I arrived in Derry last night after a rather long travel day. My plan to simply take the bus here from Galway became a little convoluted due to the Bus Eireann strike but I managed to make my way here in the end! Being greeted at the hostel by a very helpful man who immediately put the kettle on and went over a map of the city with me didn’t hurt, either.
On the train ride up here I had to keep myself from laughing a couple times because this city goes by both Derry and Londonderry so when it was announced over the P.A. system they would say “This train is going to Derry, Londonderry.” Every time it reminded me of “Bond, James Bond” and I couldn’t help but think of this place as some sort of covert spy hideout.
So far, it is not.
What it is however is a very interesting city with a vast history of struggle and unrest. Much of the political and religious civil war battles we hear about from Ireland happened here dating back to 400 years ago. It was also the site of Bloody Sunday (something I’m going to learn a little more about when I go to the Free Derry Museum tomorrow). The walls that were built around the city hundreds of years ago are still up and you can walk them just as you would have back then. It is a really cool feeling, knowing that you’re stepping where so many people stepped, looking out towards places where so many battles were fought.
I went to the Tower Museum which is a great (and relatively inexpensive) place to go if you are ever here and want to learn about how this city came about. It goes over the history and all of the uprisings, wars, and various other significant moments that occurred here.
What I’m finding very interesting as well is that there had been a severe decline in tourism here (and apparently also in a lot of Ireland) where shop, hotel, and B&B owners were starting to struggle, some ultimately going out of business. I know that many people may not come to Northern Ireland and, if they do, they head to Belfast but I really recommend making your way to Derry (Londonderry). It is a great little place with beautiful murals, great architecture, and a really cool history to learn about.