Derry facts for kids

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Derry/Londonderry
  • Scots: Derrie/Lunnonderrie
  • Irish: Doire/Doire Cholmcille
  • Maiden City
DerryMontage3.JPG
From top, left to right: Austin's Department Store, Derry's Walls, Free Derry Corner, Peace Bridge across the River Foyle, a view of Derry at night, Diamond War Memorial, 'Hands Across the Divide' sculpture
Coat of arms of Derry.png
Vita Veritas Victoria
"Life, Truth, Victory"
(Adapted from a decoration on the Craigavon Bridge)
Derry/Londonderry shown within Northern Ireland
Population Derry
85,016 
Urban
93,512 
Metro
237,000 
2008 est.
Irish grid reference C434166
District
  • Derry and Strabane District Council
County
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDONDERRY
Postcode district BT47
BT48
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament
  • Foyle
NI Assembly
  • Foyle
Website www.derrycityandstrabanedistrict.com
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
County LondonderryCoordinates: 54°59′45″N 7°18′27″W / 54.9958°N 7.3074°W / 54.9958; -7.3074

Derry (/ˈdɛrɪ/), officially Londonderry (/ˈlʌndənˌdɛrɪ/), is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name Daire (modern Irish: Doire) meaning "oak grove". In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and gained the "London" prefix to reflect the funding of its construction by the London guilds. While the city is more usually known colloquially as Derry, Londonderry is also commonly used and remains the legal name.

The old walled city lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, which is spanned by two road bridges and one footbridge. The city now covers both banks (Cityside on the west and Waterside on the east). The population of the city was 83,652 at the 2001 Census, while the Derry Urban Area had a population of 90,736. The district administered by Derry City and Strabane District Council contains both Londonderry Port and City of Derry Airport.

Derry is close to the border with County Donegal, with which it has had a close link for many centuries. The person traditionally seen as the founder of the original Derry is Saint Colmcille, a holy man from Tír Chonaill, the old name for almost all of modern County Donegal, of which the west bank of the Foyle was a part before 1610.

In 2013, Derry was the inaugural UK City of Culture, having been awarded the title in 2010.

Name

Vandalised road-sign Londonderry P3010060
Road sign in Northern Ireland with the reference to London obscured
Derry Stranorlar N13 roadsign cropped
Road signs in the Republic of Ireland (County Donegal shown) use Derry and the Irish Doire.

According to the city's Royal Charter of 10 April 1662, the official name is "Londonderry". This was reaffirmed in a High Court decision in 2007 when Derry City Council sought guidance on the procedure for effecting a name change. The council had changed its name from "Londonderry City Council" to "Derry City Council" in 1984; the court case was seeking clarification as to whether this had also changed the name of the city. The decision of the court was that it had not but it was clarified that the correct procedure to do so was via a petition to the Privy Council. Derry City Council since started this process and were involved in conducting an equality impact assessment report (EQIA). Firstly it held an opinion poll of district residents in 2009, which reported that 75% of Catholics and 77% of Nationalists found the proposed change acceptable, compared to 6% of Protestants and 8% of Unionists. Then the EQIA held two consultative forums, and solicited comments from the general public on whether or not the city should have its name changed to Derry. A total of 12,136 comments were received, of which 3,108 were broadly in favour of the proposal, and 9,028 opposed to it. On 23 July 2015, the council voted in favour of a motion to change the official name of the city to Derry and to write to Mark H. Durkan, Northern Ireland Minister of the Environment, to ask how the change could be effected.

Despite the official name, the city is more usually known as "Derry", which is an anglicisation of the Irish Daire or Doire, and translates as "oak-grove/oak-wood". The name derives from the settlement's earliest references, Daire Calgaich ("oak-grove of Calgach"). The name was changed from Derry in 1613 during the Plantation of Ulster to reflect the establishment of the city by the London guilds.

The name "Derry" is preferred by nationalists and it is broadly used throughout Northern Ireland's Catholic community, as well as that of the Republic of Ireland, whereas many unionists prefer "Londonderry"; however in everyday conversation Derry is used by most Protestant residents of the city. Linguist Kevin McCafferty argues that "It is not, strictly speaking, correct that Northern Ireland Catholics call it Derry, while Protestants use the Londonderry form, although this pattern has become more common locally since the mid-1980s, when the city council changed its name by dropping the prefix". In McCafferty's survey of language use in the city, "only very few interviewees—all Protestants—use the official form".

