The headline might capture your attention, and some of you might even say, “who cares” but, it matters. Formerly, Northern Ireland was not a place most tourists visiting Ireland would visit, but things have changed.
Historic walls that were created in 1613 and a lovely town with lively pubs await a visit. Additionally, what I term, ‘Million dollar views of the renaissance-esque streetscapes’ span over a mile along the walls.
Today was the day I walked on the medieval walls of Derry in Northern Ireland, an experience I shall never forget. Lavishly live life out loud and walk with me, as I recant the moment.
Stopping In Londonderry, A.K.A. Derry
Remember, I was traveling with my husband, and we were guests of the CIE Adventure Irish TOUR. Truly an immersive, experiential option to dig deep into the culture and experience a lot over 9 days.
Derry itself is the situation on the River Foyle. I love how they refer to their rivers, in comparison to the USA. We say, “Allegheny River” and they would call it, ‘River Allegheny’.
Derry and Londonderry can be used interchangeably, and both are proper ways to reference. Those that live there, refer to the area as Derry. Visitors may refer to it as either. What we were about to experience is considered the best ‘Walled City in Europe.’
In fact, the wall encompasses over a walkable mile, of the inner city of Derry. Walking on the wall provides stellar views of the previously referred to renaissance-esque like city. At points the wall is 12 feet and others 35 ft tall, depending on where you are.
The ‘peep’ holes in the wall provide a very different perspective, for shooting photos. NO matter where we were, I was always walking behind the group and did not keep up, because I found MORE To photo and enjoy.
When we pulled up with our CIE TOURS bus, we parked in an iconic spot.
Bishop Street Courthouse
Eerie, and defiant of days past, we were directly parallel to the Bishop Street Courthouse. Why was it eerie? There was no one around (albeit a late afternoon on a Saturday), but more because the government building had been BOMBED 45x over the years.
Definitely worth a photo right? While it is a destination you don’t want to miss you also don’t need to worry about anything, it was just a sad piece of history.
Before heading to the walls, our local walking guide met us, and told us all about the history, while we were on the bus. Once we got off, his legs took off and his mouth rambled on in such a way, you had to listen.
A lively storyteller, history just gushed from him and pride in his city. Our first steps out of the bus and we saw and learned about the Bishop’s Gate and 3 others that were each on the main streets. Gates: Bishop, Ferryquay, Shipquay, and Butcher’s Gate. All gates lead you out of the centrally preserved area, protected by the wall.
To The Wall
Behold what my eyes were about to see, a view that extended beyond my wildest dreams and that city I keep talking about. Picturesque, attractive, quaint, pretty, charming, delightful, vivid, unusual, impressive and striking are the words that come to mind.
While I can’t say that it is the things fairytales are made of, I can say that the tales here are gruesome, as the people in Northern Ireland have battled for their freedom through Civil Rights movements.
Rather than consider the bad, I looked at the beauty and understood the history that brought it all about. You can’t help but to really be attracted to the cityscape, it reminded me a little of home. The houses stacked one after the other.
Bogside Area of Derry: The People’s Gallery
But there’s more, do you see the painted mural of Annette McGavigan? She’s only 14 and she was killed by a British soldier. Annett was simply standing on the street where she resided. The image is known as ‘Death of Innocence.’
What I can share with you is additional imagery we took while ON the bus. We stopped briefly along the roadside as we were winding our way up to the Derry Walls to walk, but I feel compelled to share this with you.
To understand a country, a culture, a city, a place, you need to look at it from the inside. Learning about Ireland first hand, from the area, and through the People’s Wall depicted something so different than we were taught in school.
Back To Our Walking Tour
Was I really looking at a cannon? Yes. There are several along the wall, unfortunately, we had a lot of territory to cover and we were losing daylight, so onward.
My Favorite Uphill Photo
While we only sauntered on a piece of the long one-mile wall, I loved what we saw. There’s more to uncover here, but for today was a great introduction into the history of Derry. This is my favorite uphill photo that I captured while walking.
I had to keep up with the group, but as they walked ahead, I stopped and spent a moment to take it all in. Once in a lifetime right?
St. Augustine’s Church
There’s nothing like a church amidst a lovely walkway and this one rich in history. However, when dusk touches it, with the lighting, your camera will beckon you to snap away. I did just that because dusk-kissed elegance appears.
Around the corner, was the alleyway that I loved. Perhaps one of my favorite photos of the trip, as it is simple and pretty. As a traveling gal, I love alleyways and the imagery they offer, and this was exceptional.
Often I consider a beautiful alley a stolen moment that I get to enjoy. Untouched, pristine and ready to be shared with the world, and after the photo, it is just that, an alley that other pass.
History Comes To Life
To experience Northern Ireland the way I did, walking, watching, hearing. learning was a memorable time. Understanding that textbooks are great but real life is best, is an understatement. My appreciation for the plight of those involved through the years of tireless struggle was increased.
CIE TOURS provides a nice depth of information and strong walking guides who truly bask in their jobs. I look forward to returning to Belfast to see other sites we did not get to visit on this trip. We have only just begun. ~ DANA XO