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Published: August 12th 2011
The Giants Causeway
A spectacular natural rock formation and our first highlight in Ireland
(LONDON)DERRY – 15,000 PROTESTANT APPRENTICE BOYS MARCHING TOMORROW – we gotta get out of this place!
Firstly we had a two hour trip from Glasgow to Cairnryan to catch the Scotland to Northern Ireland (Larne) ferry. Then it was another two hour Ferry ride in calm seas to reach the Emerald Isles.
We headed up the Antrim Coast to Giant’s Causeway our first official stop on Irish soil. It was a 15 minute walk in wet and windy conditions to get down to the Causeway – the site is composed of 40,000 regular shaped basalt columns packed closely together as if to form a stepping stone out to sea. Because I’m not too steady on my feet and the rocks were wet and slippery I couldn’t get a full appreciation of the effect it created, Jeanette had a good look around and took some great photos. We got drenched on the walk back up but it was good to get some exercise and work off some of those full English breakfasts!
We then headed for London(Derry) for the night, our hotel-The City is right in the middle of town. Unfortunately (although it really brings the whole
A group of Catholic protesters have set up camp in the city centre
Irish conflict thing home!) tomorrow is the Apprentice Boys (Protestant) march though the city centre. 15,000 will march in support of their cause and in remembrance of the past – the conflicts go back to the 1600s.
To give you an idea of the feeling this is where Bloody Sunday took place – 13 Catholics were shot in the riots. As we went through town there were huge murals on the sides of buildings depicting the struggle – the one that hit the hardest was a life size picture of the first catholic girl killed in the modern conflict, she is depicted standing in her school uniform. Our guide was a teenager in the 70’s when the conflict kicked off and her commentary was riveting ( she is a catholic).
There is a wall around the city with (loosely) Catholics on one side (Boggs) and Protestants on the other.
We passed a group of Catholics pitching tents in a small area on the March route. They had flags and a banner about freeing a ‘political prisoner’. The guide expressed genuine surprise and concern when she saw this.
As we were walking around people were shouting nationalist slogans down
Not the sort of central city mural you would normally expect
to us from surrounding buildings – it was all pretty surreal. Stuff we had watched on TV over many years, who would have thought we would have been this close to it!
Our schedule has been changed, we did the city tour tonight instead of tomorrow and we will leave the hotel and the city about 10.15am tomorrow morning.
This historical battle is way too close for comfort! Our guide said all the trouble comes from people who come in from out of town – there were quite a few Apprentice Boys on our ferry and they were hooking into the grog at 10.30am God knows what condition they will be in tomorrow! As part of our City tour we walked past the Apprentice Boys World Headquarters and things were already getting a bit rowdy!
Hopefully the March will pass without incident and things will get back to normal for all concerned.
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Disturbances and hello
Hello you two, Thought I'd catch up on your travels while watching Newcastle v Arsenal on the first day of the Premiership (not particularly interested - cricket victories very front of mind). I thought of you last week during Riot England (safe in Chiswick although some shops boarded up just in case); I reassured myself that you'd be well out of the way of trouble (small 't'), north of the border but you've found some in Ireland... It looks a little bit wet where you are - I hope the sun has shone through at times although mist adds to the mood in Scotland (very envious of Orkney visit). Take care, Leah xx
Hi Leah great to hear from you. Scotland was brilliant - temperature ranged from 9-15 degrees and it was quite wet - but didn't worry us at all! Pleased to have missed the troubles in UK and that they didn't affect you (Ealing is quite close to you isn't it?). Hopefully will all be settled down by the time we cross get back. Ireland goos so far (slight worry in Derry - all part of experience though. Love Grant and Jeanette