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We spent two days in this fascinating city that has seen so much violence throughout its history. Even the name has been controversial. During "The Troubles" which started in the late 1960's, the Unionists who were generally Protestants, called it Londonderry while the Catholics called it Derry. Today the official name is Londonderry but the common name that almost everyone uses is Derry.

Barb and Fred on WallYou can't visit Derry without learning something about the history of the area and listening to various opinions about "The Troubles" of the 60's and 70's. Without going into a great deal of detail here, it really started over 800 years ago when the British decided to take control of the island. Since then, there have been numerous attempts by the Irish to eject the British, and many attempts by the British to make the island and the Irish more British. Tactics included outlawing the Gaelic language, banning the practice of Catholicism, barring Catholics from owning land and relocating British and Scots to Ireland and giving them land once owned by the Catholics.Cannon on Derry Wall In the 1600's, the British built a wall around the city to protect the Protestants from the invading Catholics led by William III. That wall still exists and separates the primarily Protestant inner city from the Catholic Bogside area. Army Guard TowerIt was once again the scene of violence during the Troubles, with the British army occupying Tower stations along the wall in an attempt to keep the peace.

The Troubles in 1969 actually began as a civil problem. The law said only landowners could vote. Since landowners were primarily Protestant, the protesters were mainly Catholics. Their demonstrations and marches were squelched forcefully by the police force. And the war became a religious war. It also led to the rise of more violent paramilitary Nationalist groups like the Irish Republican Army and decades of fighting and violence. Fortunately, in 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was signed dismantling the claims of both Ireland and Britain to the North and giving the people in Northern Ireland the right to take charge of their own destiny. It's been a struggle since then but today there is a tenuous peace as they continue to work out the terms of the peace process. Derry Street and MuralMeanwhile there are reminders everywhere of the troubles. Huge murals on the side of buildings in Bogside depict those killed or jailed during protests. Sections of barbed wire can still be found along the wall. And of course the army towers can be seen throught the city though most of the army has left.

On a positive note, there is more integration of Protestant and Catholic children in the school system with the hope that as the young grow up there will be more tolerance and respect for each other.Hands of Friendship Statues A beautiful sculpture on a hill in the center of the city shows the hands of friendship reaching across the religious divide, a hopeful sign for the future of Derry and the rest of Northern Ireland.


Just north of Londonderry is the Inishowen Penninsula. We took an optional bus tour of the area and despite a few clouds at first, the day turned out to be sunny for the spectacular views along the coast.

Ancient Circle Stone FortOur first stop was at an ancient circle stone fort from the 6th century called Guianan Aileach. From the top of the fort we had a view of 4 counties, Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly (Lough means Lake in Gaelic).Walking the fort Walls





Lough SwillyFrom there the bus navigated a narrow country road out to Malin Head - the northern most point in Ireland. View from Malin HeadThe heather was still blooming on the hillsides and we could see farmlands rolling down to the Atlantic ocean. There was even an old thatched roof cottage to complete the patoral setting, something of a rarity in Ireland today.

Sod House - Inishowen PenninsulaMany more pictures of Londonderry and the Inishowan Penninsula can be found in the Photo Gallery.


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