Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween in Derry

This past weekend was spent celebrating Halloween in Derry, Northern Ireland, not to be confused with the Republic of Ireland. As we learned this weekend from our tour of Free Derry this was a long and bloody process to become what Derry is today. The civil rights movement in Ireland has its deepest roots in Derry. After countless attacks of British and Unionists on Irish civilians many riots took place in the streets. In January of 1969 the defiant slogan "You Are Now Entering Free Derry" appeared on a gable wall in the Bogside area of town. It still stands today as a reminder of Derry's history. The most famous event that took place here is known as Bloody Sunday. On this day 14 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead and 14 others injured by the British army in the streets. This was a defining moment for the IRA to gain more support in their crusade for justice and equal rights. Basically there was a plantation created here by the British who sent over protestants to take over the area. In those days you had to be wealthy to vote, so gerrymandering made it possible for the protestants to have 2/3 majority in the votes. The Irish Catholics were never allowed to vote and were kept down by the men in power. Our tour guide said it's not just about religion, it's just that the poor protestants didn't care about equal rights like the Irish Catholics. I learned how bloody and gruesome this portion of Ireland's history was. I was so surprised that I haven't really heard much about it before in school. The murals around Derry were very well done, and you could really see the fear on people's faces.

On a lighter note, we visited the Giant's Causeway. It's a World Heritage Site that stretches four miles of the coast. The shore is covered with large pillars shaped like hexagons that stick up at all different heights. Geologists say that the Giant's Causeway was formed by volcanic eruptions more than 60 million years ago. While the surface of the lava flow quickly it cooled, contracted and cracked into hexagonal columns. As time went by the columns were eroded and broke off into many stair-like steps. We also learned of the mythical origins of the Giant's Causeway. Supposedly, the Ulster giant warrior named Finn MacCool wanted to reach his love on the Scottish island of Staffa (as back then the Causeway reached all the way to Scotland). A rival giant ruined Finn's Causeway as he fled from Finn and tore it up so that he could not be followed.

After we explored the Causeway we returned to Derry to get ready for Halloween night. I was a detective, and made my magnifying glass out of an industrial sized toilet paper roll, a Ticonderoga pencil and plastic wrap. Twas an excellent costume!!! We enjoyed the Halloween parade, fireworks, and a night out at a local club. It was such a great weekend and I'd encourage people to find out more about the Civil Rights Movement in Ireland. Enjoy the pictures...

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Northern Ireland is so beautiful!!!

The train ride was gorgeous!

The Giant's Causeway

The rocks are shaped like hexagons.

I climbed the mountain of rocks!

Murals in the Free Derry portion of town. They represent the Nation Civil Rights movement that happened here just about 40 years ago. That's recent history!

Erika wanted it to look like I was eating the rocks...I don't think it worked.

The rocks were so tall.

I was a detective and Mariel was a pixie. We had great costumes:)

These kids were so cute! There was a band entertaining us with songs and the kids were dancing around. I think that dancing is in the Irish blood because these kids were great!

There was a parade at nightfall along the Foyle River. Here are some kids that walked in the parade.

There were beautiful masks.

There were fireworks over the Foyle River

I met a hot dog!!!

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