Beechfield and St. Matthew's are only about 100 yards apart. For the last eight years a brick wall, 12 feet high and 600 feet long, has stood along Bryson Street, separating the schools and the neighborhoods. From the second floor of Beechfield, students can look out the windows, through the coils of barbed wire along the top of the wall, and see students across the street sitting at their desks in their classrooms on the second floor of St. Matthew's.
There are about half a dozen walls around Belfast like the one along Bryson Street. They're called peace lines. The walls are designed to keep Protestants and Catholics from each other, but it is history that keeps them apart. Everyone mourns for a father or son, brother or cousin who was killed in the Troubles. When the children at Beechfield are asked why there is a wall in their neighborhood, they say it's because the Catholics refused to fight for William of Orange in 1690. They think of the wall as being 300 years old, and for them it might as well be. Gareth McCabe, now 12 and one of McKee's students last year, describes his feelings this way: "They're Catholic, we're Protestant. They hate us, we hate them. They kill us, we kill them."