Exploring Northern Ireland; Stroke City

This is the last article in a series of five regarding a week´s visit by car exploring Northern Ireland. It was a family trip. During the trip I blogged and uploaded photos here! However, the difference is that I now have the full information and can compare.

Exploring Northern Ireland; Stroke City

by

Mikael Strandberg

“This small enclave you see below here is the only one in this area which is protestant” , the guide told us and continued with passion; “But do you know what my dream is? I hope, and think, that the peace accord now in place can serve is a blue print for other nations with the same trouble and they can see and learn from us, no matter how deep the divisions are, as long as one talks, talks and talks, there´s possibilities.”


I looked down from the Old Derry Wall, which was set up beginning in the year of 1613, over a tiny little enclave, where the pavement was colored in the Union Jack colors, houses sporting the Queens flag and a sign said:

Londonderry

West Bank

Loyalists

Still

Under Siege

No Surrender


As a tourist, so much of this wee little country´s history is dominated by centuries of violent division, so you can´t get away from it. It deals with everything, penetrates every street corner. It fascinates me. As did the walk along the wall. And once again, a very good guide made such a difference. We passed St Columb´s Cathedral, Roaring Meg, the Cat Walk and once there, we saw the place of the column which IRA blew away, but most of all we got an excellent view over Bogside and saw the murals from a distance. So calm right now, it was hard to understand the many struggles the inhabitants had gone through over the years. Derry as the Catholics call the city or Londonderry as the protestants say, is a beautiful quaint city,(Stroke City is also an acknowledge name of this double city) but I just have a tiny feeling that a kind of siege mentality still exists. Which I fully can understand. Change takes time, but it is definitely on the way, because no matter who we met, talked to, not one of them said anything against the present developing situation. Maybe because this is the home of one of my favorite humans, the Nobel Peace Price winner John Hume. (Shared with David Trimble)

Since Eva had a bad cold, I set off in the evening by myself to Bogside. These murals, the history, this is where The Bloody Sunday happened,  just intrigues me beyond belief. And whilst there I met a great fella who had been through those hard years of the Troubles. I told him how much I admired the political murals, but he than said:

“I wish we had more which dealt with the contemporary situation in the world. Not only the troubled years. We have learned to live with them”

He by this answered a question I have had in mind since Shankill, how does it affect people who live with these sad murals in their everyday life? I found the Bogside Murals more political than the Belfast one´s. But still extremely good.

Next day, all three of us went to the Bloody Sunday Museum in Bogside which of course, leans to the Catholic side, but definitely is a must see when in Stroke City. There´s no doubt one get´s profoundly affected by this sad event and I have to say again, I will really never ever understand why some people believe they have the right to live better than others? How can anyone live as a perpetrator of apartheid? I don´t get it, no matter how indoctrinated, scared one is, we are just mere humans, right?

I understand it is a very complex issue and that the divisions date back to the 17th Century when Scottish/English farmers were granted land over here, plantations, by the than King of England who wanted to move loyal people into the land of the brawling Irish as a measure to control them. I also know that the Catholics wasn´t kicked out of their land, massacred, no active persecution or savage repression like for example the former South Africa, but there´s no doubt serious inequalities have persisted for hundreds of years and I just don´t understand how it could last for so long?

Anyway, that was on a serious note, which shows how one gets affected by its history, but let me add with strength, the local people of Northern ireland is definitely with the best I have ever come across and one never ever feels any kind of aggressiveness or threat as a visitor, much on the contrary. I say that because I have received plenty of emails if it is safe enough. The answer is YES and Northern Ireland is a real gem which just have to be visited!


3 reasons why one should visit Northern Ireland.

1. It is a really genuine place in every way. People, environment and the general feeling. Very few places of tourism like that on earth today! Incredibly Family friendly!

2. The local people. They´re great story tellers, very frank and genuine and they really appreciate visitors. There´s none of that which is becoming a problem in well visited countries, that they don´t want tourists there. And they therefore treat you indifferently. It never happens here!

3. Torr Head Scenic Route. One of the most scenic, thrilling and beautiful routes on earth.

If you want to see more photos of this great place, for a bit of everything visit here or more professional choice see the murals at http://mikaelstrandberg.500px.com/ and Northern Ireland here!

For more info and if you like me love Ireland and Northern Ireland, go to:

Facebook and like it at http://www.facebook.com/DiscoverIrelandNordics and http://www.facebook.com/upptackirland

Finally I want to thank Declan Murphy in Killarney, Ruairi and Glenda at Tourism Ireland who inspired us to visit this amazing country. And, also, millions of  thank you to that more than wee group of local people who have followed and commented my articles and photos on Facebook and Google Plus.

Please visit my sponsors Termo who are making it possible for me to write 2 blog reports per week. Just click the logo to find the best underwear on earth.

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