Today we took the drive to Derry, one of the cities at the forefront of the Troubles. It also has a well-preserved wall around its city center which is hundreds of years old and can be walked along. In this city we encountered the worst sandwiches and coffee of our trip, but then walked next door to a cafe with outstanding food and coffee. By the way, the place with the outstanding food is the cafe (not the restaurant) in “Austins.” Austins is a department store, the longest continuously-running department store in the world, ca. 1830. The worst food was at the Sandwich Co., or something like that.
But Derry is known for far more important events. Actually, the name may not actually be Derry, it may be Londonderry as King James I renamed it in 1613. Let me quote the Wikipedia article:
Note that the name of the city is a point of political dispute, with unionists advocating the longer name, and nationalists advocating the shorter. A common attempt at compromise is to refer to the county as “Londonderry” and the city as “Derry”, but this is by no means universally accepted. Because of this, a peculiar situation arises as there is no common consensus either in politics or elsewhere as to which name is preferred; the city council is officially known as “Derry”, but the city is officially recognised as “Londonderry” by the Northern Ireland Executive and the UK government. Whilst road signs in the Republic of Ireland use “Derry”, alongside the Irish language translation “Doire”, road signs in Northern Ireland will always read (unless vandalised) “Londonderry”.
This city is also infamous for the day known as Bloody Sunday. We were able to read about it, stand in the area where the deaths took place, and see some of the historical remnants of the Troubles.
The city seemed to be divided as in Belfast, with Unionists on the east side of the city center and Nationalists on the west side (or “bogside”).
Just on the other side of the wall:
Technically, we are staying in the Sperrin Mountains, I think. But the mountains proper are located just to the south and we decided to return home from Londonderry via the mountains. It rained for most of the drive, but the car afforded us the time and ability to take the officially labeled Sperrin scenic routes. They were some beautiful drives and I hope these photos convey some of that:
Tomorrow’s blog entry: the southeast of Northern Ireland