Apart from the name of Derry City Council, the city is usually known as Londonderry in official use within the UK. In the Republic of Ireland, the city and county are almost always referred to as Derry, on maps, in the media and in conversation. In April 2009, however, the Republic of Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, announced that Irish passport holders who were born there could record either Derry or Londonderry as their place of birth. Whereas official road signs in the Republic use the name Derry, those in Northern Ireland bear Londonderry (sometimes abbreviated to "L'Derry"), although some of these have been defaced with the reference to London obscured. Usage varies among local organisations, with both names being used. Examples are City of Derry Airport, City of Derry Rugby Club, Derry City FC and the Protestant Apprentice Boys of Derry, as opposed to Londonderry Port, Londonderry YMCA Rugby Club and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. Most companies within the city choose local area names such as Pennyburn, Rosemount or "Foyle" from the River Foyle to avoid alienating the other community. Londonderry railway station is often referred to as Waterside railway station within the city but is called Derry/Londonderry at other stations. The council changed the name of the local government district covering the city to Derry on 7 May 1984, consequently renaming itself Derry City Council. This did not change the name of the city, although the city is coterminous with the district, and in law the city council is also the "Corporation of Londonderry" or, more formally, the "Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Londonderry". The form "Londonderry" is used for the post town by the Royal Mail, however use of Derry will still ensure delivery.

The city is also nicknamed the Maiden City by virtue of the fact that its walls were never breached despite being besieged on three separate occasions in the 17th century, the most notable being the Siege of Derry of 1688-89. It is also nicknamed Stroke City by local broadcaster, Gerry Anderson, due to the 'politically correct' use of the oblique notation Derry/Londonderry (which appellation has itself been used by BBC Television). A recent addition to the landscape has been the erection of several large stone columns on main roads into the city welcoming drivers, euphemistically, to "the walled city".

The name Derry is very much in popular use throughout Ireland for the naming of places, and there are at least six towns bearing that name and at least a further 79 places. The word Derry often forms part of the place name, for example Derrybeg, Derryboy, Derrylea and Derrymore.

The names Derry and Londonderry are not limited to Ireland. There is a town called Derry situated right beside another town called Londonderry in New Hampshire in the United States. There are also Londonderrys in Yorkshire, England, in Vermont, United States, in Nova Scotia, Canada, and in northern and eastern Australia. Londonderry Island is situated off Tierra del Fuego in Chile.

Derry is also a fictional town in Maine, United States, used in some Stephen King novels.

City walls

Cannon on Derry City Walls SMC 2007
A portion of the city walls of Derry
Bishops Street Gate Derry SMC 2007
Bishops Street Gate

Derry is the only remaining completely intact walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. The walls constitute the largest monument in State care in Northern Ireland and, as the last walled city to be built in Europe, stands as the most complete and spectacular.

The Walls were built in 1613–1619 by The Honourable The Irish Society as defences for early 17th century settlers from England and Scotland. The Walls, which are approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) in circumference and which vary in height and width between 3.7 and 10.7 metres (12 and 35 feet), are completely intact and form a walkway around the inner city. They provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance style street plan. The four original gates to the Walled City are Bishop's Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate. Three further gates were added later, Magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate, making seven gates in total. Historic buildings within the walls include the 1633 Gothic cathedral of St Columb, the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall and the courthouse.

It is one of the few cities in Europe that never saw its fortifications breached, withstanding several sieges including one in 1689 which lasted 105 days, hence the city's nickname, The Maiden City.

History

St Columb's Cathedral
St Columb's Cathedral

Early history

Derry is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Ireland. The earliest historical references date to the 6th century when a monastery was founded there by St Columba or Colmcille, a famous saint from what is now County Donegal, but for thousands of years before that people had been living in the vicinity.

