Well, I?ve reviewed the restaurants, I think it would be rude of me not to tell everyone of the city I?m so fond of! I don?t live in Derry (although I live quite close) but I went to Magee College there, and still visit my ?fella? there at least once a week, so I shall tell you all of this beautiful place. ??In my memory, I will always see, the town that I, have loved so well?? © Phil Coulter Derry/ Doire/ Londonderry- the city so good they named it thrice! Delete name as appropriate depending on which political belief you hold is Northern Ireland?s second city. (I assume they made a mistake with the first one: Belfast.) It goes by several nicknames- ?the Maiden City? or even ?Stroke City? (Stroke City is due to politicians calling it Derry-stroke-Londonderry? and not any medical condition!) *** DISCLAIMER!!!*** I will state from the beginning that I do not intend to write a political review. Recently I?ve read so many inaccurate views of this country, misinformed and at times uneducated, and in many cases at least 5 years out of date. I want to promote my country for its good parts. The past is precisely in the past. British Army checkpoints on the Irish/Northern Irish border have not existed for over ten years. Bomb Scares are no more frequent than in any other part of the UK, and in twenty-two years I have never experienced death or injury to any person I?ve known through political unrest. For the record, mainland UK is more dangerous than here at the moment, since it is currently on terrorist bomb alert- not Northern Ireland. So never let the word ?troubles? put you off coming here. The media is to blame for the hype. Northern Ireland has a lot going for it, and the troubles are a part of the rich culture, and have created strong identities. But ultimately, they are behind us. *** LET?S START THE TOUR*** So, back to Derry and a short explana
tion of the town itself. Derry is located on both banks of the river Foyle. One side is termed ?the Waterside? and when you cross the bridge you cross over to ?the Bogside? although, the Bogside is actually just one residential area of the city. As a city, Derry is compact enough that you can walk to any location within a few minutes, the main difference in cities in Ireland, and other European cities is that because everything is so close together there is no need for an underground or metro system. The distance between the Waterside and The City Side is merely 1.5 miles and a pleasant walk over the Craigavon Bridge, should you wish. Both sides have their attractions, the Waterside being more business and residential orientated, while the cityside is crammed with Shops, hotels, and restaurants. *** WHERE THE TOURIST SHOULD SEE *** Derry?s Walls are it?s primary attraction, so are a definite must-see. It?s a good way to take in the layout of the city, as you get to see it from all angles. I would suggest that you do this on a dry day though. As it?s quite a long walk, and like any place, Derry is much more attractive when the sun shines! The walls are free of charge, and are in top-class condition. They have a rich history that is documented on little billboards along the walk. Call into the Tower Museum on your way past- it?s built into the walls. Millennium Forum: This is built almost into the walls too and is the city theatre, They have a good variety of national plays and shows on throughout the year, so it?s worth ringing up to book tickets. The forum is very plush, and quite new. It also has conference facilities if you are on business. Tel: (028) 71264455 Political Murals: Yes, I know I said that this wouldn?t be a political review, but these really are worth seeing! Art is very strong in the city, and some of Northern Ireland?s most recognisable images are remembered forever on the gables of houses in the ol
d flash-point areas. Visit the Bogside, see ?Free Derry Corner? as it was in the 1970s, look at the murals, and read what they commemorate. Usually they commemorate the slaughter of innocents. They aren?t trophies of a bloody war, they?re touching tributes to children caught in cross fire, or invasions of the homes of old people. When you visit the Bogside, make sure to visit an area such as ?The Fountain? or cross to the Waterside and visit ?Bond?s Street.? See how similar both sides were? how they represented their fears through art. How they paid tribute to their lost loved ones. I guarantee you will be moved with emotion. Be mindful of what you say to locals, if you?re not fully aware of the facts, for the wounds still hurt. But you are in no danger. That is a promise. Have a bit of Craic! Craic is an ancient Irish word, meaning ?chat.? It?s almost becoming a universal term, and it?s one you?ll hear time and time again. So visit the bars for the craic! I?ve suggested a list, and I?ve included an age range: this isn?t formal, but it might give you an idea of where might suit you best! Ohm they?re all very different in terms of music, crowd etc? 18-30 age group: Strand Bar, The Metro, Earth/ Café Roc, The Carraig, Bound for Boston, Bar Zu, Sugar, Gweedore, The River Inn, and Pepe?s, the gay bar in the town is also a great little place. 25-50 age group: Cosmopolitan, Jackie Mullen?s, Downey?s Bar, Sandinos, most little corner pubs are also great for this age group, and as students we go to a little bar called ?The Argyle Arms? at the back of the city, near the Uni: it?s great! There are loads of traditional little bars, which also cater for older folks as well: there are hundreds of places you can go in the town! And lots of the little traditional bars are reputedly haunted! It?s worth asking the bar men! *** THE SHOPS *** Increasingly, Derry is overtaking other towns as being one of Northern Ireland
