Sunday, July 15, 2012

From Donegal to Derry and Northern Ireland

I'm sitting at the window of Asdee B and B near Bushmills (yes, the town of the distillery fame) staring out at the western sky as the sun sets over the ocean.  This is a lovely quiet house, a bit off the beaten track, but still very near the Giant's Causeway which we'll visit in the morning (along with the distillery).

We've given Donegal short shrift I'm afraid--it's a lovely part of the world and worth exploring, but we're nearing the end of our journey.  Today we passed through some breathtaking countryside--steep valleys with bare hillsides, rock walls trailing away up to the ridges, and all dotted with sheep.  Along the edges of the road there was lots of peat being cut and dried for next winter's fuel.

We stopped in the town of Adara, billed as the heart of Donegal weaving, and luckily (for a Sunday) there was one weaving shop open at 10:30 AM--all the rest were closed up for the day.  I bought another bag of lovely tweed remnants--maybe there's a patchwork tweed jacket in my future...

On towards Northern Ireland, and the only indication that we'd crossed an international border was a sign stating that the speed limit was now 60 MPH rather than 100 KMH.  And soon we arrived in Derry, also known as Londonderry.  Again, too bad it was Sunday because the museums were either closed or on reduced hours.  We arrived at the Tower Museum just a half hour before closing, and like you I'm going to have to read through the website to see what I missed!  We were only charged a very modest admission (one pound each, and had to put that on Visa because we hadn't found an ATM yet).  We were hoping to get a better understanding of the history and context for "The Troubles", and I suppose we are now a little better informed but still confused!  The Unionists (usually Protestants) tended to have the power and control, while the Nationalists (usually Catholics) were poorer and disenfranchised.  That may be a huge generalization.  Unionists were/are for union with Great Britain as part of United Kingdom, and Nationalists are.were for an independent Ireland, or maybe I should say union with the Republic of Ireland (aka Eire).  The Unionists refer to their city as Londonderry and the Nationalists use the original name of Derry.  We did walk around the entire city wall--it's the only city in Ireland with an intact city wall--and saw some of the murals of the Bogside area, homes of Nationalists.
The neighbourhood of Bogside, a mainly Catholic area, just outside the city walls.

The "Peace Bridge" is lovely, and today it was full of families strolling back and forth across the river.

The western sky is now a soft orange, and it's almost 10 PM Sunday night.  This bodes well for tomorrow's weather--as one of our hosts said to us, "it's about time we had some settled weather" which was an interesting phrase.  I certainly use the term "unsettled" when describing weather but don't think I've ever used the opposite.  We're having fun with the different ways English is spoken!

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