Derry

I took a day trip by train to see Derry/Londonderry (it’s Derry if you’re Catholic and Londonderry if you’re Protestant, for the most part, and Derry, or Derrie, was the original name on the town charter so I’ll go with that). It’s the biggest city on the border where the six northern counties of Northern Ireland meet the Republic of Ireland. It’s also the site of the Netflix show Derry Girls (I got pictures with the mural).

It was rainy and overcast for the first hour or two, then the weather cleared a little but my socks were damp all day long. It’s a two hour train ride along the coastline, including cliffs and beaches and the Black Arch, not too far from the Giants Causeway, which I’ll be seeing tomorrow on an all-day bus tour.

There weren’t as many tourists as I expected, maybe because it was Monday, rainy, and September is the tail end of tourist season. It’s getting a little bit chillier week by week. Started out in the mid to high 60s and now 65 is a rare day.

The picture to the left is the Free Derry corner sign that demarcated the Protestant vs Catholic areas of the city. Traditionally, as in all of Northern Ireland, the Protestant areas were nicer, closer to the city center, and better funded.

To the left is St Augustine’s, a 19th century church built on the ruins of the oldest site in the city, a monastery founded in a clearing of oaks by St Columb (thus why so many religious sites around the city are dedicated to him). The church runs north-south rather than the traditional east-west because Columb couldn’t stand to cut down oaks to make space for it, so he built it in a meadow. I can’t imagine all this land covered in trees, though it was thickly forested. Now it’s green hills to the horizon and the most visible landmarks along the way are church spires.

The greeter at the door was very nice (you can see her waving in this picture). Nothing was busy, so I had the place to myself. The greeter told me if I was just wandering around, I should head up and see an art installation above the church’s school. She led me to this empty wood-floored room on the second story. The art installation was two videos of a leaf and a feather twisting in the wind. It reminded me a lot of that random modern art installation I stumbled over in Snug Harbor.

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