October 13, 2017
Today we experienced past and future, pain and possibility, dreams and darkness.
We began the day at the Mount Stewart House and Gardens, home to the Londonderry family since the mid-18th century. The public portion of the house is full of historic furniture, artifacts, and art, restored to reflect how it would have looked when the aristocratic family lived there in the early 1900’s. The grounds contain formal gardens bursting with beautiful flowers, fanciful topiaries, and exotic plants, which we strolled through in the morning mist.
The afternoon brought us to the Shankill Road and Falls Road, where we learned more about “the Troubles,” as the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland from 1968 to 1998 are called. We visited the Crumlin Road Gaol, opened in 1845 and closed in 1996, which over more than 100 years held men, women, republicans, loyalists, children, and adults. Peering into the small cells, seeing how prisoners would have lived and how some died — 17 men were executed at the prison — was sobering and silencing.
We ended the day by celebrating Mass at St. Malachy’s Church, thankful for the gifts of faith and fellowship.
We are praying for all of you. St. Malachy, pray for us!
(All photos for the Sun by Katherine Long)