15 October by Scott Harrison
There’s one place on this earth which we absolutely adore and that is Cornwall. So when the editor of the Cornish Guardian asked if he could send our tourism cluster a blog about his trip to Derry – Londonderry, we were delighted to hear what he had to say. Scott Harrison gives us this view on our Walled City.
There is no denying its beauty and no way of ignoring its scars.
Derry – Londonderry is a vibrant, charming city which offers visitors like me a history lesson with every footstep.
Inside this walled city I found magnificent cobbled walkways, lively street artists and trendy cafés aplenty. To me, though, it is the city’s history itself that is the main attraction – both the remarkable and regrettable in equal measure.
Derry-Londonderry boosts some of the most complete city walls in Europe. Its stone walls speak, one by one, of 1,500 years of rule, struggle and survival, fantastically capped by its gloriously gothic Guildhall.
Cannons from various reigns are mounted throughout the city and I found myself stopping near each one of them to read the raised inscriptions and run my hands across the flecked, bold-black paintwork.
I stopped, too, at the numerous bastions surrounding the city, drinking in the views of its bustling streets and historic buildings on one side before turning to the sweeping vistas of the blue Donegal hills in the distance on the other.
But as impressive as Derry-Londonderry’s obvious charms are, there are many, many reminders outside these walls that speak of the starring role this city played in The Troubles.
And perhaps the most regrettable event of those violent years was Bloody Sunday, the day in 1972 when the British Army opened fire on unarmed civilians during a protest march against interment.
Twenty-six people were shot on January 30, 1972, 14 of them fatally. The day lives in infamy and is splendidly represented in a series of unmissable murals which graphically illustrate that disastrous decision – all against the backdrop of the walls of the ancient city, this particular section of it reinforced with caged fencing that runs the distance of the very street were so much innocent blood was spilt.
I was truly moved by these murals and spentd several hours walking around them. Even today I revisit the photographs I took from that day, trying to understand how and why it really happened. I am sure I am not alone in that regard.
But Derry-Londonderry has learned to live with its past. Its new Peace Bridge across the River Foyle speaks to that, a striking break from centuries before as the city extends the hand of friendship to itself and its visitors – scars and all.
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