Thursday, June 24, 2010

Derry/Londonderry; The Slash City

What one calls this city on the Foyle River, depends on your political persuasion. For Nationalists, it's Derry, for Loyalists or Unionists, it's Londonderry. Because it is nearly always referred to with a slash between the two names, lots of the locals call it Slash. Gotta love that Irish sense of humor!

Derry has the oldest, most complete set of city walls left in Ireland. It has always been a fortified town. We were able to walk the entire way around the old town on the wall. The views were great.

One side of town is Loyalist and the other side is Nationalist, each with their appropriate signs and art work.

We found Derry to be very busy. Lots of cars and trucks. Impossible to find a park. Pedestrians, especially young mothers with strollers. Pensioners enjoying the nice weather, even though it did look like rain. Construction and reconstruction, everywhere. We skipped the St Columbe cathedral because with all the construction and renovation going on, we couldn't figure out how to get in!

After what seemed like hours of walking, we stopped into a local pub, The Gainsborough, for a pint. It was a good choice; no tourists, but us, and as we sat and sipped, more locals came in. A elderly gentleman, dressed in a suit with cuff linked cuffs on his shirt, sat down by me. He had the most beautiful cane, which he told me was Blackthorn. He asked where we were from, then referred to our place of residence as "The Americas", as he had family who had emigrated to Long Island, New York. Everyone in the pub started listening to our conversation. The gentleman had suffered a stroke, so had to speak slowly and think between his sentences, as well as to my replies. He was a war veteran, who still did his own shirts, but let others 'put a crease in my trousers'. A thoroughly delightful gentleman, who did say it was much nicer since the end of the Troubles. As we were leaving, he took my hand and said, 'In Ireland we do not say goodbye, we say Safe Home'.

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