Having been out in the wilds of Donegal for the last week and a half, and far far away from even my laptop, I have missed out on a few things I will be trying to pull in over the next few posts. It is hard to maintain a sense of perspective on the news as it hits each day. Long term progressions get missed as the sensations of violence or impending political crises hit the headlines, or dominate the concerns of the key opinion-formers.
Yesterday we sauntered along the historic walls of Derry (or if you insist, Londonderry). Last time I did that it was in the early 70s, when the sky was buzzing with military surveillance and you could nearly have eaten the atmosphere with a knife and fork. Yesterday, the Bogside looked relaxed, even the Bishop Street interface with the protestant Fountain area and scene of some of the worse fighting in 69, seemed no more remarkable than any inner city area of Dublin or Manchester.
The only noise was the quiet dismantling of the army post beside the former First Derry Primary school. No sign of the tension on the workers faces there undoubtedly would have been when the base was last fortified, when they would have been considered ‘legitimate targets’ by many in the housing developments below the walls. There is now a well worn tourist trail, with the city’s Irish identity well to the fore inside the walls, as well as without.
It maybe that Derry is a litmus for where the rest of Northern Ireland is heading. I don’t know, but I hope to spend some time back there to find out from some people closer to ground than me.