Into the north...

Last night we stayed in Westport, on the coast in County Connemara. Today we got on the road early, and we're heading heading east, away from the Atlantic coast. Later today, we'll cross into Northern Ireland.

In County Sligo, we made a quick visit to Drumcliffe, to see the church there, and the grave of Irish poet William Butler Yeats. I loved this Anglican church made from stone, brick, and wood. The pews are set into stalls, with no center aisle. Under each pew was a radiator. That sure would have felt good on all those cold winter mornings in the Anglican church my family attended.

The lay readers' lectern was made from a thick slab of translucent stone.

The Irish high cross, which dates to the 9th century, stands in the graveyard.

Donegal Town is near the coast when you've just about run out of the Republic of Ireland. We were set loose to explore and find lunch... we headed off to find a couple of geocaches first, then talked with some workers by the museum, then I walked up into the grounds of the Anglican church to take photos into Donegal castle (very cool, by the way!). So we rummaged through our packs and found crackers and cheese, salami and cookies, and bottled water, and sat with a new friend in the city square and had a picnic. When Denis arrived with the coach, we left the remaining crackers to the crows, and walked back to join our group.

From Donegal we headed east again, toward Derry. We passed withing a few miles of the border of County Tyrone, the place my dad's side of the family emigrated from in 1710. I tried to take pictures toward County Tyrone, to get a sense of the landscape. Something I could show my sisters.

Probably the most worthwhile stop of the day was in Derry City, where we had a tour with a local guide. Colin lived through the Troubles and the infamous Bloody Sunday of 1972, and was able to give us a local's perspective. He was amazing. Passionate about his history and culture, trying to help us see it through his eyes. I'll never forget this amazing walk through Derry.

The English, who brought English and Scottish settlers to Derry in the early 17th century, built the walls to protect their settlers and keep out the native Irish. The Irish ended up with the less desirable rocky or boggy land (sowing the seeds of the modern-day Troubles). It makes me wonder about my own ancestry, the Irish lad who married a girl with a Scottish name, and emigrated to America in 1710. Were they caught up in the turmoil between native Irish and the Scots who were brought in by the English?

Walking this high wall, almost 20 feet high and at least as thick, was definitely a highlight of our time in Derry. From this vantage point, we could see out over the Catholic Bogside neighborhood itself, the tinderbox of the modern Troubles in Northern Ireland. It was here that the tragic events of Bloody Sunday took place in 1972. 

The wall was lined with cannon, facing both directions (out over The Bogside, and in toward the Guild Hall.

After we said goodbye to our guide, we took a walk through the amazing Guild Hall, with its beautiful stained glass windows.

Tonight we'll stay in Portrush on the northern Irish coast.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos! Such lovely buildings. And to hear about and event in Irish history from someone who lived it must have been fascinating.


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