Alas, I cannot take credit for the pun in this post’s title. I saw it on the side of the Visitor Centre and was most delighted to find this town to be as keen on paranomasia as myself! Beyond playing with words, the people of Derry seem to enjoy playing with music, theatre, dance, folklore and craft. Culture is big here!
After so many years of trouble, the people here are beaming with pride over their city. You hardly meet any native who doesn’t glow. We won the “Ulster in Bloom” competition for the city category. There is no question that the flowers have rightfully earned that title. See below:
We were the City of Culture in 2013. And just last night was the annual Culture Night, when the city came alive with free events ranging from Irish dance to video game tournaments. Sadly, it was the first really overcast day since I’ve been here, but it didn’t rain!
I began the evening by visiting Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, an Irish culture and music centre. There, I and seven of the international students enjoyed locally sourced food samples from the cafe while listening to classic Irish music.
From there, we went to “Bedlam” – a sort of small, vintage “mall.” An advertisement for the place had read that we would be “crazy not to come in” (again, pun not original). We did not wish to be branded as such, so to Bedlam we went! Once we made it past the entrance, bedecked with an enormous knitted quilt, we (the girls) were enchanted by the rooms of antiques, retro and vintage goods. If you know me well, you’ll know I was delighted by the 1940s hats and dresses…what fun!
There was also a tiny book shop filled to the ceiling with books and antique typewriters. Having never used such a machine, I finally wrestled out a small paragraph. It is not quite as romantic an implement as I expected, and if nothing else, I am now all the more thankful we have laptops.
The perfect word for Bedlam is “cute”…in other words, the boys got antsy, so we moved on.
I rounded out my evening with a delightful Club Caberet show at the local Playhouse. In the intimate little theatre, I was serenaded by tunes of the 1930s and 40s, including “What a Wonderful World,” “As Time Goes By” and “Cheek to Cheek.” A lovely couple sitting behind me introduced themselves at intermission. They said they had heard my “accent” and were dying to know where I was from (I still feel like laughing when people say that.) We chatted a bit and they invited me to the bar with them after the show…not quite my cup of tea (pint of Guinness?), but a friendly gesture all the same. What a city.