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Published: June 20th 2017
Geo: 54.9976, -7.32062
Belfast Day 3 (April 1)
The day was spent on a side trip to
Derry (or Londonderry in Protestant circles) which is about two hours
from Belfast by bus. This is the city where the infamous “Bloody
Sunday” massacre took place on January 30, 1972. Approximately
10,000 Catholics were participating in a civil rights march modeled
after the marches they had seen taking place in America’s South.
British paratroopers were hidden along the parade route and, for
whatever reason, open fired on the marchers. Twenty six marchers were
shot by the troopers of which fourteen died. Two marchers were run
down by army vehicles.
The jumping point for this day was
Guildhall (010) – an impressive building at the center of the city.
While waiting for the tour guide to appear I went inside the building
for a look around. There was an exhibition titled “The Plantation
of Ulster” which contributed a lot to my understanding of the
situation in Ireland. The word “plantation” brings up images of
farms in the pre-Civil War south which were tended by slaves.
However, there is another definition for this word: “colonization”.
Starting in the 1600s the English government began sending Protestant
colonialists from England and Scotland to Ireland; these folks seized
the lands that belonged to the Gaelic speaking Catholics thereby
becoming the massa’s
of Irish plantations.
The tour guide, Paul Doherty, showed up
and we started walking towards Bogside which is a nearby Catholic
neighborhood. We walked the route that the 10,000 marchers took in
1972. Along the way are twelve striking murals painted by the Bogside
Artists. I have posted photographs of four of them: (1) The Death of
Innocence which depicts a 14 year old school girl who was shot by a
British soldier in 1971 when she went out to the street to pick up a
rubber bullet as a souvenir; (2) The Petrol Bomber; (3) Operation
Mongoose that depicts a soldier about to smash a door with a sledge
hammer; and (4) The Saturday Matinee that depicts a boy facing down a
British armored car. (020, 030, 040, 050)
Mixed in with the large murals were
other posters and memorials such as the large “H” which honored
the prisoners held in H block of Maze Prison. (060, 070, 080).
We walked the route that the 10,000
marchers took on January 30, 1972. British paratroopers were hidden
behind a wall overlooking the route (090), and they fired at the
marchers. At one spot along the route (100) my guide described how
his father, Patrick Doherty, was shot and killed by British troops on
Bloody Sunday. It was heartbreaking to hear
his story. There is a
famous photograph of his father’s body stretched out on the street
while one of his friends crawled to help him. Again out of respect
for copyright law and my desire not to wave photographs of dead
persons in your face I am enclosing a link to where you can see these
images if you wish:
Nearby is the Bloody Sunday memorial
and informational displays (105, 110, 120). Guide Paul Doherty is
shown in one of these photographs.
At the end of the tour I walked back to
the station to catch my bus back to Belfast. Along with way back I
stopped at the studio of the Bogside Artists and chatted with one of
the persons who painted the murals. Then I came across a store front
that provided services to former IRA prisoners and combatants (130).
Finally I stopped and looked at the exhibition at the Museum of Free
Derry which depicted the events leading to, through, and after Bloody
Sunday (140, 150).
I walked past the Guildhall and
remembered the words of Paul Doherty. After Bloody Sunday there was
an inquiry by the British government which ended up being a
whitewash. Then in 1998 there was another inquiry that was completed
in 2010. This one concluded that all of the victims were innocent
were engaged in peaceful activities. Twenty thousand Derry residents
gathered at Guildhall and cheered when British Prime Minister David Cameron apologized on national television for what happened on Bloody
Since I had some time before my bus
would arrive I walked over to the Peace Bridge that spans the River
Foyle. This is a pedestrian bridge that was completed in 2011 and
which connects the central square of the Protestant district, on side
of the river, with Derry’s central district, which is Catholic, on
the other side. This bridge was intended to bring the two communities
together. I walked over the bridge, looked around, and walked back to
catch my bus. (160)
That concluded my political tour of
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