2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

Purple Heather

Ferrygate entrance to Derry

On top of the wall

Never Surrender

View of Bogstown from the wall

One of many cannons on the wall

One of the famous murals in Derry

Derry sentiment

Memorial to the murdered peacemarchers at the Easter Massacre

The efigy of Lundy the Traitor

Meeting Room

So this morning as we leave Donegal, we leave the Republic Of Ireland for Derry as the Irish call it Or Londonderry as the Unionists know it. It is a short drive through some lovely purple heather hills deep in the morning mist and drizzle. For the last few days as we have been driving through western Ireland we have been noticing frequently large stacks of fresh cut peat in many yards and farms. These are, we believe, the equivalent of our winter stacks of firewood. How they dry for burning, how long it takes to dry and how long they burn remains unknown to us. But as today is the first day of autumn and it is cool we can smell that sentimental allure of homefires in the air.

A modern (meaning wide with shoulders) highway lead us to Derry and if it wasn't for the speed signs on the road reading miles per hour and petrol stations stating fuel rates in pounds sterling, any hint we had left Ireland was not noticed. So back in the UK but really still in Ireland, Northern Ireland to the Unionists, Ulster to the Republicans

the lines of history that have so longed divided this area are still noticeable.

In England, in Wales and in Ireland we long since lost count of castles, cathedrals and churchs. They are everywhere, beautiful and remarkable. Some so well maintained and preserved, many others but ruins or shells of their once glory. We soon adopted that old travellers sop: ABC: another bloody church, castle, cathedral. Far too many, we only have visited the most historical and famous. It seems in Ireland that King John of Magna Carta fame built most of these Norman castles in his subjugation of the native Irish.

Derry is a remarkable city, its history lived daily. I thought Chester to be a magnificent walled city (and it surely is) but Derry is even more stunning. The oldest still standing walled city in Europe, Derry is known as the Maiden City for it's walls

have never been breached. And it's walls and it's gates are truly a marvel. The top of the walls at places are as wide as Lynn Valley Road at home, with cannon placed in the bastions at all directions onto the city outside the walls. From the famous seige of King James II, the Protestants defended Londerderry and since have marched in celebration

every year and I suspect to rub salt in the wounds of the unsuccesful Catholic attackers'

descendants. All part of the Troubles of the 60s and 70s & 80s. We visited the Bloody Sunday Memorial in the area below the walls known as the Bogside which the band U2 immortalized so well in it's classic song Sunday Bloody Sunday. I will not go on about Derry's rich deep history other to say that it is captivating and so interesting. The three of us took a double decker bus tour about the city to get that overview and a basis of the history. But the simmering trouble is still quite apparent. Graffiti on the walls and rowhouses states that fact very obviouly.

Like Dublin we could spend weeks here exploring and discovering. Our hotel has a big gorgeous Irish pub in it where we had both lunch and dinner. Again with the huge Irish portions, so of course huge Irish patrons like ourselves are common. Irish hotels have a most curious feature. To active all hotel room appliances, including lighting and TV the room key must be inserted in an activation slot just inside the door. And don't get me going about the TV remotes. The remotes have more buttons than a North Korean general's greatcoat and I swear some of them could land the Enterprise on Neptune. But turn on the TV? Call the front desk. Tomorrow it's on to the Giant's Causeway and then to Belfast, our last night on the Emerald Isle. And it is indeed emerald, in many shades.

It has been a long walking day, it is late again. I got a few Guinness in me, so it is goodnight from Steve & Joan & Patricia.

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