The symbolic use of murals in Northern Ireland represents the region’s historic decades-long conflict between British loyalists and Republican nationalists, known as the Troubles. Arguably, the most famous murals central to the Troubles are located in the Northern Irish cities of Belfast — the region’s capital — and Derry. Common forms of mass communication, these murals depict and represent popular Northern Irish figures, political identities and memorials, while at the same time differentiating the various communities of the cities they are located in. Due to a government-funded initiative, the violent subjects of these historic murals are being contentiously reimagined during the peace process.
“Symbols can be the bridge between the past and the future which makes the present tolerable,” renowned Northern Irish mural historian Bill Rolston says. Here, student reporters Mazana Boerboom, Erin Sargent and Morgan Kellar explore the importance of murals in commemorating and documenting Northern Ireland’s historic conflict.