?s best shopping destinations. On the city side there are two shopping centres: The Richmond Centre: Internacionale, Holland and Barrett, Mexx, New Look, Morgan, MK One, The Gadget Cube, Yellow Moon, Bay Trading Co, and the Chinese Health Shop are some of the better stores in this centre. Foyleside Shopping Centre: Debenhams, Marks and Sparks, Etam, River Island, Dolcis, Dunnes, Next, Eason, McDonalds, and Thorntons are the better shops in here. As well as this, outside the centres the streets are lined with stores such as Bennetton, Kookai, French connection, Boots, superdrug: the list goes on! Craft Culture is rich in the city too, and a little place called ?the Craft village? is worth taking a look at: it is styled like an old Irish Village and has most of the old-time skills such as crystal making, key cutting, shoe repairing and clock repairing are included within it?s cobbled streets. It really is quite pretty. *** MY ADVICE*** My main piece of advice would be to wear flat shoes! Derry is situated on a lot of hills. It apparently also holds one of the steepest streets in Europe- Fountain Hill! I?m not sure if this is fact, but a lot of people are afraid of that street when they?re driving! The people here are friendly, and the hotels are very good, they?re also quite new, as with the troubles behind us, we look to the future, and welcoming people to our pretty town. You?re all more than welcome to come: flights are cheap so no excuses- we even have our own airport! Wow! I?m exhausted after thinking so much!
My mum comes from Derry so I've spent a lot of time there over the years. However, this is really the first time I've seen it from a tourist's point of view. My husband and I decided to go over and stay with my Aunt for a long weekend to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. My Aunt stays on the banks of the Foyle just 10 minutes walk from the city centre. I think one of the things I like most about Derry is that the city centre is very compact so everything can be reached on foot. I've always found Derry a good base for visiting other towns and villages round about and the bus station on Foyle Street offers a good selection of day trips to various places including Knock Shrine, Dublin, the Donegal Highlands and Portrush where you'll find the Giant's Causeway. Derry, itself, is a very picturesque little city with several tourist attractions including the Harbour Museum, The Amelia Earhart Cottage and the Workhouse Museum which are all free entry. We visited the Tower Museum near the Guildhall, located just inside the 17th century walls of the city. It cost £4.30 to get in and it took us about 2 hours to get round all the exhibits, which included a short film about the history of Derry. I found the sections illustrating the famous Seige of Derry and the road to partition the most interesting in the museum. The Derry Tourist Information Centre on Foyle Street organises guided walking tours of the walled city throughout the year costing £4.00 and lasting an hour and a half, approximately. When the tourist office opened in September, 1997, we were lucky enough to be in Derry at the time to take advantage of the free walking tours they had organised to celebrate its opening. One of these included a Ghost Tour in which we were led around the city walls and through underground tunnels at night by a guide dressed as a town cryer. His historically based ghost stories were fascinating, so much so that the crowd fo
llowing him increased from 20 or so initially and finished with about 100. During our stay we went on a short cruise of the River Foyle starting at the Quayside and sailing as far as Colmore Point. The boat, the 'Toucan One' was extremely comfortable with a small bar selling drinks and snacks. The journey lasted for an hour and cost £5 each. At night they do longer sailings for £10 a head. As for the nightlife in Derry there are so many good bars and nightclubs in the centre of town that I couldn't possibly mention them all. In the tourist village, half way down Shipquay Street there is a good little restaurant called Thran Maggies where they have an Irish Ceilidh every Thursday night and during the day, at lunch time, they have free live entertainment. If you're looking for some shopping bargains the Richmond and Foyleside shopping centres house a variety of stores. Derry's a great place to go for a short break and since Go Airlines and Easyjet have started doing really cheap flights to Belfast (only an hour and a half from Derry) starting from £12.50 single (inclusive of taxes) there's really no excuse for not going.
