View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Welcome to Northern Ireland, country number 60 for us!

First thing, let's clarify the country count. Yes, we do count Northern Ireland as a separate country even though it is part of the UK. Some people do, some people don't. For our purposes, if we are going to count England, Scotland, and Wales as individual countries, then we have to count Northern Ireland as well.

Besides which, Northern Ireland has its own currency. Yes, it's the pound sterling, but it is different banknotes compared to the English pound. And it's issued by Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland. It is also not legal tender in the rest of UK... however it is legal currency and easily exchanged at any English bank! 

Second thing, a little history lesson for context in relation to yesterday's travels.

Our trip here in Ireland wasn't just about the beautiful scenery. We wanted to learn more about the conflict between north and south and Protestant and Catholic. It's a bit of a complicated situation, which remains unresolved today. There's obviously a lot to it, but let me try and simplify it for you.

The conflict in Ireland dates back to the Plantation of Ulster in the early 1600's. It was an organized British colonization of the northeastern part of the island of Ireland. Protestants from Scotland and northern England caused a divide in the population of the area. Something that continues today.

But the conflict is not really about religion, even though you'll often hear the terms Protestant and Catholic on opposite sides. Catholics predominantly consider themselves Irish and hold nationalist views... they want an independent Ireland free from British control. Protestants identify largely as British and unionist, meaning they wish to remain linked to the United Kingdom. 

So, yesterday we crossed the border into Northern Ireland and visited the city of Derry/Londonderry. Irish nationalists will generally call the city Derry, while its official name and what the Unionists call it is Londonderry.

More rain as we made our way towards Northern Ireland.

Another gorgeous area that we could have spent more time in.

Scenery along the way.

Crossing the "border"!

There is no physical border. Only a sign that used to say Welcome to Northern Ireland, but someone (obviously a nationalist) has blacked out the "Northern" part of the sign. And, once you have crossed the border, the speed limit is in mph instead of km/h. And, you have to use British pound money instead of Euros.

We found ourselves a suitable parking spot where we could also overnight, and set off for a walk into town.

The Peace Bridge, a pedestrian bridge built in 2011.

It is called the peace bridge because it was thought to help improve relationships of a once very divided community. The largely Unionist 'Waterside' and the largely Nationalist 'City Side' and the bridge joins the two side together over the river.

We actually started to get a little bit of blue sky!

The Guildhall.

At first, I thought this was a church, but it's more like city hall.

Free to enter, and it's worth seeing.

A piece of furniture dated 1603.

There's a display that shows the history of the Plantation of Ulster.

The building has lots of stained glass windows.

And a big hall with a beautiful organ.

The lights on it change color regularly.

We wandered around on top of the old city wall.

The Derry Girls.

This one is of the Derry Girls... a popular sitcom television show here. Much of it was filmed in Derry. We watched the first three episodes last night... it's quite funny!

Downtown Derry.

The remains of a protest site.
The sign says "Londonderry West Bank Loyalists Still Under Siege. Never Surrender."

The inside was closed.

The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall.

Derry.

St. Columba's Church.

They have been saying mass here continuously since August 564!

From there, we continued down to the area where Bloody Sunday took place.

On January 30th, 1972 about 15,000 Derry residents took part in a peaceful protest march. The march had been banned by the British government and a British military unit was sent in to prevent the march from completing its route. 14 innocent civilians were killed, 8 of them under the age of 20.

The whole area has been turned into a memorial about what happened that day.

There are political reminders everywhere.


More have died from hunger strikes.






Obviously there was outrage when this event happened. They forced a public inquiry which made the public even angrier when it exonerated the British military despite having never interviewed the hundreds of eye witnesses. This forced another inquiry that started in 1998. They interviewed 900 witnesses over a 7 year period. It was the biggest investigation in British legal history. When the reports findings were made public in 2010, it was the exact opposite of the original inquiry. This time, it found that the British paratroopers had lost control that day.

Legal proceedings continue, even though it has been fifty years since the event took place.

Sad stuff.







The Bloody Sunday monument.

The people of Derry have not forgotten this day, and likely never will.

The day before we arrived, we watched the 2002 documentary movie "Bloody Sunday". It gave us some good background so we could further understand what this was all about.



Today, we move on to something a little less depressing... the fantastic scenery at Giant's Causeway.

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Five days until Amazon Prime Day.

And in Canada...

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the history lesson. I knew the conflict was ongoing but didn't expect so many visual reminders.

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    Replies
    1. It was a good history lesson for us too! We thought what they have done in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry where Blood Sunday took place is a good reminder to everyone and that they have done it well. They even have free local guides that can show you around and tell you even more about the history at certain times in the day.

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