On the second day, we headed to Derry/Londonderry (depending on which side you are on, you call it a different name). We were given a walking tour of this city as well, and I really liked it! The peace lines weren’t as aesthetically imposing here–it was basically just a giant stone wall.
This is a view of one half of the city from up on the wall. As you can see, there is a cannon sticking out of the wall, although it hasn’t been used in hundreds of years.
After walking up and down the wall, we headed to the Museum of Free Derry which contained historical artifacts from the troubles in Derry. One of the bigger happenings in Derry was Bloody Sunday, which we had the privilege of learning about first hand because the owner of the museum had lost his brother that day and therefore was very knowledgeable on the subject. He also brought in a community member who was shot, but made it out alive which showed us just how real the tragedy was. A quick synopsis: On Bloody Sunday, there was a Nationalist protest and the British military was standing by in case violence broke out. Then, completely unprovoked, the military started firing into the crowd of unarmed civilians killing 14 people and injuring 14 others. The victims were just recently cleared of any charges of wrongdoing in 2010, and an investigation has just begun surrounding the military officers who did the shooting.
This is probably the most famous mural in Derry (and as you can see by the Irish flag, it is most definitely on the Nationalist side of the wall). Also if you look very closely, you can see the dividing wall on the hill in the background.
After a day of history lessons and sad stories, we went to have lunch and do a little shopping. We then began the 2 hour journey back to Belfast. We were given a few hours of free time in Belfast before dinner, so a few friends and I decided to use this time to explore the city!
The downtown shopping area was massive and pretty lively. My favorite part was the semi-outdoor mall in Victoria Square which had…
A GIANT CHRISTMAS TREE!!!! (and it was only November 8th!)
After our adventure, it was time for another 3 course meal! And we were all so tired from two days of lecturing and walking that we weren’t able to stay awake for long after dinner. The next day, we got up early to make one last stop before heading home to Dublin. We went to Carrickfergus castle where we got a guided tour and learned all about castle life over the years that it was in use.
This is the middle courtyard of the castle from up on one of the walls.
And we had to get a group shot with the cannons.
Despite the cold/rainy weather (I forgot we were traveling North) and the heavy subject matter, I had a great trip! It was awesome to see first hand everything we had been discussing in class. The vocab lesson that I received during this trip, is that everyone is a “lad”–much like how in the US people say “guys” to mean anyone regardless of gender. I was always under the impression that it was lads and lasses, but after being called a lad and being mistakenly offended, I learned my lesson!