Well, we may be in Ireland, but die-hard Vikings fans were still able to see that amazing (American) football game last night. This allowed for lighter subject matter heading into a heavy full day in Derry. An early morning Bloody Sunday walking tour exposed us to the personal side of the Troubles. Our guide, John, had been in the streets as a young lad and witnessed the murder of many friends. He worked for many years as an IRA member before deciding to dedicate his life to community engagement and peace efforts. Just ten minutes into our tour, a friend stopped John in the street. In the square where the shooting happened, his eyes glazed over as he recalled the whistling bullets and clouds of smoke he saw. The walls now replicate the sound of the crowd singing as they entered the square. The surrounding buildings feature large murals as a reminder to never forget that day in Bogside. Now better acquainted to Derry, the rain did not deter us.After our informative walk, we split up for lunch. Some of us chose Sandwich Company while others headed to the local grocery store we have come to love, Tesco.
We met again in the afternoon to dive into the personal stories of men and women involved in the conflict. Derry Playhouse allows victims, survivors, and perpetrators of the Troubles to come forward and share their stories. We were lucky enough to meet Kathleen, James, Robin, and Ann. A widow who lost her husband following a kidnapping and bomb, a former paramilitary terrorist, a police officer, and an ex-IRA member, each had a story. I think we were all so captivated we did not even notice the time as it flew by. The group asked questions on ethics, current peace, and community outreach. These storytellers hope to heal both themselves and those around them, so that their children might understand what happened but never let it happen again.
On a bit of a lighter note, there was plenty of time for some fun photos, walks on the river, and a bit of shopping. Now, waiting out the rain, the group is looking forward to a day-long tour of Donegal tomorrow. We hope to see Glenveagh National Park and an old fortress built high on a hill used to look for invaders.