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Elvira Bonafacio

2018-12-03 13:25 — Belfast, Ireland

Artistic literary expression 1

A letter, a story, a painting, a song or a dance, are just a few ways people use to express themselves and share their thoughts, feelings, necessities etc. These expressions are just methods to share and communicate, but they may vary per culture. Same applies to Northern Ireland. This summary serves to illustrate the forms of expression and communication that stood out during this project.


Living Library

Living library is an activity that was part of the Good Relations Week. This activity allows several ethnic groups to share and reflect in a neutral environment. This activity was organized in such a way that each participant had 20 minutes to share a table with a human book. The author of the book is, in this case, the living book. Based on the request of the participants, the authors read parts of their story, shared key parts of their history and where they get their inspiration from and so on. This part of the activity was so interesting and enriching, that the authors did not have sufficient time to answer all the questions regarding the history and/or about themselves. This activity made reading something pleasurable and interesting even for the ones who do not like reading. The participating books contained eye-opening and heart touching histories that are briefly explained below.

A father shares his experiences after losing his wife and daughter, in an intentional bombing that took the lives of both. This father uses his story to bring awareness on the negative effect that fights and/or attacks (like the confrontations in the seventies and eighties) can have on the lives of loved ones of both sides. He also uses his experience to make others aware of the importance of forgiveness, which is important to live at peace with each other

A nun chooses to abandon her life in a monastery and joins a convent in Belfast to do pastoral work, where religion is the reason for sectarianism. Her choice required some preparations that gave her the necessary knowledge to contribute to the teenage kids that are in need of support and guidance.

The wife of a Republican politician has chosen to show her support of the Irish identity by following Irish language courses. This was the cause of a lot of consternation, but this revolutionary act did not end here. This lady, Linda Ervine, started teaching Irish language courses in an area in Belfast, which is known as a Republican/Protestant one. Her fight was interesting, especially taking into consideration all the personal attacks against her, but her determination and the support of her husband, who stood by her through it all, resulted in one of the largest institutions that provide Irish language courses and other cultural activities.

An Asian immigrant, who has worked as a social worker for many years, has joined a political party. She has become the first (Asian) immigrant to be part of the Irish parliament. People were resistant, but thank God there were no alarming incidents. Fortunately, she could always count on the support of the police force, who were always there to support her whenever needed. Anna Lo, a fervent fighter against racism and sects, was one of the living books who had an interesting story to tell.


An eighteen-year-old teen abandoned her country and family to escape the war and puts her fate in the hands of a stranger, who promised her to help her improve her life. Adapting to a new country was not easy, but the whole ordeal was an ultimate risky decision. However, the outcome was a positive one. Determination and perseverance also played an important role in this achievement.



Murals are another popular form of expression in Northern Ireland. Murals are a set of paintings from different artists on a wall located on a (busy) street for the public to see. These paintings represent and/or reflect part of the Northern Ireland history, but they are also methods used to express feelings and thoughts. According to one of the members of a group that used to fight for equality among the Irish people, creating murals was there only way to communicate with the public for many years. They didn’t have access to any type of media, so their only way to communicate their thoughts and feelings was through murals. It is remarkable that each mural reflects an achievement related to a war or fight for equality.

Irish Music

It has caught my attention is that the lyrics of the Irish songs, tell their history. Experiences related to their fights and love are the themes that stand out the most in the songs, both in Irish as in English. Remarkable is, that when Irish people refer to a concert where traditional music is played, they refer to a concert where people go to listen to the music and sing along while maintaining the compass by stumping their feet. According to my observations, talking during one of these concerts is not appreciated by the public and people only dance when a certain level of alcohol has been reached. Musicians regularly meet up in Irish pubs to entertain and delight the public with their traditional music that covers the themes as mentioned above.