Posts From Northern Ireland


Whats in a name ((London)Derry, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Sunday 8th Nov, 2015 (day 657, miles 18684)

This leg of the trip gave us our first taste of the Irish troubles, the struggle between catholics/Republicans/Nationalists on the one hand and protestants/Loyalists/UK on the other for control of the Northern part of the island . Our route from Westport took us out of the Republic of Ireland and into Northern Ireland. The "oneness" of these two "countries" is demonstrated by the fact that there are no border formalities of any kind, and indeed the only way of telling that we had moved from one to the other was by carefully observing the name (on the road signs) of our destination city. In the Republic it is called Derry, whereas in the north it is officially called Londonderry (and you had better not get it mixed up). We would discover that this is a somewhat superficial manifestation of what to us, as outsiders, seems like a real divide.

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A history lesson ((London)Derry, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Monday 9th Nov, 2015 (day 658, miles 18684)

We took a guided walking tour of the city this morning in order to try and get our head around the history of this town, and a lot of history there is too. Initially catholic, protestant settlers arrived in Derry in the late 1500s on a missionary quest and were responsible for building the walls of the city. The city was besieged for 105 days in 1688 by the forces of James II who was looking to establish a base in Ireland to retake his English thrown. However the siege was broken by the protestants. There after Cromwell scourged Ireland in punishment for the Catholic support of James II. These events seem to have pretty much cemented English (perhaps uneasy) rule over Ireland for the coming centuries. In the 20th century Derry was one of the focus points of the catholic struggles against English rule and we heard about the events of Bloody Sunday and visited the famous murals on buildings in the area known as the Bogside. Interestingly the name "Bogside" comes simply from the fact that originally the city was almost an island with water on 3 sides and a marsh or bog on the 4th. That 4th side was eventually reclaimed and is now - you guessed it - the area called the Bogside.

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Haute cuisine (Portrush, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 10th Nov, 2015 (day 659, miles 18684)

A short drive today to the town of Portrush, a small windswept town on the north coast of Ireland. We would discover over the next couple of days that the place is a very busy summer resort town and is close to the famous Giants Causeway.But thats for tomorrow.

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Giant's causeway (Portrush, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 11th Nov, 2015 (day 660, miles 18684)

In spite of the poor weather we were out today to tour the most famous of local attractions. The Giants Causeway. The site is managed by the National Trust, has a very elaborate new building for a visitors center with everything from tickets to buses precisely choreographed in true British style. The rain precluded any good photos (but that did not stop Nina trying) but we had an interesting tour of the site and, like others, marveled at the basalt columns that make up the causeway itself and adorn the local cliffs. We got well and truly wet during our walk.

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Belfast, and a belated catchup on this blog (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Sunday 15th Nov, 2015 (day 875, miles 18684)

After our wet visit to the Giant's Causeway and Portrush we went on to Belfast for a three day stay. The weather did not improve with both the drive to, and the stay in, Belfast being marked by wet and cold. The highlights of Belfast would have to be the two Museums (or is it one) we saw on our first (arrival) day, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. These are situated across the road from each other on the eastern side of the city.

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