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Craft Village

By Elizabeth Collins

Though our time in Ireland has ended I find myself reliving the memories already as I tell my family and friends of the wonderful time I spent in Derry. One story in particular I have told a few times but when I was in Ireland did not blog about so I thought I would share.
While in Derry we were continuously taken back by how open, enjoyable, and talkative the people are. I visited a shop in the “Craft Village” a few times and found myself chatting with the owner each time I visited. Craft Village is a beautiful little area full of specialty shops selling handmade crafts and cafes serving food and drinks. The woman started off by welcoming me to Derry and asking how my stay had been so far. In no time we were chatting about the place that she had grown up, what living through The Troubles had been like for her, her views on people coming together, the artist’s work in her shop, and more.
The woman described growing up in a small town about fifteen minutes outside of Derry; a place where the Protestants live right next to the Catholics. Neighbors are friends and the children grow up together regardless of faith. She can remember during the height of the troubles a few acts of violence that occurred in her community. However, she said after those few attacks everyone in the community came together for the funerals. They mourned together and then decide that the violence could not continue. The families in this town were friends; they had grown up together and raised their children together. She said thankfully it only took a couple incidents for the community to come together.
Her store front doesn’t have a flashy name or sign but inside are little treasures crafted by people of different faiths and backgrounds – all Northern Ireland residents. In this little store there is handmade jewelry, photography, paintings, statues, and more. The owner proudly told me about one of the artists that sells his things in her shop; a South African man that now calls Derry home. She spoke to me about a Christmas card display that was in her shop in December and how she offered cards that said Derry as well as cards that said Londonderry. She told me about starting her store up and having to get old furniture anywhere she could to put the treasures on because she could not afford to buy new shelves; now she is slowly redecorating.

The woman didn’t want her picture taken, but happily offered to let me take pictures of her shop. She did not have a computer or a business card but offered to take down my email address so that in the event that she knew anyone that would be an asset to our learning in Derry she could point them in my direction. She was one of many open books that I had the pleasure to meet while I was in Derry. I am so thankful to have heard her story.

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