The site of the shootings on Bloody Sunday.
I am officially in the UK now. Iâ€™m in Derry, a city in Northern Ireland that is right on the border with the Republic of Ireland. After checking into my hostel, I had to get new currency (I now have three currencies on me). I thought the exchange rate with the Euro was bad, but the pound is even worse. While my hostel is ONLY 11 pounds a night, thatâ€™s really 22 US dollars. Not so good.
Derry is a walled city, about a mile all around, and it is the only remaining walled city in Ireland.
You can walk the entire circle. Today I chose to check out the Museum of Free Derry,
which just opened four months ago and chronicles the Civil Rights
Movement here leading up to Bloody Sunday on January 30, 1972, in which
14 unarmed individuals were killed by British troops, many shot in
the back. The museum contains pictures
and audio from the Battle of Bogside, to the internments, and
eventually the 15,000 person march in protest and Bloody Sunday.
Bloody Sunday monument.
The gentleman who welcomed and introduced me to the exhibit was the brother of one of the victims. My hair stood on end when he told me this, and I had to hold back tears many times throughout the exhibit. I wondered how he could stand to be there, but he reiterated that the museum was about educating and remembering.
The museum itself stands on the site of where the massacre occurred. Standing outside was eery as everyone was busy about their day, sweeping, walking and doing other household chores. I suppose you must move on. A monument sits nearby so that no one will forget and many murals in the area depict the struggles.
Mural depicting Bloody Sunday - notice the Father raising a white flag.
It is amazing that the events around Bloody Sunday are still unsettled. The initial inquiry came back that the British did no wrong. However, a second inquiry was called and lasted from 1998 until 2004, including 921 witnesses. A report is due out next year.
was an unplanned stop on the way to Belfast/Giants Causeway.
is very pretty, sits on a river and has many places to explore.
I'm glad I made it and will explore some more of its history tomorrow.
night I headed out in search of groceries and spotted a group of
obvious travelers (large group of about 20) heading down the street
from my hostel. I decided to follow them to see where they were
going. It turned out they were meeting up for a guided walking
tour of the city, which I had thought about doing earlier in the day
but didn't due to the cost. Well, I just slid in there with
them. We walked around the wall and over to the Free Derry area
where I was earlier. Our guide talked about the struggles between
the Catholics and the Protestants , even showing us the different
neighborhoods they lived in and an existing wall that divided
them. He also talked about how the name of the town to this day
is contested - Derry or Londonderry, depends on where you side.
To avoid conflicts, they call the bus that heads here from Belfast the
Maiden so as not to offend anyone. However, the guide indicated
that due to the recent peace process, this city has seen the most calm
that he's seen in his lifetime, and he is about 55 I would say. I
had read some about this before I came. Apparently the two men in
peace talks are the same two men that were around 25 years ago.
He expressed frustration at their unwillingness to sit down back then
and how it would have prevented a lot of the sadness and death
here. I'd say I'm lucky to be here at this time. In fact,
one mural he pointed out depicted a girl who had been gunned down on
the street. Originally it had a black gun and black butterfly on
it, but it was changed a few weeks ago, showing a broken orange gun and
colored butterfly, reflecting the recent peace process.
Free Derry - a former "no go" zone.
It was a great tour, very informative. I truly lucked out with
the timing of leaving my hostel for sure. I was chatting with the
guide and even he thought I was quite smart to join in ;)