Friday, September 2, 2016


 The reason why I'm leaving so many stories untold is because we have blog posts to do as part of our schoolwork. Our trip to Derry and Donegal Castle last Saturday is no different. I'll give a few pictures, but the bigger story on the Murals will have to wait until my group puts it together.

On our way to Derry, Brian ( Our super fabulous bus driver, who is the best bus driver in all Ireland)  made an impromptu stop at an ancient round fort. It was said to be made during the time of Christ. We climbed and climbed and climbed the hill to reach it. The bus was sputtering and complaining but we made it. The view was stunning.

Stairs led to different levels within the fort.
The view!

Gateway to the outer world.

We crossed the "border" into Northern Ireland and finally reached Derry where Brian explained the meaning of the murals. A brief history on Derry. When people think of the troubles in Northern Ireland they normally think of Belfast in the East, but Derry was also in turmoil in the west. Derry is split by the River Foyle. The "rich" side on the east of the Foyle is called the waterside and is where mostly Protestant Unionists (those loyal to the Union) lived. It contains the good farming land. The Bogside is where the oppressed Catholic Irish who want Ireland to be its own nation (Nationalists) were sent to.

The trouble came in because the Unionists wanted Ireland to be part of the Europian union while the Nationalists wanted to be free from England. So gunfire and bloodshed resulted.

The picture below represents how the Nationalists felt. The bird is a lark. If you cage a lark it stops singing. If you deprive it of food it weakens. If you beat it, it dies. This is how the Irish felt.
 The Troubles continued. The Civil Rights movement in the US continued on into Ireland. The Nationalists organized Civil Rights marches even though the Unionists forbid them. During one of these peace marches 1972, the protesters were needlessly fired upon and thirteen innocent men were killed. Most of them were quite young. Another succumbed to his wounds and died later. For a time, the myth circulated that the Nationalists had fired first. It took years before they admitted that that accusation was completely unfounded and these fourteen people were completely innocent. This tragedy became known as Bloody Sunday.

The faces of those killed.

 I'm going to try to give a brief overview of the Murals. More detail will be given in our group blog. (This is already far too long.) These Murals were painted on houses along the street in Bogside Derry where the fighting took place. I'll only cover the ones have a particularly interesting story and/or that won't be in our group blog post.

This Mural depicts a young man standing in the middle of the road which acted as the battlefield. The battles would come in predictable heats. Gunfire would fill the streets and dust rose from the scuffle then when it was time for dinner both sides would retreat and return later. Not so for this young man. He stood there all the time. He would wait for the others to return and would be the first to fire at the enemy. Only his ammo was not bullets, but bricks, rocks, and other rubble scattered over the streets. His shield was a bed spring. Eventually, he was killed when he was run over by the enemy in their trucks.

 The Mural below was blocked by scaffolding because it was being repaired. Although it is hard to see it depicts a young 14yo girl who was in school. Her teacher sent her to gather stones for her geology class. While she was in the streets picking up pebbles, a sniper on the wall shot and killed her. The background is dark and represents the chaos and rubble that the streets were reduced to.  The butterfly was originally painted gray until 1998 when it was colored to represent the new peace. There is also a gun in the picture. It was whole during the Troubles, but when peace came it was repainted to be broken.

 I wasn't given much story behind this Mural, but I believe it speaks for itself. As heart pulling as the stories behind the other Murals were, this one is tragic just by looking at it. It is depicting the tragedy of Bloody Sunday. Brian said that it was this Mural that held the most impact on him and many other young Irish boys.

On a slightly brighter note: the rest of Derry. Derry is one of the only walled cities remaining. It was neat getting to walk on them. Despite the age of these walls and the battles they have seen. The walls of Derry have never been breached. In the 1600s (I believe) the Irish were rebelling against the English in Derry. They held Derry in a lockdown siege. 20,000 English lived in Derry but they were reduced to 8,000 because of starvation. If the Irish would have known how weak the English were, History would have dramaticly changed.
 Funny story. I was snapping pictures when suddenly the rest of the group in front of me started screaming and ducking. I heard a whirring overhead. Instinctively, I ducked down. Just in time because a flock of pigeons flew just inches above our heads. We could feel the wind from their wings! Crazy birds. 
 This is Derry's medieval tower
 Cannons lined the walls. Brian said one of them has a rose stamp and was from the Tudor period.
 Every gate in the wall was marked from ontop of the wall.
 Notches for archers to shoot arrows though lined the wall. This one looks out into Derry.

Beautiful church.
 In 1998 a Peace Treaty was signed. Immediately this Peace Bridge started to be built. It is a step in the right direction to healing the hurts that mar this city. Although it is decades later, we could still feel tension hanging in the air.
 This lovely city hall has an interesting story. During the Troubles a Unionist (Sorry. I don't remember his name.) bombed this building, destroying it. After peace was made and the city hall rebuilt, he gave a speech in there. When he was finished, everyone gave him a rousing applause. As he sat down he murmured, "Last time I was here I literally brought the house down.)

Sorry for the long post, but this City held so much depth. I haven't which day yet, but next week I'll do a post about my brouhaha on Croagh Patrick -- Ireland's Holy Mountian. That is a story well deserving of its own post...


  1. While you are at some of these places, do you wonder if our ancestors walked where you are walking? I was looking at the walls of steps and wondering that myself.
    You are becoming a masterful photographer.
    I love you!

    1. The Bevins line was from Belfast. Joseph Bevins was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1751. His family had the honorable occupation of linen weavers. Most early genealogists say the family came to America in 1770.

    2. The Murphy line is reportedly from Northern Ireland as well. Matthew Lyon was from Co. Wicklow. :)

    3. And the McCoys may have come from Belfast as well, though the family was originally from Scotland.