David Best and Helen Marriage
They called it, in understated fashion, "The Troubles".  Right.  3,600 people died.  Catholics killed Protestants, Protestants killed Catholics, fighting battles that went back to at least 1688 (remember "King Billy" in Yeats's "Lapis Lazuli"?).

LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland — The Rev. David Latimer thought it was a terrible idea. The streets of this Northern Irish city had burned in the Troubles. His Protestant church was firebombed by Catholics. Every summer, rival bonfires the size of small mountains still burn, and with them the flags and effigies of the other side.
Burning a 75-foot-tall pagan temple in a Republican Catholic enclave on the loyalist Protestant side of town to “bring people together” seemed, well, mad.
“How are you going to get my congregation to come to a Catholic area?” he asked the California artist who started erecting the temple this month. “How is fire going to have a productive outcome in a city where fire has always been about hating the other?”
“It worked in other parts of the world,” said the artist, David Best, whose temples usually burn in the Nevada desert at the Burning Man festival.
Mr. Latimer, a former British Army chaplain accustomed to checking for bombs under his car, was unimpressed. “This part of the world,” he said, “is not like other parts of the world.”

Although, sad to say, there are parts of the world suffering from such sectarian strife.

“Of course, we knew it would be controversial,” said Helen Marriage, founder of Artichoke, the British art events company that brought Mr. Best to Londonderry.

            “We wanted to turn the logic of bonfires on its head,” she said. “We wanted to bring people into the same physical space and share something that would normally divide them.”

But who would build this 75-foot tower?

Mr. Best’s mostly American temple crew helped train 57 youths, from Protestant and Catholic communities, in 3D design and carpentry to assist with building it. In their late teens and early 20s, some of them came from a shelter, others had a history of drug abuse or petty crime and all were drifting. Londonderry has one of the youngest populations in Western Europe, and one of the highest jobless rates in Northern Ireland.

Oh, sure.  Use criminals and drug addicts.  That'll work.

“These kids will never show up at 8 in the morning,” the social worker at the shelter had predicted. But they did. 

Okay, so they showed up.  But would the local people, the Catholics and Protestants who had built up so much anger and hatred during "The Troubles"?

As it turned out, the very first person inside the temple was Jeanette Warke, the 71-year-old manager of a loyalist youth club, who had lost her home in the Troubles and whose son joined the British Army when he was 18.
Kevin Strathern, a local architect who had helped build the temple, saw her wandering in, a “wee old lady” who soon burst into tears.
“Would you like a hug?” he asked.
“I most certainly would,” she said.
Mr. Strathern’s father, William, a well-known Gaelic football player, was shot dead on his own doorstep in 1977. Mr. Strathern, 8 at the time, was upstairs in bed with a toothache. “And here I was,” said Mr. Strathern, now 46, “a Catholic whose father was killed by Protestants, purely because he was a Catholic, hugging a Protestant.”
“We wouldn’t have hugged 40 years ago,” he added. “We might not have hugged 10 years ago.”

Okay, so two people.

By the end of last week more than 60,000 people in this city of 108,000 had come to the temple and left their messages. “For a united Derry,” pleaded one. “For the sake of our children,” read another.  There were grainy photographs, a ponytail of human hair, a knitted baby hat and at least two vessels with ashes of loved ones. A postcard quoting the poet Seamus Heaney, raised nearby, wished for life “on the far side of revenge.”
All we're saying is, give Peace a chance.

P.S.  You can watch it burn, here.