In 2008, I had the privilege of leading an Alumni Association travel group on a 13-day tour of Ireland, including three days in Northern Ireland. While I had been to Ireland on previous occasions, this was my first visit to the north, long known for sectarian strife between its Roman Catholic and Protestant populations.
We started by touring the political murals of Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. The murals depict past political and religious divisions, particularly during the Troubles, a civil war that raged from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. Seeing the haunting images and hearing the vivid descriptions of brutality and loss, I could feel how deep and raw the scars of conflict still were, even though relative peace has persisted for almost a decade.
Following Belfast we visited Derry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the place many consider the starting point of the Troubles. After a walking tour, we met with fellow Bronco Martha Suto ’70, who has lived in Derry since 1973. After presenting her with a Santa Clara sweatshirt (she hadn’t had a new one since college!), we sat down to hear her stories.