To any history buff, tales of conflict offer a great insight into the good and bad side of human nature, as well as its effects on the cultures that are involved. It is always a fascinating subject, evoking wonder, sympathy and hopefully the wisdom of the lessons that were learned. However, it is extremely rare to be able to visit a previously conflicted area, speak with living witnesses and see the progress of peace. That is the singularly unique feature of this personally escorted tour of Northern Ireland, guided by none other than Martin Bell, OBE. |
For many of us who can recall the last few decades, the ongoing tension in Northern Ireland was rarely far from the newspaper headlines. Whether you’ve lived in Ireland or on the UK mainland, the conflict’s effect was felt in one way or another, ranging from delayed commutes on the Tube due to bomb threats to families whose relatives were part of the armed forces stationed in Northern Island and were personally affected.
Our generation now has the unique opportunity to view what was known as The Troubles with the benefit of hindsight, as well as with an appreciation for the important stories from living witnesses from both sides of the divide. Martin Bell, who reported for the BBC and was on the streets during some of the most volatile times, offers a uniquely objective view of the area’s history, culture and ultimately its progress towards peace. Mr. Bell now conducts escorted tours of the region’s sites that were once considered hot spots or ‘no go’ zones.
On either side of the conflict, passions and tensions remain, and the memory of the fallen is still palpable in the region. This rare, one-of-a-kind escorted tour provides the rare opportunity to hear the stories from those who lived it. According to special guest speaker Martin Bell, “The streets and landmarks of Belfast remain – the Protestant Shankill, the Roman Catholic Falls Roa, and of course the Europa Hotel, which was the main press hotel of the time. The shipyard where the Titanic was built is now a theme park. The political landscape has changed mainly for the better… I look forward to sharing my memories and experiences from that time.”
Visitors on this escorted tour will visit key sites and hear from those who were personally affected by the violence and conflict. Key points of interest will include:
• A visit to the once notorious Shankill and Falls Road locations, accompanied by ex-political prisoners from either side of the divide.
• A guided exploration of Crossmaglen. Once a Republican stronghold and the base for active paramilitary factions, it was commonly known as “Bandit Country”.
• A visit to the renowned Crumlin Road Prison, which held political prisoners from both sides of The Troubles.
A Beautiful Country
Despite Northern Ireland’s history of the conflict, the region serves as an example of peaceful resolution in action today. Underneath it all, Northern Ireland remains a stunningly beautiful country that’s rich with culture and natural beauty. This personally escorted tour will also introduce you to the scenic Antrim Coast, the impressive Giant’s Causeway and the stunning old walled city of Derry.
Northern Ireland is shedding its historic identity of conflict and tension and rising above the fray into a fabulously exciting, progressive and innovative city full of hope and progress. This particular tour pays tribute to the importance of the past and the learning opportunities it affords us, as well as embracing the beauty of a city that is so much more than its history.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays for over 30 years. Recently his well-received escorted tour itineraries, which venture to the far corners of the globe, have been included in Prestige’s luxury holiday portfolio. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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