Free Derry

28 Oct

On our Northern Ireland trip, we spent a day in Derry, and it was rather interesting. Derry is considered part of the United Kingdom, so I sadly had to use the pound while I was there (even worse exchange rate than the euro to the dollar… ugh). We took a walking tour around Derry to learn about the wall that was built to separate the Catholics and Protestants. It still stands today, but the gates that used to be closed to separate the two regions are left open today for tourists such as myself. Our tour guide took us through the Derry neighborhoods and explained the murals painted on the city walls. There has been a lot of violence in Derry’s history, but it has become more peaceful in present days. Violence reached its peak in the 1960s in a three-day battle between Derry’s citizens and the police. This was called the Battle of the Bogside. The people of Derry stood their ground and told the British Army that they would fight the police and army until their needs were met, and the British Army backed off. Then, Bloody Sunday occurred in the 1970s, and support for the IRA increased even more because innocent people were shot dead. The story that touched me the most was about a little girl who was walking the city center and got shot. Our tour guide told us about how innocent people were killed and injured for being in the wrong place at the wrong time because the British Army would fire their weaponry without second thought. There was a mural painted for the little girl, and her father spent every day until his death talking to her mural because he was never able to move on. It was so sad! We also went to the Free Derry Museum (the smallest museum I’ve ever seen), which focused on the violent events in Derry’s history, like Bloody Sunday, the day of mass killing. Overall, it was a really interesting day and I learned a lot from the murals and our tour leader.

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