Londonderry or Derry, Donegal and Yeats at Drumcliff: Trip Notes

Londonderry or Derry was the scene of a lot of internecine strife during “The Troubles” between the Loyalists and the IRA.The only more signs of it now are the painted (actually, repainted) wall posters – the size of houses – in the Bogside district and some bullet and bomb blast scars on a few buildings.  You’ll also see some security fences that date back to that time.

One of the best ways to shoot these huge wall posters is to walk around the city walls (on the battlements) and use a long lens to bring the paintings in.  It’s also a great way to explore Derry.  A mid-morning shoot provided good light and the central area within the walls is quite small, so orienting yourself is relatively easy.

Don’t miss the stained glass windows in the Guildhall (just outside Shipquay Gate).  Go inside and be careful not to overexpose – I used a -1 EV compensation but YMMV.

I had relatively limited time in Derry, but you could easily spend a day there and find plenty to shoot, even on a superficial level.

Donegal is a pleasant place for a brief stop, around lunch, as there are plenty of places to eat (try the Abbey Hotel coffee shop and the Donegal special sandwich, with prawns and smoked salmon).  You can visit the castle, but be sure to walk down by the river behind the castle for some interesting shots (and a bit of peace and quiet!).

The grave of the renowned Irish poet, W.B. Yeats, is a simple and somewhat unspectacular grave next to the church in Drumcliff.  Yeats wanted to be buried “under Ben Bulben….”, but actually this bulky, flat-topped mounain looks better before you get to Drumcliff, if you’re coming from Donegal;  its great green upward sweeps are specially impressive.  Outside the churchyard is a statue of a squatting man, crouching over an inscription from a poem by Yeats, “…tread quietly, for you tread on my dreams”.  Tricky shot, I stood on a bench and used an ultra-wide angle, maybe a partial would be better.

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