The Story of the Peace Process – full day itinerary:
We begin our guided tour in the Guildhall, the city hall and location of both the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday and of President Bill Clinton’s landmark speech on his first peace process visit to the city in 1995. The Guildhall, bombed extensively during the conflict, is now a model of power sharing where the local mayoralty is rotated between republicans, nationalists and unionist representatives during each council term. Explore its many stained glass windows which chronicle the history of the city and also meet some of the representatives of the local government who will outline the positive changes that have taken place in the last twenty years as a result of the peace process.
After a quick refreshment break we continue to the Bogside to visit the Museum of Free Derry which chronicles the origins of the Civil Rights Movement, the Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday. Staffed by relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday, you will have the opportunity to meet family members who will be able to explain how the Saville Inquiry has cleared the names of their relatives, thus removing one of the running sores that existed in the city since 1972. The museum will also visually provide the context for the escalation of the conflict in the 1970’s which the peace process has been designed to remedy.
Following your visit to the museum your guide will take you on a tour of the Bogside and Creggan. Whilst he/she will of course explain the story behind some of the seminal murals and monuments in the area, you will also hear the reasons for the peace process from the republican perspective.
The tour then takes in sites such as Lumen Christi college (where Nobel peace laureate John Hume was educated) and the streets of residence for both John Hume (where some of the secret talks between Hume and Gerry Adams took place in the early days of the peace process) and Martin McGuinness.
You will also see the graves of two of the 1981 Hunger Strikers where your guide will explain how Bobby Sands election brought republicans into electoral politics which helped to sow the seeds of the peace process.
Lunch – Gasyard Centre:
The large restaurant at the Gasyard Centre (once used as a base by the British Army but now the key community building in the Bogside) also houses the Gasyard Heritage Centre which includes a chronology of the Prison Story (including rare artefacts smuggled out of the H-Blocks during the 1981 Hunger Strikes) and the Story of the Peace Process Exhibition which tells the story of the Peace Process from both loyalist and republican perspectives.
The exhibition includes audio-visual interviews with people from both sides of the community who were involved in various aspects of the peace process over the last twenty years. At the Gasyard you will also have the opportunity to meet former prisoners and key republican negotiators who were all involved in the discussions which led to the republican ceasefires and subsequent peace agreements.
Following lunch we proceed to the Apprentice Boys Siege Museum which relates the seminal events of the 1689 siege. The siege had massive implications for the island of Ireland and the wider political map of Europe and is celebrated annually by the Apprentice Boys who march Derry’s walls annually to remember the heroism of those who defended the city in 1689. Your visit also includes an opportunity to meet with those Apprentice Boys who were involved in negotiations to resolve the dispute between themselves and the residents of the Bogside surrounding the route of the march, an agreement which is now held up as a model of good practice in dealing with marching disputes.
Next door we visit 1st Derry Presbyterian Church to meet with Reverend David Latimer whose ground breaking talks with Martin McGuinness are seen as a model for further contact between representatives of the unionist and republican communities.
We finally proceed to the Fountain Estate, the only remaining unionist working class community on the west bank of the river. Your guide will explain both the decline of the unionist population in the city during the conflict but also the positive impact of recent cross-community projects between the Fountain and the republican Bishop Street area.
Although both areas remain divided by a peaceline (erected at the height of the conflict to separate the two areas) improved relations have seen a reduction in tensions which has allowed a number of residents to develop attractions and tours of the area. You will have the opportunity to visit both the Fountain Heritage Tower and the Thiepval Gallery where you will meet with members of the unionist community who were involved in a number of peace process initiatives which saw reduced incidents at the peaceline, the resolution of the marching issue and the persuading of loyalist armed groups to participate in the peace process.
Your day ends with a meal in one of the city’s many first-class restaurants where you will have the chance to dine with people from both sides of the community who played their own part in the peace process. Following your meal you can enjoy traditional Irish and Ulster-Scots music and dancing at one of the city’s numerous cultural venues to end your busy day on a high!Follow us on: