|Hostel||Hostel Connect||Hostel World||Derry||$210.00||2 nights. $105/night. Incl breakfast.|
"Ooooooh, Derry is a walled city," I said. "I like walled cities," I said. "Let's go spend a day in Derry and have a look around. It will be neat!" I said. I had no idea that Derry was so pivotal in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement, and I had no idea of everything that went on here. Today, I was enlightened. We went on the Martin McCrossan walking tour, which took us around the 1.5km of city walls and discovered the walls and some history of Derry. Then, we went to the Free Derry Museum, and went on on their walking tour of Bogside.
The part of Derry on the west side of the Foyle is called the City Side. It is mostly Catholic. The part on the east side is called Waterside and it is about 50/50 Catholic and Protestant. There is one tiny neighborhood, called Fountain Estate, on the City Side, which is Protestant. It is surrounded by a fence, and residents feel that they are still under seige. Aside from that, the city seems to have moved on rather well from everything its been through, and Bogside, aside from all the murals and monuments, is just a normal neighborhood now, rather than the site of "recreational rioting", and Bloody Sunday.
There were some things going on in Northern Ireland in the late 60's and early 70's that most people, even citizens of the UK outside of Northern Ireland, didn't know about. Two of the things that contributed to the "troubles" were the lack of a "one man one vote" system, and the internment practices. Of course, in the UK, they have a "one man one vote" system, so people assumed it was the same in Northern Ireland, but it wasn't. Instead, voting was restricted to property owners. A property owner could have a maximum of six votes. The wealthy, who owned multiple properties (mainly Protestant) could vote up to six times. In the Catholic population, it was common to have multi-generational homes, and/or multi-family homes, with several adults in them, but only one person - the property owner - could vote. The march which became Bloody Sunday was a peaceful protest against internment. Soldiers fired on, and killed, several unarmed people, but then claimed that they were carrying guns and/or bombs when they were shot. The first inquiry into the incident blamed the victims for it. A second inquiry, the Saville report, was released in 2010. The report found that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were both "unjustified and unjustifiable." Today, Brent and I walked Bogside, and stood in the places of Bloody Sunday, including the two "bottlenecks" where fleeing people were shot. It was really powerful. Our host at the Free Derry museum's younger brother was killed in Bloody Sunday. Our Free Derry walking tour guide had spent time as a political prisoner.
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.
|From Brent: Derry was good. We walked the city walls and learned some of the history of the place. In some ways it was a bit scary because the history here is very recent history. I remember watching the riots on the news and seeing the tanks in the streets. Everything seems quite calm and civil now except for a neighbourhood of about 200 houses called The Fountain. They have the remains of a "peace fence" around the area and a monument that proclams 'After 300 years of siege, Still No Surrender.' I wonder if anybody told them that their side won 300 years ago. The city they live in is what victory looks like.|