Derry is one of the longest continuously inhabited places in Ireland. The earliest historical references date to the sixth century A.D. when a monastery was founded there, but for thousands of years before that people had been living in the vicinity. These 'prehistoric' people left traces of their existence in the various archaeological sites and objects which often come to light in this area. The name Derry derives from the old Irish word Daire meaning an oak grove, particularly an oak grove on an island totally or partly surrounded by water or peat bog. Such was the case at Derry. The original oak grove which gave its name to the city and the various settlements which followed it, were all located in turn on a small hill which was formerly an island in the River Foyle. The channel which swept past the western side of that island gradually dried out leaving a marshy, boggy area. In time this area became known as the Bogside. It is now one of the best known areas of the city. Oak groves were sacred places for the Celtic peoples who once lived over most of Western Europe. 'Oak' placenames occur frequently throughout the continent, as well as in Britain and Ireland. This reflects both the widespread nature of the ancient oak forests, and also the important position these trees occupied in the culture and ceremonial of the Celts. Derry was almost certainly one of those Celtic ritual places. The taboos and superstitions about the trees of Derry, which survived down to the sixteenth century, clearly hint at the pre-Christian religious significance of this island hill. In the sixth century A.D. a Christian monastery was founded on the hill of Derry. The site was allegedly granted by a local king who had a fortress there. A similar kind of fortress can be seen at the spectacular Grianan of Aileach, a few miles west of the city and now in County Donegal. According to legend the monastery of Derry was established by the great Irish
saint Colmcille/Columba (521-597). Colmcille founded many important monasteries in Ireland and Britain, including Durrow in the Irish midlands and Iona on an island off the west of Scotland. The claim that he founded Derry is less certain, although that monastery definitely belonged to the federation of Columban churches which looked to Colmcille as their spiritual founder and leader. The monastery of Derry would have been quite small at the beginning. The location of the first church was probably where the beautiful little Church of Ireland Chapel of St Augustine stands today. During the later middle ages the old monastery of Derry evolved into an Augustinian congregation. The church of that monastery survived up to the seventeenth century and was used, as their first place of worship, by the London colonists who came here to build the walled city. St Columba's 'Long Tower' is another very important Derry church. It was the first Catholic church erected in the city after the momentous events of the reformation and plantation. It is decorated in a brilliant neo-Renaissance style. Built originally in 1784, St Columba's occupies the precincts of another of Derryls famous medieval churches the Tempull Mor or Great Church. This was built in the 1160's at a time when a reasonably large township had grown up around the ancient monastery. The Tempull Mor served as the cathedral of the Diocese of Derry throughout the middle ages. Like the distinctively Irish round tower of the same period (hence 'Long Tower'), which stood nearby, all traces of the Tempull Mor disappeared in the seventeenth century. Although the Vikings certainly sailed up the loughs and rivers of this area, the monastery of Derry escaped the worst effects of their raids. Derry's medieval heydays were in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries when the local Mac Lochlainn dynasty moved into the settlement. Under their patronage, Derry prospered: the population g
rew; the monastery and its school thrived; and prestigious buildings were erected. With the decline of the Mac Lochlainns, some of whom claimed to be kings of all Ireland, Derry also sank into unimportance. The famous skeleton on the city's coat-of-arms is said to depict the association with another aristocratic family, the Norman de Burgos, who built their great fortress at Greencastle at the entrance to Lough Foyle. They briefly owned part of Derry in the early fourteenth century and may well have been planning to build a new town there. Instead, the settlement declined in significance. When the local O'Doherty family built a castle in Derry for their overlords the O'Donnells, probably around 1500, it may well have been thought that a new beginning was about to be made. The recently-built O'Doherty Tower is a modern attempt to commemorate that medieval association. Throughout the second half of the sixteenth century, Queen Elizabeth I's military leaders tried to conquer the province of Ulster, the only part of Ireland still outside English control. The English first came to Derry in 1566 but the garrison established there at that time lasted only a few years. A second, more successful garrison returned in 1600 during the 'Nine Years War' against the Gaelic O'Neill and O'Donnell earls. On this occasion the English managed to hold on to Derry and, when the war came to an end in 1603, a small trading settlement was established and given the legal status of city. In 1608 this 'infant city' was attacked by Sir Cahir O'Doherty (a previous supporter of the English in Ulster), and the settlement was virtually wiped out. This attack came about shortly after the so-called 'flight of the earls' when the O'Neill and O'Donnell chieftains, together with their principal supporters, fled to the continent, leaving Gaelic Ulster leaderless. The new king in London, James I, decided on a revol
