Among so many other things, I have learned that my undying love for museums certainly extends to Ireland, and the Ulster Museum is one more museum to have captured my affection.
The museum houses all sorts of collections, ranging from art to human history to the natural sciences, and is one the most diverse museums I have ever been to.
The actions during this time period were a series of cause and effect, and so I feel that they may be best explained by a timeline, to clearly show what happened.
But first, a bit of background. In the 20th century, Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, was a nation with a majority of Protestants (65%) and a Catholic minority (35%), a result of an already long and troubled history between Ireland and Britain. The twenty-six counties of the Republic of Ireland has already been granted independence. Catholics in Northern Ireland aspired to gain independence from the UK as well, while Protestants wanted to remain withing the UK. Each side formed its own political party and subsequent paramilitary groups, including (among many others) the Catholic IRA (the Irish Republican Army) and the Protestant UVF (Ulster Voluntary Force). Tensions between the two parties rose and rose, until the 'meltdown' of the Troubles.
The Troubles is a broad name for this time, during which violence lead to the death of approximately 3,600 people, and the injury of thousands. It is one of the less talked about conflicts of the 20th century, possibly because much prejudice and debate about the subject still exist.
The following timeline is largely taken from the Ulster Museum's exhibit, with some of my own additions.
A (very) brief timeline of the Troubles
tensions rise due to Protestant and Catholic inequalities
often recognized as the first year of the troubles, with the 5th of October seen as the first day, with Catholic protesters confronting the police in Londonderry
violence continues to mount, with 22 people dieing, government implements internment (detention without trial) to try to help stop violence
the most violent year of the troubles, 323 civilians, 41 policement, and 103 soldiers are killed
January 30: Bloody Sunday, 14 Catholic protesters are gunned down by British soldiers in Derry after a march goes awry
July 21: Blood Friday: 2 soldiers and 7 civilians are killed by IRA bombs in Belfast
violence has continued to rise with the death of many children and adults in the past years. Republican activists are jailed at Maze and forbidden to keep their status as political prisons, leading to several months of hunger strike and the death of ten
the Anglo-Irish agreement is signed by Irish Toaiseach Garret Fitzgerald and English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, stating that Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK, but the Irish government would be allowed an advisory role in the rule of Northern Ireland
with violence continuing, the government puts out the Downing Street Declaration, offering peaceful talks to paramilitary groups if they end their violent actions
August 31: IRA announces a ceasefire
October 13: Loyalist military announces ceasefire
April 10: Good Friday Agreement, aka the Belfast Agreement, setting forth the status and system of government in Northern Ireland, and the relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland and the UKAugust 15: Omagh bombing, the worst single act of violence of the troubles occurs, twenty-nine people are killed by a Real IRA bomb
October 11-13: multi-party talks result in the St. Andrews Agreement, allowing the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly, where members of both political views would serve to govern the country
May 8: a two-party Executive is formed, with Unionist Ian Paisley as First Minister and Sinn Fein member Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister
These works really struck me. They were so much more personal than the numbers and treaty names we'd seen while researching the Troubles. Suddenly, we were faced with the very real, very human emotions of the Troubles. As distressing as this was, I learned a lot from viewing this conflict through the eyes of artists.
I found a short clip of Doherty talking about a variety of his works, which helps explain his creative process, from when he showed his work at The Fruitmarket Gallery. I've included it below to try to give a better feel of what the installation was like.