Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Free Derry

flickr photo link: <Derry photos>
It was cold when we arrived in Derry (aka Londonderry) on Easter Sunday. The late afternoon streets had been abandoned to the lager louts and the shutters were well and truly down. So we wandered along the 9 metre thick old city walls, looking down on the divided areas and murals from a distance. I should have worn 2 coats. It was grey and foreboding, and we returned along the grim Strand Road to our B&B (The Saddler’s House, £50/nt) which was quite nice. After a quick change we had dinner at an American style restaurant just down the street that did some great main courses but the desserts were a let down. We do give extra points to the young barman for mixing 2 Pina Colada's, and send this appeal to his management to buy him a new blender. Come on, they don't cost much!
The following morning Clare & Joe did a walking tour of The Bogside with a local guide (just the 3 of us!) Foreign tourists were out snapping pictures of the murals as we listened to the stories of the Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday, from our guide's point of view. Perhaps we saw it in the wrong light, but Derry just seemed so far removed from the tourist brochures advertising art, culture & shopping (which are generally true of Belfast now). The entire history of this city is troubled and it felt like the 'troubles' just finished yesterday. It turned out we weren't far off the mark. We'd seen some posters around for a march at the local cemetery starting at 2.30pm in celebration (?) of the Easter 1916 uprising. We didn't go along, which was a good thing, as according to news reports, a riot kicked off at 3pm with police frisking kids, collecting 41 molotov cocktails, etc. Who they were rioting against and why? Who knows.
We left Derry towards the Giants Causeway with mixed feelings, hoping that one day this place may find some true peace.

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