Thursday, January 14, 2010


Sunday, September 14th, 2003 Londonderry (Derry)

We slept in a bit as breakfast was scheduled for 8 am. Then we were off to downtown Derry or Londonderry to the Protestants; for a walk around the walls with our tour director named Ronon MacNamara. Born of a Chinese mother and an Irish father! About 30 years of age, he had a wonderful Irish sense of humor and gave us a great insight about being a bit different than the average Irishman, a very Caucasian group! When playing Hurling as a young man the announcers referred to him as a “black man” because of his darker complexion.

Saw the few remaining barracks of the British Army…heavily fenced and fortified; yes we are still in Northern Ireland. Large two story paintings on the ends of buildings showing famous scenes from the forty-year war. Many areas are very new as they were heavily bombed during the conflict. About 10 am we split up and went our separate ways to church. At noon we regrouped for a bus ride back to the hotel and lunch. After lunch, Barbara and John elected to stay home and rest, Jim stayed to watch the car races on TV. Mary, Phil and I went for the afternoon spin to the Northern-most tip of Ireland; actually part of the Republic of Ireland. So, it is the southern most northern tip of Ireland.

Our first stop on the Inishowen Peninsula was at the royal seat of the O’Neill clan. It is situated at the crest of the highest hill in the area with a three hundred sixty degree view. It is called Grianan Ailigh. A great stone ring with three levels on the wall. Under the walls exist huge basement rooms used for storage and hiding of woman and children during battles. Heather was abundant on the hill, but rather short.

Our guide for the day continued to be Ronan. The weather was beginning to mist and by our next stop it was a soft rain. We enjoyed a view of the tidelands all the way to the tip. Our stop for refreshments was at Malin. After a queue at the loo…we stopped at the store for an ice cream treat known as a “poke” on the peninsula of Inishowen. As we left Malin we were told that Patty Hearst now lives with her Irish Policeman outside the town of Malin; his hometown. Soon we were at the northern most house that had a view of the Atlantic Ocean. We could see that the weather would be clearing hopefully by tomorrow. A quick photo stop and then back down the Peninsula to our hotel by about 4:30 pm.

We were just in time to watch the last few minutes of the national playoffs for the Hurling Championship! There were nearly 80,000 spectators in the stadium and as Ronan said every TV in Ireland was tuned in for the match! Killarney team won, but it was tight to the very end. They were playing a team from Cory. Our guide had his nose broken three times while playing as a youth; but he said it wasn’t nearly as dangerous as soccer!

Ronan was the youngest son of a large family and came to Northern Ireland to attend the university much to the dismay of his family. He majored in Economics and is now working full time in the tourist industry while studying for a doctorate in Political Science. His wife is an O’Sullivan. (son of one eye) His name is Ronan (Little Seal) MacNamara (of the sea).

Cost to thatch a roof of a cottage is now 20,000 pounds and insurance is much higher. Now only the wealthy can afford to do what was once a sign of poverty! There are lots of golf courses but only the largest ones will allow golf carts due to the softness of the land. So nearly everyone on the golf course is walking! We enjoyed a lovely dinner in the hotel again tonight. Sat with Stuart from Australia, he lives twenty miles from the “Crocodile Man” of TV fame. Grant, a bachelor from Naples, Florida, also sat with us. Then we had our sisters and brother-in-laws along with the sisters from Michigan and New York; a lively group. John told us the history of his Irish family!

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