SPC Tour of Ireland – Day 7

March 30, 2016

SPC Tour of Ireland -“ Day 7

Another long day of travelling greeted our touring party on Wednesday as we headed further north from Galway bound for Derry (also known as Londonderry).

En route, we were able to enjoy a couple of quick stops while also enjoying the ever-changing but always spectacular Irish countryside.

Our first break for morning tea saw us arrive at the town of Knock which is home to the famous Knock Shrine and a majestic and highly modern basilica.

The Knock Shrine, in County Mayo, has become a site for Catholic pilgrimage after observers reported an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1879.

Witnesses to the apparition reportedly stood in pouring rain for two hours reciting the Rosary. The site was also home to a visit from Pope John Paul II in 1979 who celebrated Mass there in front of a congregation of around 350,000 people.

The second stop on our journey was a brief lunch break at the town of Donegal before the touring party bade farewell to the republic of Ireland and entered the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland at Derry.

What followed proved to be one of the most historic moments of the expedition to date as we were welcomed on a walking tour of the walled city and were privy to expert guidance through the war torn story of Derry.

From its foundations to its sieges and finally to its modern uprisings which were headlined by the Bloody Sunday riots -“ we were told it all.

We were able to walk along the wall which has encircled the city for 400-plus years, witness first-hand the fences which still, to this day, divide Protestant and Catholic estates and amble through the area known as the Bogside -“ where the Bloody Sunday murders took place in 1972.

While Derry is undoubtedly a town very much in the process of healing following such events, there still exists a palpable sense of unresolved issues.

Following the 90-minute tour, the boys were presented the opportunity to visit the local retail outlets before rejoining as a group for tea in our hotel.

The hotel then encouraged us all to partake in some live Irish tunes in an adjoining room before closing a busy day.