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Selections from Belfast, Northern Ireland

Special thanks to Brian Ashby, Ben Kolak and several extremely helpful Belfast residents.

Belfast, Northern Ireland (2010)

The long weekend of July 10-12, 2010 is particularly important to Northern Ireland because it contains two controversial holidays of religious and political consequence.

The first is Eleventh Night, on which Unionist Protestants ignite massive bonfires throughout the city for historical and very contemporary political reasons. Because Eleventh Night fell on a Sunday in 2010, the bonfires were not lit until midnight, compressing the bonfires and the events that follow them into an unusually tightly-wound day.

As many bonfires still burned, The Twelfth began. On the holiday, members of the Orange Order, composed of Northern Ireland's Unionist Protestant population, march throughout the city to celebrate a historical Protestant victory over Catholics. Most controversially, they march through the city's Republican Catholic neighborhoods in that spirit of victory. As one might expect, the marches are not well received in those neighborhoods, particularly given centuries of conflict and the more recent Troubles. Despite youth football tournaments and other events designed to provide alternatives to engaging the marches, riots continued for nearly a week.

This series focuses on those events of Eleventh Night and The Twelfth, contextualizing them against a backdrop of the physical elements of Belfast that reflect the city's often starkly segregated landscape.

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