Sunday 28 August 2016
28.08.2016 - 28.08.2016 20 °C
A Day in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland – Donegal, Ireland
Fire alarms in bedrooms – are they a good thing? Yes, they are in case of fire. However, when they start beeping every 30 seconds at 2am they are not very likeable. That was the story of our sleep at Burnfoot. At breakfast, we told our host what had happened. We were not game to remove it so Ross put ear plugs in and I slept on my side with the opposite finger in my ear! The husband was not happy when his wife told him about it and he stormed out to our room. He didn’t speak as Ross spoke to him but the host said to us that he was deaf. Anyway, it was a pity that this happened as it was a lovely place with a beautiful view. Our host offered to reduce our board but that wasn’t going to fix it. She was very lovely.
We left feeling a little ragged around the edges, not really knowing what we were going to do for the day. Geraldine had told us about a fort on top of a hill which we could see from her house - Grianan of Aileach. I wrote down what I thought would be sufficient instructions to find it but needed a little more guidance. Sat Nav was useless. So we put another place into the sat nav. We arrived at this place and it looked quite large. I thought it was a place we had put into the system but Ross realised that it must be Derry. I had had thoughts of visiting here but there was no accommodation and then I thought it was going to be too hard trying to find parking in the day. Well, as it turned out, most of the parking places were shut but it was lucky that we started to head south again and spotted the Information Centre and it was open with a Hop-on bus parked outside. The young girl told me the cost and where it went and she also told me about the Bogside Tour. Now this was the type of tour I had wanted to do in Belfast to get an idea of the history of Ireland’s battles that I saw in the news as a young person. It was just a matter of parking the car.
The instructions were to meet a chap at the Guild Hall, a lovely building near the Peace Bridge. We were able to walk through the Guild Hall and the chap there pointed out a coat of arms for Australia in the coloured glass windows. This Guild Hall has had a torrid life having been burned down, rebuilt, bombed and refurbished in the last decade. There is a beautiful marble statue of Queen Victoria inside and she is missing her hands. Apparently the IRA put a bomb inside the door one day and she was thrown quite some distance. Her husband also looked a bit battered as he experienced the bombing as well.
Finally, we met Paul outside as instructed. He had quite a large group to talk on his walking tour. Initially he took us inside the Guild Hall and he spoke to us as to why he does this tour and the background to the story from his perspective. His motivation for doing these tours is that his father, Patrick Doherty, was killed on Bloody Sunday, Sunday 30 January, 1972. His dad was 31 years old and left a wife and six children behind. As he grew up he saw many things happening and he has fought for a clearer understanding of the events of that day and justice in the courts. He took us to what is referred to as the Bogside and pointed out where the atrocities took place. He also showed us the murals that have been painted to tell the story. He told us that his brother had done five years in jail and someone asked him why he had. He told them that it was shop lifting – lifting houses 20 feet into the air! His mother found the sleeves of his coat cut off when he was seventeen. Apparently they cut these off to use as balaclavas. Anyway he spoke really fast and told many stories and we really had to concentrate to follow what he was saying. It was his side of the story but it seemed very real and helped us understand what all that horror and bloodshed was for on our television sets years ago and their fight for civil rights.
Derry was a walled city. We walked the entire distance around the old town walls, that are still intact, looking at all the eight bastions that still exist. We could also look over Bogside and we located the murals from a higher perspective. With the sun shining brightly, it was ever so pleasant out walking. Ross thought that the jail was across the Peace Bridge so we went across but it was something to do with the navy. The Peace Bridge is certainly a very innovative piece of architecture.
After a scone and tea, we were back on the road on route to Donegal. We had great difficulty locating our accommodation as it would not come up on the sat nav. Cheryl and Bruce stayed here last year so we thought we would try it as well. What a beautiful spot. The male host made us a cup of tea and we had some biscuits before we headed back into town to check out the Donegal Castle. There was a fair happening so the city was extremely busy. After walking around we chose a restaurant. We had local oysters and mussels and they were delicious. We also had Irish stew which was nice too.