[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Cross-Cultural Program: Ireland and Northern Ireland 2001
Group Journal Sept 11 - 17

HomeJournalsLinksWebteamMapsOld Site
  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
  Oct 8-16 MP Oct 17-24 MP Oct 25-31 MP Nov 1-8 MP Nov 9-17 MP **
  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

This day began with another visit by Peter Pyne; this time his lecture focused on the history of Derry, or Londonderry. We
Derry/Londonderry at Night
Derry/Londonderry at Night
followed the city from its origins in the century following the birth of Christ and went on to learn of its life as a monastic settlement c.565-1570 A.D. and its growth as a plantation town filled with Scottish and British settlers in the 1600's. We were also reminded of its various sieges and battles, then learned of Derry's economic prosperity in the 1800's, which came from making shirts, ships and whiskey and then we continued into the 1900's when life became filled with bombs and daily gunfire in the streets. The people of Derry are, despite the hundreds of years of struggle against various internal and external foes, kind and hospitable.

We truly felt their warmth later in the day when we received news of the terrible events in the United States. We had just returned to our hostel following the morning session when we saw the TV behind the desk and heard that the World Trade Center had been hit by an aircraft. We
Tin whistle class
Learning how to play the Tin Whistle
thought it had been a terrible accident until we learned that another plane had hit the second tower. A group of us was to tour the Tower Museum, furthering our knowledge of Derry. Towards the end of that tour, a museum guide informed us that the centers had collapsed and the Pentagon had been bombed. We rushed back to the hostel to watch in horror, weep, pray and hold each other as the dreadful news continued to spread across the TV screen. Many of the group have friends and family in those areas and we immediately began to try to call home. This was a time of real bonding in our group as we shared our fears and concerns.

As the day (and the week) progressed, each time we were recognized as Americans - at dinner, on the street, in the bank - people were swift to offer their condolences and offer their kind wishes to us. Jason Blake told the story of a man who, when he discovered Jason was an American student, simply threw his arms around him and hugged him. We felt that if we had to be away from the United States as this happened, it was a comfort to be in a country that understands terrorist attacks. The people of Northern Ireland have lived with terrorism in their midst since 1969, and their sympathy for us was warm and genuine.

The day finished with lessons on the tin whistle; we felt we needed to continue with our schedule to give us some sense of normality. Following that, many waited until 2:00 a.m. to hear President Bush speak on the television before heading to bed.



Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Despite our
The group outside the Guildhall
The group outside Guildhall with the mayor
constant sorrow over Tuesday's attack, we continued with our regular day's scheduled events, the first of which was to meet the mayor of Derry at the Guildhall (city hall). Mayoress Mildred Garfield was welcoming and friendly to us, offering her condolences for yesterday's horrible tragedy. We sat in the council
Anne and Gloria get a gift from the mayor
The mayor presents a gift to Anne and Gloria
chamber and heard her speak about running the city, then she took our questions before offering us tea and scones (that's pronounced scawns, not scohnes!).

Following this, we were permitted to sit in the public hearings concerning the events that took place on January 30, 1972, better known in Derry as Bloody Sunday. On this date, British soldiers killed 13 people during riots, the origins of which remain controversial. The inquiry into what exactly happened that day has continued for the past two years. We heard a man testify to being caught in teargas as he ran through the neighborhood where the rioting was taking place. As several students and Gloria left the inquiry, a Bloody Sunday survivor, still suffering from injuries received almost thirty years ago, came up to them to offer sympathy and understanding. The group was very touched by this, that people who have undergone so much violence still have the capacity to pity and reach out to others.

The Guildhall council chamber
Inside the council chamber

The afternoon was filled with a class and discussion time with Anne and Gloria, and THEN... time to meet the host families! Having grown tired of hostel life, the students were ready to move into the homes where they would stay until we leave Derry on September 29. The Bogside families met their students and Gloria at the hostel, and Anne rode the bus over with the Waterside students to meet their hosts. All the families were very welcoming and off everyone went to their first night in an Irish home.




Thursday, September 13, 2001

Mervyn Love met with us in the morning to fill out the forms necessary for our health coverage while in the UK. This took quite a bit of time, and Mervyn spent the rest of the morning telling us about recent political events in Northern Ireland.

Following a break for lunch, we had our second Irish cultural lesson with Clare at the Verbal Arts Centre. We greeted her in Irish, exchanged various "hello, what's your name, goodbye" phrases and counted to ten. When that seemed fairly secure in our minds, we progressed to longer phrases. From there, we were up on our feet learning more dance steps. Those watching enjoyed it nearly as much as those dancing! It was the warmest some in the group have been since coming to Derry.

At the end of a very rambunctious class, we staggered out into a cool, rainy afternoon and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and evening as free time.



Friday, September 14, 2001

Today was declared a National Day of Mourning across Europe. While businesses in Northern Ireland weren't closed for the whole day, as in other countries, the entire town observed three minutes of silence at 11:00 a.m. This was incorporated into a
Jess becomes a celebrity
Jess being interviewed by a reporter
memorial service outside the Guildhall, which many of our group attended. The service itself was short and simple, yet very moving. We again felt the love and sympathy from those around us. We also were reminded that many British and Irish were among those missing in New York... his tragedy affected many more worldwide than those at home might realize. While there, it was noticed that we were Americans, and a few of us were interviewed for TV or
The moment of silence
The crowd at the Guildhall service
newspapers. The media here are very interested in hearing our reactions to the attack, although students have occasionally been misquoted in various articles.

