Northwest Northern Ireland – Derry and the Sperrin Mountains

sperrin mountains northern ireland

on a private road in the Sperrin Mountains

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.

Londonderry Derry mural Bloody Sunday

Mural of the fourteen killed on Bloody Sunday

Londonderry Derry memorial Bloody Sunday

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”).

Londonderry Derry Loyalist Unionist

notice the curbs painted the British colors, the flag, and the mural

Just on the other side of the wall:

Nationalist Republican bogside londonderry derry

the Republican side (notice the flags)

Londonderry Derry Nationalist Republican Bogside

Nationalist Republican bogside londonderry derry mural

Nationalist Republican bogside londonderry free derry wall

One of the most famous images in the world

Back to the wall, used for defense in the 1600s:londonderry derry wall

londonderry derry 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:sperrin mountains northern ireland

sperrin mountains northern ireland

an actual (two-way) road along the scenic route

sperrin mountains northern irelandWe stopped at a grocery store along the way back, and it happened to have an alcohol license, so I picked these up for the next few days!

Tomorrow’s blog entry: the southeast of Northern Ireland


2 thoughts on “Northwest Northern Ireland – Derry and the Sperrin Mountains

  1. I’ve heard of Derry AND Londonderry, as in “Londonderry Air”, which I believe is a song that I had to play in middle school band or something. Now bloody Sunday I’ve heard of– thanks Bono! A much better musical reference.
    What a stark contrast between the 2 sides of the city.
    mmm, is ginger beer good? I would try it. I have tried Guinness, but never in a can. That cider looks delicious. Harp’s pretty good, from what I remember. But the one I tried had a green label- perhaps the American import is different.

  2. The ginger beer was really good! better than the cider, and I didn’t really like Harp.. it tasted kind of unique, but didn’t love it.

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