Before leaving Ireland to spread Christianity elsewhere, Colmcille founded a monastery at Derry (which was then called Doire Calgach), on the west bank of the Foyle. According to oral and documented history, the site was granted to Colmcille by a local king. The monastery then remained in the hands of the federation of Columban churches who regarded Colmcille as their spiritual mentor. The year 546 is often referred to as the date that the original settlement was founded. However, it is now accepted by historians that this was an erroneous date assigned by medieval chroniclers. It is accepted that between the 6th century and the 11th century, Derry was known primarily as a monastic settlement.

The town became strategically more significant during the Tudor conquest of Ireland and came under frequent attack. During O'Doherty's Rebellion in 1608 it was attacked by Sir Cahir O'Doherty, Irish chieftain of Inishowen, who burnt much of the town and killed the governor George Paulet. The soldier and statesman Sir Henry Docwra made vigorous efforts to develop the town, earning the reputation of being " the founder of Derry"; but he was accused of failing to prevent the O'Doherty attack, and returned to England.

Plantation

What became the City of Derry was part of the relatively new County Donegal up until 1610. In that year, the west bank of the future city was transferred by the English Crown to The Honourable The Irish Society and was combined with County Coleraine, part of County Antrim and a large portion of County Tyrone to form County Londonderry. Planters organised by London livery companies through The Honourable The Irish Society arrived in the 17th century as part of the Plantation of Ulster, and rebuilt the town with high walls to defend it from Irish insurgents who opposed the plantation. The aim was to settle Ulster with a population supportive of the Crown. It was then renamed "Londonderry".

This city was the first planned city in Ireland: it was begun in 1613, with the walls being completed in 1619, at a cost of £10,757. The central diamond within a walled city with four gates was thought to be a good design for defence. The grid pattern chosen was subsequently much copied in the colonies of British North America. The charter initially defined the city as extending three Irish miles (about 6.1 km) from the centre.

The modern city preserves the 17th century layout of four main streets radiating from a central Diamond to four gateways  – Bishop's Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Shipquay Gate and Butcher's Gate. The city's oldest surviving building was also constructed at this time: the 1633 Plantation Gothic cathedral of St Columb. In the porch of the cathedral is a stone that records completion with the inscription: "If stones could speake, then London's prayse should sound, Who built this church and cittie from the grounde."

17th-century upheavals

During the 1640s, the city suffered in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which began with the Irish Rebellion of 1641, when the Gaelic Irish insurgents made a failed attack on the city. In 1649 the city and its garrison, which supported the republican Parliament in London, were besieged by Scottish Presbyterian forces loyal to King Charles I. The Parliamentarians besieged in Derry were relieved by a strange alliance of Roundhead troops under George Monck and the Irish Catholic general Owen Roe O'Neill. These temporary allies were soon fighting each other again however, after the landing in Ireland of the New Model Army in 1649. The war in Ulster was finally brought to an end when the Parliamentarians crushed the Irish Catholic Ulster army at the Battle of Scarrifholis, near Letterkenny in nearby County Donegal, in 1650.

During the Glorious Revolution, only Derry and nearby Enniskillen had a Protestant garrison by November 1688. An army of around 1,200 men, mostly "Redshanks" (Highlanders), under Alexander Macdonnell, 3rd Earl of Antrim, was slowly organised (they set out on the week William of Orange landed in England). When they arrived on 7 December 1688 the gates were closed against them and the Siege of Derry began. In April 1689, King James came to the city and summoned it to surrender. The King was rebuffed and the siege lasted until the end of July with the arrival of a relief ship.

18th and 19th centuries

1837Londonderry
Map of County Londonderry, 1837

The city was rebuilt in the 18th century with many of its fine Georgian style houses still surviving. The city's first bridge across the River Foyle was built in 1790. During the 18th and 19th centuries the port became an important embarkation point for Irish emigrants setting out for North America. Some of these founded the colonies of Derry and Londonderry in the state of New Hampshire.

Also during the 19th century, it became a destination for migrants fleeing areas more severely affected by the Irish Potato Famine. One of the most notable shipping lines was the McCorkell Line operated by Wm. McCorkell & Co. Ltd. from 1778. The McCorkell's most famous ship was the Minnehaha, which was known as the "Green Yacht from Derry".

Early 20th century

World War I

During World War I the city contributed over 5,000 men to the British Army from Catholic and Protestant families.

