Derry and the Giant’s Causeway

Today I spent the morning in Londonderry or Derry as the Irish call it. I came specifically to see First Derry Presbyterian Church. My ancestor, Robert Craighead was minister here from 1690 until his death in 1711. The church is not usually open on a Thursday, but I called over and the caretaker agreed to meet me. He spent an hour walking me through the church, talking about the history and recent renovations to the church.
Derry is a city still trying to recover from the violence and death prevalent in Northern Ireland in the 70’s and 80’s. The song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 was written about the killing of 12 protesters.
The church suffered numerous attacks during the violence including arson that left significant fire damage. For a time the church was barricaded behind barbed wire fencing and cinder blocks.
Derry is much more peaceful now. I walked around on top of the city walls which date from the 17th century and across the Peace Bridge which was completed this year and is a symbol of the new Derry.
In the afternoon I drove up the north coast of Ireland. My first stop was Dunluce Castle and then it was on to Carrick-a-Rede swinging bridge. The bridge, used by local fisherman, hangs precariously over the sea between the headland an a nearby island. (My brother, Scott, would love it- not! Typically you can cross it, but it was too windy and rainy today.
Finally it was on to the Giant’s Causeway, a World Heritage Site. The basalt columns look like poured concrete pages. Local Irish tradition says that va Giant, Finn McCool built a causeway between here and Stars, Scotland. The ends, here and in Stars are all that remain.

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