Derry or Londonderry? Which ever name you choose to use, this city on the northern coast of Northern Ireland is an incredible place to visit due to its historical significance, heritage and friendly folk.
Derry is the only city in Ireland that remains completely walled. Built between 1613 and 1618 by The Honourable The Irish Society , the giant defense mechanisms and thought to be some of the finest ever built in Europe. In length they stretch a whopping 1.5km, in width they vary between a hefty 12 and 35ft. Pretty solid! … and that was their job, to provide defence for early 17th century settlers from England and Scotland. Some job they did too, as Derry is one of the few cities in Europe that never saw its walls breached. As a result Derry is also known as The Maiden City.
Derry Religious Segregation
The fact that the city is refered to some as Derry and others as Londonderry owes to relgion. As you can see from the map below provided by www.irelandstory.com , there is a pretty clear divide between relgions in the city. Catholics living on the west side of the river Foyle aka ‘cityside, and Prodestants on the east side which is also known as ‘Waterside’.
- Derry – Nationalists / Catholic
- Londonderry – Unionists / Protestant
The view from the Derry city walls
I was lucky enough to visit Derry whilst on a roadtrip around Ireland in 2010. Along with a few friends, we decided part with £4 each and book on a walking tour of the city walls with Martin McCrossan City Tours. We booked through the Derry tourist information centre and on the wall hung a picture of Will Ferrell taking his won tour. If it was good enough for Will, it was good enough for us. We had made the right choice!
Led by our jolly and informative guide, we actually walked along the walls as they provide a rather excellent promonade (similar to that of the Dubrovnik old town in Croatia) which allows you to walk around the entire old town and cross over its four original gates. Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate, as well as the slightly newer Magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate, making seven in total. We were told stories of Bloody Sunday, the cities collection of restored cannons and of Bogside.
Bogside is a neighborhood within the cityside of Derry. It is famous for its mural covered houses that can be viewed from the city walls. The ‘City Gallery’ as it is known was created by the Bogside artists. The Bogside Artists were a trio of artists from Derry – Tom Kelly, his brother William Kelly, and Kevin Hasson. The Peoples Gallery is located on Rossville Street, which houses a total of 12 murals, painted between 1994 and 2008.
Bogside is a major Catholic area, but sits next door to a major Protestant neighborhood. Unsurprisingly, there is a history of trouble between the two areas, specifically between the Fountain estate and Bishop Street.
Long before I bought a GoPro I used a point and shoot camera to shoot a small series of videos whilst making my way around Ireland. Not sure I have a future in presenting, but they were fun to make. The below gives you an idea of what we experienced in Derry on and tour, and a little bit of Donegal too.