Ireland, Day 13: An Introduction to the North in Derry and Portrush

1185 -Walking tour, Derry

For more on Ireland, see my posts from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, and Day 12.

Going into this trip, I had a lot of preconceived ideas about what Ireland would be like and, after years of reading travel blogs, I also had a long list of places and things I wanted to see. But when it came to Northern Ireland, I had almost no idea what to expect. Northern Ireland was simply not a place I knew much about, save for hearing a few bad stories on the news. Perhaps heading north without any clear expectations was a good thing, as I was pleasantly surprised by just how awesome I found Northern Ireland to be.

We left Westport and traveled north but, before crossing the border, we made a quick stop at the grave of W.B. Yeats (which also happens to be home to a rest stop). We spent a half hour or so stretching our legs, wandering through the graveyard, and peeking into the church, which featured a pretty mural over the altar and a gorgeous organ in back.

1140 -WB Yeats gravesite

1142 -WB Yeats gravesite

1144 -WB Yeats gravesite

1146 -WB Yeats gravesite

We climbed back onto our bus and, at last, made our way into Northern Ireland! Our first stop was the town of Derry, and our first stop within Derry was the Bogside neighborhood, a Catholic area and home to many events during The Troubles. The Bogside’s political murals were one of the most striking and memorable things I saw during this trip.

1153 -Murals, Derry

1157 -Murals, Derry

1158 -Murals, Derry

Ireland - edited

1160 -Murals, Derry

From the staunch Catholic neighborhood, we headed to a staunch Protestant one. It was fascinating to see the streets immediately change to being decked out in the red, white, and blue of the Union Jack; even the curbs were painted to reflect loyalist pride.

1166 -Walking tour, Derry

1170 -Walking tour, Derry

While on our morning walk through Derry, we saw a mingling of both present and past. We caught glimpses of the modern day in the town’s colorfully decorated streets (in celebration of Derry hosting a music festival, The Fleadh), but we also encountered the past as we walked the city’s old walls, built in the 1600s.

1161 -Walking tour, Derry

1164 -Walking tour, Derry

1172 -Walking tour, Derry

1179 -Walking tour, Derry

After lunch, we wandered across the Peace Bridge, an EU-funded project built in 2011. The bridge was quite futuristic and offered lovely views of the Foyle River and Derry itself.

1186 -Peace Bridge, Derry

1191 - Peace Bridge, Derry

1189 -Peace Bridge, Derry

1192 -Peace Bridge, Derry

1194 -Peace Bridge, Derry

As mentioned above, Derry was hosting a music festival while we were in town. While there were “professionals” all around the city, we also walked by quite a few budding young musicians. Adorable!

1196 -Kid musicians, Derry

From Derry, we drove to Portrush, a lovely seaside resort town. Before heading to dinner, we took a quick walk along the water. I mentioned before how the blues and greens of Ireland blew me away in Dingle, but I think these colors were even richer in the north – the blues especially.

1203 -Around Portrush

1197 -Around Portrush

1202 -Around Portrush

1204 -Around Portrush

We also stumbled upon a small garden which had an interesting variety of flowers. These were a few of my favorites:

1208 -Around Portrush

1209 -Around Portrush

1215 -Around Portrush

1210 -Around Portrush

1212 -Around Portrush

For dinner, we ate at our restaurant’s hotel, the Counties Restaurant & Bar. There, I had the most decadent entree: a goat cheese and onion tart. I’ve written countless times about my goat cheese salad obsession while in Ireland, but this was on a whole other level. It was rich, gooey, and oh-so-delicious.

1218 -Dinner in Portrush

What better way to cap off a day in Northern Ireland than a glorious, goat-cheese-induced food coma, am I right?!

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4 thoughts on “Ireland, Day 13: An Introduction to the North in Derry and Portrush

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