Peace Bridge (25 June 11)

Friday, August 19, 2011

18 Aug: Portrush, trip 2

Michael Palin included the train ride from Derry to Coleraine in his BBC series "Great Railway Journeys of the World," saying, “A train journey to the North Coast will be an unforgettable experience. Whether you live in Northern Ireland or are visiting, take the opportunity to visit and enjoy the beautiful scenery." M and I took the trip as the first part of our trip to Portrush yesterday. We started our day with a walk along the beach. There were surfing students and a few swimmers. But the water was cold and M and I were content to just to get our feet wet. Then we had an early lunch on the patio at the White House department store.

We spent the afternoon at Barry's Arcade. When we went to Portrush in June, Northern Ireland schools hadn't let out for the summer and I wondered if Portrush and, especially Barry's, would be more crowded now. There were definitely more people around town and in the arcade, but it didn't feel overly busy.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

15 & 16 August: Enniskillen and the Ulster American Folk Park

M and I spent Monday night in Enniskillen, in County Fermanagh. Our first stop was Florence Court, an 18th century manor house and grounds, just south of Enniskillen. The weather was beautiful and we decided to skip the house tour and walk the grounds. We liked seeing the old Icehouse and old sawmill. The first Irish yew trees were discovered on Florence Court grounds and grafted to other trees to spread the species around Ireland. We like thinking that we saw the great-grandma Irish yew.

After a couple of hours at Florence Court, we drove into town and checked into our hotel. After dropping our bags in our room, we walked into the center of town and visited Enniskillen Castle and museums. M enjoyed learning about the castle's history and following their History Detective trail. The original castle building dates from 1420, with other buildings added in the 1700s and 1800s.

We had dinner at the hotel's bar and breakfast in the restaurant before starting off Tuesday morning. We drove back toward Derry with a long stop at the Ulster American Folk Park. The Folk Park has an exhibit on Irish Emigration to the US and buildings dating from the 19th century in both Ireland and the US. The trail starts with rural Irish houses with volunteers in period dress acting as a blacksmith, a weaver, and a baker. We liked watching the blacksmith work on making a pair of tongs and tasting the soda bread. The next houses are actual homes owned by the Mellon family, before they emigrated to the US. This family went on to found Mellon Bank in Pennsylvania. There is a replica Irish town, with a shipyard and a replica of a sailing ship that emigrants would have taken to the US. After walking through the ship and out the other side, the next buildings are replicas of a US town. The last houses are replicas of the first houses owned by the Mellons upon arriving in PA and a home owned by an Irish immigrant in West Virginia.

We arrived back in Derry mid-afternoon and were glad to see Steve at dinner and share our adventure with him. Today we've stayed at home and started to get things ready for the movers, who come Monday. I can't believe that by this time next week, we'll be on a plane to the US. The summer has flown by!

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

13 Aug: Greencastle and Magilligan

We drove through Inishowen again yesterday. We started the trip with lunch at Harry's in Bridgend. Then we drove to Greencastle, named for the 13th century castle ruins, which are covered now with green moss. We took a ferry across Lough Foyle to Magilligan, UK. We walked around the Martello tower and beach in Magilligan. M and I went to a small aviation museum. The museum's owner gave us a brief tour. We read about Antarctic explorer and Ireland native Ernest Shackleton and Amelia Earhart, who ended her transatlantic flight in Derry. A short drive through Greencastle and tea in Moville rounded out the trip.

Meanwhile, back in Derry, the annual Apprentice Boys' Parade took place. We were glad to have missed it, as there were a few clashes between police and demonstrators. From the Wikipedia article: "The Apprentice Boys of Derry is a Protestant fraternal society with a worldwide membership of over 80,000, founded in 1814. ... The Society aims to commemorate the 1689 Siege of Derry when Catholic James II of England and Ireland and VII of Scotland laid siege to the walled city which was at the time a Protestant stronghold. Apprentice Boys parades once regularly led to rioting in the city by Nationalist youths, but recently a more conciliatory approach has taken place and now the parades are virtually trouble free."

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Friday, August 12, 2011

8-12 Aug: FAI Camp

It's M. I had a soccer camp in Muff. Muff is in County Donegal. I got a football and my second sun watch and my full Ireland kit/uniform (right). The camp was very fun. I played in goal 3 times (below). We learned a type of fake shot called the Crove Turn. We also practiced heading. They had a Champions League, League of Ireland and World Cup. Here are the teams I played for and what place we came in: in the Champions League, Liverpool (1st) Athletico Madrid (2nd), and Inter Milan (4th), in the World Cup, Nigeria (4th), and in the League of Ireland, Derry City!! (3rd).

It is especially cool that I played for Derry City because we are going to see them tonight (Aug 12). I am going to wear my Candystripes jersey.

Monday, August 8, 2011

7 Aug: Belfast

After a great night's sleep and a yummy breakfast at the Camera Guesthouse, we headed out to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museums, which are located in the same park. We walked through the Transport Museum first. M enjoyed the kids' TITANICa trail. Steve and I enjoyed seeing the Penny Farthing bicycle and old cars but also shared a laugh that the two most notable vehicles to come out of Belfast were the Titanic and the de Lorean. I'm probably not going to invest in whatever the next one they plan. :)

After the Transport Museum, we drove to the Folk Museum, which is a re-creation of an Irish town of about 100 years ago. M and I liked seeing the old school and M used the abacus at the school to practice his arithmetic. We also watched a weaving demonstration and read about the history of the police in Northern Ireland.

Our last stop of the weekend was the World of Owls, a volunteer-run owl sanctuary west of Belfast. M likes owls lots and enjoyed seeing all the different species. I especially liked watching the large Eagle Owl and the little Burrowing Owl. I think the Burrowing Owl was Steve's favorite.

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6 Aug: Belfast

We left Derry early Saturday morning for a weekend of sightseeing in Belfast. We dropped our bags at the Camera Guesthouse and walked into the city. Our first stop was St George's Market, an indoor market with food and craft stalls. I picked up some curry sauces to bring home and M enjoyed a cupcake as a snack, but soon we were all hungry for lunch.

We walked to Victoria Square Mall and had lunch at Wagamama. During lunch, M, Steve, and I took turns playing the National Flags Quiz on my phone. M knows his flags better than Steve or I do. After lunch we walked up to the top observation level at the mall (M says he counted 112 stairs!) and looked out over the city. I still wanted to look at the crafts at St Georges, so we walked back to the market.

We walked back to the guesthouse to drop off the curry sauces. Then we headed to the Ulster Museum, which has galleries on Irish history (from a British point of view), geology, zoology, and the "Troubles," the period of conflict in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s-1990s. The musuem is located in the Botanic Gardens and we enjoyed a walk through the park.

We went to Deanes at Queens for dinner. I especially enjoyed my risotto and meringue that Steve and I shared for dessert. After dinner we headed back to the Botanic Gardens so M could play in the playground. Finally, at about 9, we walked back to the guesthouse and everyone was ready for bed.

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1-5 Aug: IFA St. Columb's

Hi. It's M. My camp at St. Columb's was very fun. We were in the Derry Journal!! Some of the boys were also at Old Clondermott (4+me in my group). I liked the drills. When we tried to shoot through the hoops, no one did it! I scored 2 goals, 1 on shooting practice day and 1 in the World Cup.

Coming up next week...