Thursday, June 25, 2009

From Bantry Bay to Derry Quay, from Galway to Dublin Town...

I'm ending radio silence after our few days in Derry. Its been a strange experience for me, both good and bad. Well, not bad, just strange, weird. Derry is a city steeped in history, most of which was violent, and especially recently. The murals of Free Derry, the walls that date back to the 1600's, the war memorials to WW1&2, the Apprentice Boy's, the Bloody Sunday Memorial, even just the graffiti on the walls from both sides of The Troubles is a constant reminder that All Is Not Well and that even though wounds are healing, they are still slow and infected. Beyond that, if you listen, you can hear the whispers and echoes of the ghosts, and you can still almost smell the blood in the cobblestones and the walls. It makes you truly consider the rifts in humanity, here in Ireland where it is still brother against brother in so many ways.

The hostel we've been staying in has been excellent though, warm and friendly, full of interesting characters and numerous stories. People who we know could be excellent friends given half a chance, people you're glad to have met that once but never need to see again. Tuesday night we found ourselves in the heart of the craic, in a pub called Peadar O'Donnell's, where the beer flows right along with the gorgeous traditional music, the sounds of fiddle and fife mingling with laughter as they drift out into the streets and everybody is one whole seething being in that glorious moment. Its what I'd been looking for, what we hadn't found until we tagged along with a load of drunken Aussies and Canadian tramps so that we had at least some familiar faces.

Yesterday Zoe and I walked the Walls of Derry, a mile circuit around the center of the city, complete with cannons placed every so often, churches and old graveyards, and magnificent views of the city surrounding you. You walk these places, this mix of old and new architecture, 500 year old churches next to shopping malls and restaurants, and you find yourself wondering what our own ancestors will make of us in 100 or 200 or 1,000 years.

Shortly, Zoe and I will be heading up to the town of Bushmills on the northern coast, home of the oldest whiskey distillery in the country, and we'll spend a couple nights there to take in the distillery and see the Giant's Causeway, until Saturday we find ourselves coming back to Derry to hang out at the hostel for just a little while longer. After that, who knows? Maybe Belfast and on to Scotland.

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