utionary plan designed once and for all to subordinate Ulster. The 'Plantations in Ulster' required the colonising of the area by loyal English and Scottish migrants who were to be predominantly Protestant in religion, unlike the Catholic Irish. One part of this colonisation was to be organized by the ancient and wealthy trades' guilds of London. The new county granted to the Londoners and its fortified city, built on the site of the recently destroyed settlement, were renamed Londonderry in honour of this association . The city of Londonderry was the jewel in the crown of the Ulster plantations. It was laid out according to the best contemporary principles of townplanning, imported from the continent (the original street lay-out has survived to the present almost intact). More importantly, the city was enclosed by massive stone and earthen fortifications Derry was the last walled city built in Ireland and the only city on the island whose ancient walls survive complete. Among the city's new buildings was St. Columb's Cathedral (1633). This is one of the most important seventeenth century buildings in the country and was the first specifically Protestant cathedral erected in these islands following the Reformation. The new city was slow to prosper. By the 1680's it still had only about 2,000 inhabitants; and yet it was, by far, the largest town in Ulster. Along with most parts of Britain and Ireland, the city suffered from the upheavals in the 1640's. In 1649 the city and its garrison, which supported the 'republican' Parliament in London, were besieged by Presbyterian forces loyal to the King. Among its most famous citizens in the second half of the seventeenth century was George Farquhar, one of the so-called Restoration dramatists. On April 18 1689, James came to Derry and summoned the city to surrender. The King was rebuffed and actually fired at by some of the more determined defenders. As a policy ot no sur
render' was confirmed, the Jacobite forces outside the city began the famous Siege of Derry. For 105 days the city suffered appalling conditions as cannonballs and mortar-bombs rained down, and famine and disease took their terrible toll. Conditions for the besiegers were no better and many thousands of people died, both inside and outside the walls. The cannons used to defend the city can be seen on the walls and at other places around the city. Finally at the end of July, a relief ship broke the barricading 'boom' which had been stretched across the river, near where the new Foyle Bridge now stands. The Siege was over but it has left its mark on the traditions of the city to the present day. The city was rebuilt in the eighteenth century with many of its fine Georgian style houses still surviving. George Berkeley, Ireland's most important philosopher, was Dean of Derry (1724-33), and another well-known and eccentric cleric, Frederick Augustus Hervey, the Earl of Bristol, was Bishop of Derry (1768-1803). It was Hervey, the so-called Earl Bishop, who was responsible for building the city's first bridge across the Foyle in 1790. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the port of Derry became an important embarkation point for Irish emigrants setting out for America. Some of these founded the colonies of Derry and Londonderry in the state of New Hampshire. By the middle of the nineteenth century a thriving shirt and collarmaking industry had been established here, giving the city many of its fine industrial buildings. Four separate railway networks emanated from the city, the interesting history of which can be examined at the Foyle Valley Railway Centre. In 1921, with the partition of Ireland, Derry unexpectedly became a border city. Amelia Earhart gave the city a much needed boost when she landed here in 1932 becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her connection with the city is reflected in a display
at the Amelia Earhart Cottage at Ballyarnett. In more recent times the city has become known worldwide on account of the 'troubles'. Less well-known is its reputation voted by the Civic Trust in London as one of the ten best cities of its kind to live in, in the United Kingdom. Derry is an old, beautiful city, set in a surrounding landscape of unparallelled natural beauty and diversity. It also has an unparallelled wealth of history.