The afternoon was again spent learning Irish and dancing. It looks so light and carefree when you watch it, but it's an excellent form of exercise that had even our strong guys panting for breath at the end of the quick dances. Actually, some of the language makes us feel that way, too! Clare informed us that her seventy-four-year-old father dances regularly and can wipe up the floor with her (or words to that effect!).

The evening was left free for various pursuits; many of us met up at the cinema, seeing several different films. The Fast and the Furious won the vote for best of the evening, while Moulin Rouge was considered hilarious (not the filmmakers' intention, we think) and Planet of the Apes left the viewer wanting a bath and a refund of the ticket price.



Saturday, September 15, 2001

This was a day that combined sightseeing and history lessons. We loaded the bus early and headed for Omagh. The first stop was the Ulster History Park, which "traces the history of settlement in Ireland from the time of the first people to arrive here,
A tomb at the Ulster History Park
The Ulster History Park
nearly 10,000 years ago, through to the seventeenth century A.D." (taken from the Park's brochure). There are full-scale models of houses, megalithic tombs, a monastic settlement and many other sites set throughout the beautiful landscape of the park. One begins in the Mesolithic camp and circles through the park until arriving at a plantation settlement from the 1600's. It's a
Round tower
The round tower in the monastic settlement at the Ulster History Park
wonderful way to grasp the history of the region, especially with guides June (the Scottish talker!) and Beryl, while enjoying the brisk, windy weather.

Following lunch in the Park's café, we journeyed on to the Ulster-American Folk Park. There we celebrated the birthdays of Jason Blake and Jason Yoder with song and biscuits (cookies to you Americans...) around a picnic table before entering the museum. The Folk Park tells the story of emigration to North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As we walked through the park, we were able to enter original homes and buildings brought from around Ireland; these included cabins, churches, shops and barns. There was a reconstruction of a "coffin ship", one of the vessels which took hundreds of emigrants to America, through which we walked to "get to the New World". It was interesting to see their creation of pioneer American cabins and farms. Some of us even tasted their cornbread and apple butter... not quite like the kind at the Virginia Relief Sale, but very good!

We arrived back in Derry around tea-time (dinner time) exhausted from the walking but feeling very knowledgeable about the development of Irish civilization over the last 10,000 years. Not bad for a Saturday!



Sunday, September 16, 2001

More travel today, this time into the Republic of Ireland. We'd gone over the border briefly last week, but the entire day today was spent in the county of Donegal. We returned to Grianán of Aileach, the circle fort, to have our worship time together. It was a great idea, and we enjoyed singing and hearing scripture outside in that beautiful setting, but the wind chill was probably below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, so it was a quick service.
Worship at Grianan
Worship at Grianán of Aileach
We continued on to Fahan with our guide, University of Ulster Scots Irish lecturer Dr. Billy Kelly. He showed us an extremely old stone cross and a shipwreck monument in the Fahan churchyard. Following a quick lunch in a chip shop, we headed on to the Inishowen peninsula. We stopped at Dunree Fort, a military installation overlooking Lough Swilly, which was built in 1798 to counter the threat of French invasion; it now houses a military museum (which is closed on Sunday). Some of the students attempted to give their leaders heart palpitations by climbing down on the rocks by the crashing waves, but all returned safely to the bus to travel on to our final stop of the day.

This last place was by far the most impressive yet, said some of the group. We went to Malin Head, the northernmost point of Ireland. Malin Head is a cape that juts out into the
Irish coastline
The Irish Coast at Malin Head
Atlantic, with howling winds, thundering surf and spectacular views. At the highest point stands Banba's Crown, a tower built in 1805 to monitor shipping. This is also the site of the earliest Marconi antenna, which sent the radio signals of Europe across the ocean to North America. We were in awe of the magnificence of God's creation as we stood facing into the freezing wind, watching the waves on the rocks and beach below us.

We returned to Derry, many of us asleep on the return trip, exhausted and invigorated by a day spent in the beautiful Irish countryside. A free evening enabled us to do assignments, visit with host families and SLEEP!



Monday, September 17, 2001

George Glenn spoke to us this morning on what it means to him to be a Protestant living in Londonderry... note the name difference. He works with the Churches' Voluntary Work Bureau, bringing Protestant and Catholic young people together to train for jobs, both here in Ireland and abroad. George has also done a lot of work with the physically and mentally handicapped of Derry. It was interesting to hear his views of the city and its people.

At noon, those who were feeling spórtúil (that's Gaelic for sportive) played each other in soccer. Drew Roynon even played with some Magee students in a second match... go, Drew!

In the afternoon, Anne and Gloria had class with the students. We reviewed the history covered over the weekend and discussed current Irish social issues. This ended a very full day, and having the free evening hours to unwind was greatly appreciated.


Please sir, could I have some more pictures?
More Pictures...

HomeJournalsLinksWebteamMapsOld Site
  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
  Oct 8-16 MP Oct 17-24 MP Oct 25-31 MP Nov 1-8 MP Nov 9-17 MP **
  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)