I remember this stretch well: just behind a person holding a camera to take this shot, somebody had spray-painted, quite largely, the initials KAT, which I figured were the initials of somebody’s name. I started to see that this KAT character got around and was tagging up lots of places. Then one of our guides in Belfast, Damien, schooled us on sectarian graffiti. That KAT means “Kill All Taigs” and that “Taigs” is a derogatory term Protestants use for Catholics gave my morning walks a different tone.
On the street by the Nero is a makeshift and fading memorial, like the roadside memorials we see here where people have died in wrecks, commemorating two (maybe it was three) men killed there longish ago—during the Troubles—by an IRA bomb. A couple days later on a walking tour in Derry our guide Gleann would note that we were standing near where Lyra McKee had been murdered less than a year ago by a New IRA gunman in a flash of sectarian violence.
The public art in the North can be way-to-one-side moving or way-to-the-other-side menacing. A walk down this stretch of road would have a new and better tone and flavor with this mural there. The peace in the North is imperfect as hell, but it’s a grand imperfection. Here’s to it lasting, and spreading.
PHOTO: Screenshot from the Belfast Telegraph announcing a memorial mural for Lyra McKee.