8:09 P.M. July 4, 2012
I must admit, there is something lovely about being out of country on the 4th. Today we made our way North to County Donegal, where Lauren's maternal line is rumored to be from. We're outside the little town of Ramelton (population ~1000), and tonight was the annual "float race" down the river Liemmon - a race with the most ridiculous 4 person crafts possible...very Missoula, very fun.
Though parts of County Donegal are farther North than Northern Ireland, Donegal was not included in Northern Ireland because it is overwhelmingly Catholic, and Britain did not want a Catholic majority in Northern Ireland. It feels a bit like being in a border town…there are strong feelings just below the surface, but unlike Derry or Belfast, people aren’t declaring their politics with flags or murals so it’s a bit harder to know which way a conversation might go. Last night Lauren and I found ourselves in a pub with some locals, talking about the recent historic handshake (see June 27th post) between the Queen and McGuinness…while the three folks I was talking to argued about who did or did not see that coming, and whether things were or were not significantly improved, a woman told Lauren with tears in her eyes that “they are still strip searching and beating Republicans in the jail down the road.”
For the next few nights we are staying at a B&B owned by a lovely couple, Mervyn and Claire. He’s English and she’s Belgian...we have yet to talk about what has drawn me here, and I’ll be interested to hear their perspective. In the meantime, we are taking in lots of castles, mystical places, sheep, and –finally- sun.