Europe 2006: Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland & N.Ireland
Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland
18 Jan 2007
After half a day at work, we rushed ourselves to Heathrow in the nick of time to have our boarding passes printed - only to have the next episode of my love affair with London and Heathrow span out....
Our flight was cancelled.…!
Fortunately, after about a seven hour wait we were transferred on to another flight headed to Dublin. Unfortunately by the time we got to Dublin, we had very little time left to explore the city. Disappointed by the fact we wont get to take in a tour of the Guinness brewery, we headed out for a quick tour of the city by foot, before grabbing a Guinness at one of the city’s iconic pubs, the Temple Bar.
The next morning was an early start, with our 3 day tour of Northern Ireland set to get off at 8am. A group of around 25 people gathered at the pick up point for the tour, but it was only when the guides asked those on the Northern tour to separate from those on the Southern, that we understood we were somewhat isolated with all bar one of the rest of the group moving to the side of the Southern tour….
This initial shock aside, we started our almost personalised tour of Northern Ireland in a flash little green van. After a quick stop at Slane Castle, we headed to St. Peter’s Cathedral in Drogheda where the preserved head of St. Oliver Plunkett was on display. From there we headed off to Armagh (Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital) where we visited two separate St. Patrick's cathedrals, one each to represent the interests of the catholic and protestant communities in the area.
The final stop of the day was London Derry (or Derry). The history and politics behind this city is significant. In fact, the tour guide had thus far opened my eyes to a whole new Ireland, which up till then (thanks to my own ignorance) only had me identifying the country with Guinness, St. Pat's day, rugby and U2. However for the purposes of this journal, I am going to keep as much of the politics out as possible. But it is important to note that this trip was a lot about understanding the conflict and troubles faced by the peoples of both countries - and from my view, is a definite must for anyone with the slightest bit of interest in the conflicts currently dominating our world.
The political shadow of the city aside, we had a pretty good night out in Derry. While the options as to where to go out were reasonably limited, the clubs that were available were full, and consisted of an interesting mix of very friendly people. The next morning we took another lesson on the city's history and background politics, and visited the sight of bloody Sunday and the wall separating the city's catholic and protestant communities.
Later on in the morning we started our trip towards Belfast, stopping at the Giant’s Causeway on the way. Belfast is a great little city with some classical architecture and a seemingly great night life (going on our one night of experience). The next morning was once again very similar to that in Derry, as we took an organised cab ride through the city's conflict zones passing through the numerous walls constructed in an effort to separate the catholic and protestant communities. At the completion of the tour we spent some more time exploring the city by foot before starting our long trip back home via Dublin.
Locations Visited: Dublin , Belfast , Derry