The morning was filled with building my reading list byway of Niamh, our tour lecturer on The Troubles between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and Mary Mulvey an ecotourism advocate. These lectures are integral to understanding the places that we visit as well as the historical signifiance and context of many points of interest. The guest speaker, Mary Mulvey, has a long history of working with many Irish communities, businesses and county councils to create viable, sustainable and culturally significant ecotourism ventures. Both lectures were engaging and deepened my perceptions of Irish history and its future economic prospects.
Tomorrow's journey will include a visit to Derry or Londonderry (both are acceptable names) and the mural art that depicts The Troubles and the slowly growing peace and reconciliation of the two countries. The murals are massive (about forty feet tall) and serve as objects of art to document memorials, points of conflict and the transition to peace. The video above contains examples from a couple of years ago. I will post updated murals in my next post.
Learning about this history of The Troubles has taken on new meaning since much of my exposure came from creative film renderings like The Wind that Shakes the Barley and The Boxer. Although these films were made by Irishmen, the backstory is always vital to understanding the sentiments exhibited in these films. Niamh's lecture helped to provide this very necessary backstory. The slides of her presentation not only clarified these historical points but also gave a vantage point concerning the motivations of the many uprisings throughout Irish history including the pivotal 1916 Easter Rising and its revolutionizing outcome -- the execution of its leaders at Kilmainham Gaol/Jail.
Horse Riding along the Donegal Coast
For the afternoon a small group of us decided to go horseback riding instead of kayaking or a ropes course. We were not disappointed, it was a beautiful afternoon spent riding along the coast in the sand dunes of Donegal Bay. The Donegal Equestrian Center was equipped with beautiful Irish horses. My horse was named Misty and she was a small filly that was curious and not a fast mover.
As we rode along the coast and viewed the bay, Mullaghmore (a distance castle), and the wildlife--flora, fauna and animals including cows, others horses and wild hares jumping across the pastures it was great to see the area from the vantage point of horseback. The sand dunes were filled with windflowers not commonly found along the coastal walking paths.
It had been several years since I've been on the back of a horse and this was another one of those lucky encounters in Ireland when things came together in order for us to have this unique experience of horse riding along a waterfront.