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West Belfast - A Walk Through the Troubled History of Northern Ireland

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A West Belfast Walking Tour - Madness?
Paramilitary Mural - Welcoming You to Belfast

Paramilitary Mural - Welcoming You to Belfast

© 2008 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

"You mean I am actually supposed to walk in a war zone?" Well, yes, of sorts - but times are a-changing.

When I first walked the streets detailed below in the very early 1980s I would not have recommended the experience for the faint-hearted. Some kids took time out from talking to me to throw a few handy bricks at a passing police car. After getting a snack in a shop under the serene glance of Queen Elizabeth II a few concerned citizens asked me about my business in their neighborhood with a it more than a glimmer of madness in their eyes. And then there was the moment when I fumbled with my camera when an armored car passed by, earning me the undivided attention of some British soldiers. One of which was pointing a deadly weapon at my head.

Retracing my steps recently I realized just how much things had changed. Not only the scenery minus barricades, barbed wire and burnt-out cars in front of sub-standard housing. People too have changed and a stranger with a camera no longer causes a knee-jerk (or -capping) response. So let's go for a walk in West Belfast ...

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