An Unexpected Encounter

On the day before we left Northern Ireland, we made a trip into Londonderry. It was the scene of some violence with IRA bombings and there continue to be marches all of the time. We were even told by a waiter that we shouldn’t go as it was the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral and there were some negative feelings towards her in Northern Ireland. I don’t understand all of the politics of it other than some people want independence from England. There also seems to be some unpleasant things going on between the Catholics and Protestants. We weren’t up for a long walk in the city so we decided to take a tour by taxi. Our driver turned out to be a member of the IRA and told us all sorts of things about all that had gone on during the violent time including he and his brother getting shot at with rubber bullets by the English soldiers. He even pulled one out and showed us-it was much larger than I thought it would be. He seemed to think that the peace brokered by President Clinton some years back would probably hold but was fairly negative about the climate in Northern Ireland. I wondered if we had gotten another driver, if we would have heard the English side of the story. Looking back on it, Londonderry had a rather sad air and a feeling of not thriving although there was a mall that we saw, full of people.

One of the graves of 14 killed during “Bloody Sunday”. I thought the shot through a raining taxi window sort of fitting.

A U.S. flag from 1945 in the church there, St. Columb’s. Note there are only 48 stars. The volunteer there, when hearing I was from Texas, said, “You’ll like that flag in there then. Alaska isn’t represented, thus Texas is still the biggest state.”

I love the Irish accent. I did a video of our waiter just to record his voice. We had been in Londonderry the day before-a city once full of conflict and bombings and which still seems to be recovering-and I asked him his opinion mainly to get him talking.

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