Despite the bicycle in the photo, this post is not very much about bicycling. It consists mostly of non-bicycling photos from a recent visit to Ireland to visit our daughter.My Bike Friday came along, though, and got three days of use around Sligo.
The photo was taken on my first ride, where I happened upon the Carrowmore neolithic tomb site. A reconstructed tomb is in the background. The site was officially closed at this time of year, but I climbed a gate to join some other tourists who were getting a closer look at some of the unreconstructed parts. I’ll save those photos and others from the bike rides for later posts.
This map shows most of our travel routes. We arrived at the Dublin airport on the 14th. On the 17th we took the train from Laytown to Dublin and then to Sligo, where we stayed a few days. The red lines are my bicycle routes. Then we took a bus to Derry, where our daughter rejoined us. The blue lines show where she drove us around for more sightseeing.
In Derry we stayed at the Saddlers House B&B for a couple of nights. We had good places to stay wherever we went. It was past the normal tourist season, so we just found places as we went along. (Actually, our daughter did most of that part.)
The photos in this post are not representative of everything we saw, by the way.
We took a couple of walking tours in Derry. One of them took us to places around the Bogside where the Bloody Sunday massacre took place in summer 1972. Our tour guide was Paul Doherty, whose father was one of those shot by the British soldiers on that Sunday. He was also instrumental in the Saville inquiry of 1998-2010, a second inquiry that reversed the findings of a whitewash inquiry that was conducted immediately after the event. He told us up front that he is not a historian and was not going to give us both sides of the story, and was true to his word.
The street corner shown in the photo was a different business place in 1972, and was involved in an audio recording that was brought to light for the second inquiry. The whole initial investigation was a story of convenient memory losses on the part of the participants, destruction and hiding of evidence, intimidation of witnesses, false testimony, and protection of the higher-ups by higher-ups. During the re-opened inquiry, there were complaints about the amount of money being spent on the investigation. The story was eerily reminiscent of some official inquiries in recent years in our own country.
This is approximately the view of the Bogside that British soldiers had when they were stationed here and kept an eye on things from their barracks. Most of the old buildings have been replaced since the early days of the Troubles, though.
The old walled city of Derry is surrounded by the water of the Foyle River on three sides. The fourth side was once boggy lowland, now called Bogside, where the Irish Catholics lived. When touring the city wall we also saw a section where Unionists lived (and still live) complete with their own murals and signs.
The Peace Bridge is a bicycle and pedestrian bridge that was built in 2011 to connect the old city with land on the other side of the River. I must confess that I haven’t learned which of the once-antagonistic factions it is meant to bridge, but there is at lot of the story of Derry that I haven’t learned yet. This photo was taken looking back toward the old city. The building with the clock tower is the Guildhall, which is the building where the Saville inquiry of 1998-2010 took place. It’s also the starting point for the Bogside tours and some of the others.
One of the places we visited after leaving Derry was the Doagh Famine Village, near the northern tip of Ireland. The family that runs the place and provides the tours lived in one of the thatched-roof cottages until the mid 1980s. Despite the name of the site, the place is about far more than the Irish famine of the 1840s. For example, would you go to a famine village to learn about the passing of the old cultures of Gypsies and Travelers? But there is an exhibit room on that topic, with some rather perceptive comments on the display signs. And there was much more. Poverty around the world was a frequent topic, but overall the museum was kind of a hodge-podge – in a good way. I liked it and would like to go back some time to see the new exhibits that are being built.
Someone came up with the name Misery Tours as a collective term for these tourist places like the Famine Village, the Bogside Walking Tour, and the Famine Ship (which we visited in 2014). I don’t know if it was one our party came up with that term, or if it came from one of our B&B hosts or someone else, but that’s what we’ve taken to calling them. We tend to seek them out, but one we missed was the new Tenement Museum in Dublin. It wasn’t open while we were there. Maybe next time.
No famine for us anywhere on this trip. After visiting the Doagh Famine Village we stopped for lunch in Carndonagh. I didn’t take photos of every street where we stopped to eat. I kind of wish I had, but I did this one just because.
Malin Head is the northernmost tip of Ireland. It was windy when we were there, and one of the main activities when standing up here on the high point was keeping my footing so I wouldn’t get blown over.
The concrete structure is leftover from World War II when Irish soldiers monitored the sky and water for planes and ships. Ireland was officially neutral during the war, but some of the equipment came from the British and useful information was sent from here to the British.
As usual we visited a few castles. The photo shows a small piece of the Dunluce Castle.
At the visitor center for the Giants’ Causeway I paid for us to get the guided tour. We should have skipped the tour and just walked down by ourselves to visit the Causeway. I didn’t spend much time there (it’s the pointy projection out into the sea) but went off on a trail that climbs the cliff. At various points I looked back and took photos, including this one.
At Ballycastle we were getting comfortable with being on the road in Ireland. It’s a long story and not interesting enough to explain. It was just easy and comfortable to be there. But we were also getting close to the end of our two week stay.
From the harbor at Ballycastle we were able to see the cliffs of Fair Head, so went out to take a look. We parked at a car park in the corner of a farmyard, and went hiking in the farmer’s pasture. A trail is marked, sort of, with signposts. You’re on your own to figure out how to get from one signpost to the next, using cow paths or any route that seems likely. If you get close enough to the edge you can hear the surf down below.
Our last night on the road was at the Pier 36 bar, restaurant, and guest house in Donaghadee. Our rooms were up a narrow staircase on the third floor and very comfortable, with a nice view of the harbor. In the morning we watched seals and diving birds.
There was more at the end and more at the beginning of the two weeks, but it’s time to get back to some roadside history posts.