Partition

War memorial Derry 2007 SMC
The war memorial in The Diamond, erected 1927

During the Irish War of Independence, the area was rocked by sectarian violence, partly prompted by the guerilla war raging between the Irish Republican Army and British forces, but also influenced by economic and social pressures. By mid-1920 there was severe sectarian rioting in the city. Many lives were lost and in addition many Catholics and Protestants were expelled from their homes during this communal unrest. After a week's violence, a truce was negotiated by local politicians on both unionist and republican sides.

In 1921, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the Partition of Ireland, it unexpectedly became a 'border city', separated from much of its traditional economic hinterland in County Donegal.

World War II

During World War II, the city played an important part in the Battle of the Atlantic. Ships from the Royal Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, and other Allied navies were stationed in the city and the United States military established a base. Over 20,000 Royal Navy, 10,000 Royal Canadian Navy, and 6,000 American Navy personnel were stationed in the city during the war. The establishment of the American presence in the city was the result of a secret agreement between the Americans and the British before the Americans entered the war. It was the first American naval base in Europe and the terminal for American convoys en route to Europe.

The reason for such a high degree of military and naval activity was self-evident: Derry was the United Kingdom's westernmost port; indeed, the city was the westernmost Allied port in Europe: thus, Derry was a crucial jumping-off point, together with Glasgow and Liverpool, for the shipping convoys that ran between Europe and North America. The large numbers of military personnel in Derry substantially altered the character of the city, bringing in some outside colour to the local area, as well as some cosmopolitan and economic buoyancy during these years. Several airfields were built in the outlying regions of the city at this time, Maydown, Eglinton and Ballykelly. RAF Eglinton went on to become City of Derry Airport.

The city contributed significant number of men to the war effort throughout the services, most notably the 500 men in the 9th (Londonderry) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, known as the 'Derry Boys'. This regiment served in North Africa, the Sudan, Italy and mainland UK. Many others served in the Merchant Navy taking part in the convoys that supplied the UK and Russia during the war.

The border location of the city, and influx of trade from the military convoys allowed for significant smuggling operations to develop in the city.

At the conclusion of the Second World War, eventually some 60 U-boats of the German Kriegsmarine ended in the city's harbour at Lisahally after their surrender. The initial surrender was attended by Admiral Sir Max Horton, Commander-in-Chief of the Western Approaches, and Sir Basil Brooke, third Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Late 20th century

1950s and 1960s

The city languished after the second world war, with unemployment and development stagnating. A large campaign, led by the University for Derry Committee, to have Northern Ireland's second university located in the city, ended in failure.

The Civil Rights Movement

Derry was a focal point for the nascent civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.

Bogside Derry SMC 2005
Bogside area viewed from the walls

Catholics were discriminated against under Unionist government in Northern Ireland, both politically and economically. In the late 1960s the city became the flashpoint of disputes about institutional gerrymandering. Political scientist John Whyte explains that:

All the accusations of gerrymandering, practically all the complaints about housing and regional policy, and a disproportionate amount of the charges about public and private employment come from this area. The area – which consisted of Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh, Londonderry County Borough, and portions of Counties Londonderry and Armagh – had less than a quarter of the total population of Northern Ireland yet generated not far short of three-quarters of the complaints of discrimination...The unionist government must bear its share of responsibility. It put through the original gerrymander which underpinned so many of the subsequent malpractices, and then, despite repeated protests, did nothing to stop those malpractices continuing. The most serious charge against the Northern Ireland government is not that it was directly responsible for widespread discrimination, but that it allowed discrimination on such a scale over a substantial segment of Northern Ireland.

A civil rights demonstration in 1968 led by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was banned by the Government and blocked using force by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The events that followed the August 1969 Apprentice Boys parade resulted in the Battle of the Bogside, when Catholic rioters fought the police, leading to widespread civil disorder in Northern Ireland and is often dated as the starting point of the Troubles.

On Sunday 30 January 1972, 13 unarmed civilians were shot dead by British paratroopers during a civil rights march in the Bogside area. Another 13 were wounded and one further man later died of his wounds. This event came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

The Troubles

Free Derry Corner in 1969
"Free Derry Corner" at the corner of Lecky Road and Fahan Street in the Bogside. The slogan was first painted in January 1969 by John Casey.

