All Photos © Joakim Lloyd Raboff

Belfast. As a child/teen growing up in Los Angeles, there was no shortage of friends and neighbors of Catholic-Irish decent. My best buddy as a student at Saint Victor’s Catholic School (on Holloway Drive in West Hollywood), was Nile Lynch.

Through Nile and his seven or eight older siblings, I learned a thing or two about what it meant to be from Ireland; the complexity, dualism, and frustration from 30 years of “The Troubles” (Irish: Na Trioblóidí) on the green island.

When I finally got a chance to visit Belfast a few years ago, about a decade after the peace accord, I was overwhelmed by local folks’ hospitality and willingness to talk about the city’s bright future, historic past, and less about the in-between years. It’s complicated, I get that.
I knew about the wall that separates the two political-religious ideologies. But I was still blown away by how imposingly tall it was in reality. Like all borders, its existence is a testament to failure at coexistence.