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On Friday 22nd of February, four teachers and 37 LC2 students set off from Castleknock CC to travel to Derry. The students are studying Politics and Society in Northern Ireland as part of their LC course and therefore this trip was of enormous benefit to them.
Our first tour was of the Museum of Free Derry in the Bogside. The exhibits and the curator, a brother of one of the victims of Bloody Sunday, told a harrowing tale of the events of that day. We held rubber, plastic and live bullets and also saw the bloodstained NICRA banner along with items of clothing belonging to the victims.
After this, we were brought on a tour of the Bogside. We saw all the gable wall murals and our guide explained the stories behind each one. We assembled at Free Derry Corner for a photo and we also visited the memorials to both Bloody Sunday and the 1981 Hunger Strike.
Our third tour of the day was to the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall. We were shown a very informative DVD about the Siege of Derry and the Apprentice Boys organisation. Then we toured the building, which also houses meeting rooms for the Orange Order and the Black Preceptory. We were taken up to the roof which affords splendid views of the city. Our guide was very interesting, friendly and funny. Then it was time to check into the Everglades Hotel and feed the starving masses! We spent a very pleasant night there.
Our last tour was the following morning and this was a walk around the walls. It is hard to pick which of the tours was the best but this was a strong contender. Everyone paid rapt attention to our guide who, as a local historian, knows everything about the city and its surroundings. Every gate in the wall tells a different story, some involving a very amorous bishop called Harvey! We revisited the Bogside and also looked down into the Fountain.
Back onto the bus and home! I think this trip is a must for students studying Northern Irish history. It really brings the Troubles to life. And it is fascinating and uplifting to see how the citizens of that lovely city are working together to present it as a very worthy holder of the City of Culture title. Well done to NST for organising a fabulous trip.