You’d call it Londonderry if you’re a Prod, Derry if you’re Catholic and if you just want everyone to be bipartisanly happy, you’d call it Stroke City – Derry/Londonderry was where we were headed Friday night. We’d seen on the news that there’d been two explosions go off the day before, which made us realize that peace is a relative term in this city that will forever be identified with “The Troubles.” Apparently these bombs are not an unusual event, and nowadays, the perpetrators phone in before they set them off, so everyone can evacuate. Categorized as a nuisance more than anything else, I guess.
Like every other city in Ireland, or so it seems, Derry has a river – this one the River Foyle, with hills rising up from its banks – the smaller Londonderry on one side and Derry on the other, with the ever hopeful Peace Bridge spanning the two.
We only had enough time for a night and day, with our night spent at a terrific hostel called the Fairman House in the north end. Our hostess was bend-over backwards gracious and helpful – we felt quite pampered.
With only the one day to spend in town, we had time for only the highlights – a walk along the Bogside to take in the murals on the building walls depicting Free Derry and the Bloody Sunday Memorial …
… then a short walk over to and along the 17th-century walls that enclose many of the city’s attractions. There are four gates into the “walled” city – simply pick one and climb up the steps to the top and it’s about a mile around. Views of the city abound, with all its churches, towers and river. The walls themselves were key to the protection of the city in the 1600s and the cannons along the Grand Parade are the real deal.
Within the walls there is a blend of old and new – the most delightful being a little craft village, complete with bookstore, wool shop and quaint tea shop called The Boston Tea Party.
By midafternoon, we were back in the car, headed for Donegal for afternoon tea at the delightful Krusty Kitchen and a stroll around this quaint little town on the west coast before turning south to Sligo for the weekend. Gorgeous scenery the whole way.