Northern Ireland has a history of struggle against the Protestant English and the Catholic Irish. These struggles come off best in the town of Londonderry/Derry.
Originally settled as ‘Doire,’ the Irish equivalent of ‘Oak-tree,’ when this city was taken over by the English they renamed the city ‘Londonderry.’ With the River Foyle cutting the city in half, only the mainly Protestant Riverside continue calling it Londonderry, as the mainly Catholic City side refer to it simply as ‘Derry.’
An area of particular interest to people visiting Derry is the Bogside, located on the City side of the river. The Bogside was home to the worst fights during the Troubles including the Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday during the 60s and 70s. Local artists have since transformed the sides of Bogside homes into mural memorials to remember those who have fallen, and they also have a gallery only a minutes walk from the Bogside.
Free Derry corner is perhaps one of the most recognisable political murals in Northern Ireland. Free Derry was a area which declared itself as autonomous and Nationalist after a run-in with the police force (remember, the police force are unionist and as Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, they are bound by British law.) The members of Free Derry built barricades, armed themselves and refused passage to the police force. It was a local activist named John ‘Caker’ Casey whom painted the original Free Derry sign. After 3-days the members relented and let police pass, but tensions continued to mount which led to the Battle of the Bogside, and much more of the political unrest which did exist in Derry.
I had the privilege to visit this city and, as nieve as it sounds, was astounded that such a western country still considers bombs going off a ‘norm.’ I had some really interesting talks with the NIPS (Northern Ireland Police Service) and look forward to sharing more of this gorgeous city.
This Travel Bug Tuesday picture is a teaser for the upcoming photo essay about Northern Ireland’s Political Murals.