones was filmed.
Click on the posts below to find out more about areas you are interested in exploring.