Posted on: April 4th 2023

LAE students visit Northern Ireland

In a two day whirlwind trip at the end of the Spring Term LAE students flew to Belfast to gain greater understanding of the turbulent and amazing history of this city and region. 

LAE students were able to tour the Northern Ireland Assembly in the Parliament Buildings at Stormont, visiting the Assembly and Senate Chambers and learning about the periods of operation and suspension since its inception. 

"From the tour of Stormont, which was beautiful,  I gained a much deeper understanding of how the Northern Ireland Parliament works."

Students had the opportunity to visit the Crumlin Road Gaol. The gaol, which first housed prisoners in 1846, was a working prison for over 150 years, before finally closing in 1996.  During those 150 years 'The Crum', as it is known colloquially,  has housed over 25,000 prisoners including murderers, suffragettes and loyalist and republican prisoners and has been the home to seventeen executions, escapes, hunger-strikes and riots. Now an extensively refurbished tourist attraction, the gaol provides a fascinating view of some of the history of Belfast and the Troubles. 

"The walk through the gaol literally sent shivers down my spine- reading about it online and physically being in it are two very different things. I visualised life at the prison, and how conditions as a prisoner changed over time."

The Crum Belfast

Following their prison experience, and despite a downpour of rain, students happily took a walking tour of The Falls and the Shankill Road, stopping at Conor's Corner to view the expressive paintings of Belfast painter William Conor who was famous for his capturing of Belfast Street Scenes. 

Conor's Corner - Belfast March 2023

"Most definitely the best school trip I've been on. I think the part that really stood out to me were the walking tours, it was shocking to see just how present the conflict was in people’s every day lives. The murals on practically every corner showed that very clearly."

At the end of their trip, LAE students visiting Methodist College, Belfast where they had the honour of meeting Member of the Legislative Assembly Kate Nicholls,  who was elected in May 2022 to serve South Belfast.  Students were joined by year 13 student peers from Methody (as the college is affectionately known) and were happy to exchange experiences. 

Altogether this was an educational and invigorating trip which widened students understanding of, and empathy for, the turbulent history of Northern Ireland and brought us hope for true peace in the future.