The conflict which became known as the Troubles is widely regarded as having started in Derry with the Battle of the Bogside. The Civil Rights movement had also been very active in the city. In the early 1970s the city was heavily militarised and there was widespread civil unrest. Several districts in the city constructed barricades to control access and prevent the forces of the state from entering.

Violence eased towards the end of the Troubles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Irish journalist Ed Maloney claims in "The Secret History of the IRA" that republican leaders there negotiated a de facto ceasefire in the city as early as 1991. Whether this is true or not, the city did see less bloodshed by this time than Belfast or other localities.

The city was visited by a killer whale in November 1977 at the height of the Troubles; it was dubbed Dopey Dick by the thousands who came from miles around to see him.

Geography

OpenStreetMap of DerryLondonderry UK Apr2012
OpenstreetMap mapping
Craigavon bridge
The Craigavon Bridge

Derry is characterised by its distinctively hilly topography. The River Foyle forms a deep valley as it flows through the city, making Derry a place of very steep streets and sudden, startling views. The original walled city of Londonderry lies on a hill on the west bank of the River Foyle. In the past, the river branched and enclosed this wooded hill as an island; over the centuries, however, the western branch of the river dried up and became a low-lying and boggy district that is now called the Bogside.

Today, modern Derry extends considerably north and west of the city walls and east of the river. The half of the city the west of the Foyle is known as the Cityside and the area east is called the Waterside. The Cityside and Waterside are connected by the Craigavon Bridge and Foyle Bridge, and by a foot bridge in the centre of the city called Peace Bridge. The district also extends into rural areas to the southeast of the city.

This much larger city, however, remains characterised by the often extremely steep hills that form much of its terrain on both sides of the river. A notable exception to this lies on the north-eastern edge of the city, on the shores of Lough Foyle, where large expanses of sea and mudflats were reclaimed in the middle of the 19th century. Today, these slob lands are protected from the sea by miles of sea walls and dikes. The area is an internationally important bird sanctuary, ranked among the top 30 wetland sites in the UK.

Other important nature reserves lie at Ness Country Park, 10 miles (16 km) east of Derry; and at Prehen Wood, within the city's south-eastern suburbs.

Climate

Derry has, like most of Ireland, a temperate maritime climate according to the Köppen climate classification system. The nearest official Met Office Weather Station for which climate data is available is Carmoney, just west of City of Derry Airport and about 5 miles (8 km) north east of the city centre. However, observations ceased in 2004 and the nearest Weather Station is currently Ballykelly, due 12 miles (19 km) east north east. Typically, 27 nights of the year will report an air frost at Ballykelly, and at least 1 mm of precipitation will be reported on 170 days (1981–2010 averages).

The lowest temperature recorded at Carmoney was −11.0 °C (12.2 °F) on 27 December 1995.

Climate data for Ballykelly SAMOS (Derry Airport 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.0
(46.4)
8.2
(46.8)
10.1
(50.2)
12.1
(53.8)
15
(59)
17.0
(62.6)
18.9
(66)
18.5
(65.3)
16.7
(62.1)
13.5
(56.3)
10.2
(50.4)
8
(46)
13.02
(55.43)
Average low °C (°F) 2.2
(36)
2.1
(35.8)
3.5
(38.3)
4.8
(40.6)
7
(45)
9.7
(49.5)
11.6
(52.9)
11.4
(52.5)
9.8
(49.6)
7.2
(45)
4.5
(40.1)
2.5
(36.5)
6.36
(43.45)
Precipitation mm (inches) 83.5
(3.287)
62.7
(2.469)
69.8
(2.748)
55.2
(2.173)
51.2
(2.016)
56.1
(2.209)
66.1
(2.602)
75.3
(2.965)
68.7
(2.705)
89.0
(3.504)
86.7
(3.413)
88.4
(3.48)
852.6
(33.567)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 17 13 16 12 12 11 13 13 13 16 19 15 170
Sunshine hours 52.3 72.4 100.9 155.0 202.7 161.4 140.4 141.1 119.6 102.5 57.9 37.7 1,343.9
Source: MetOffice

Demography

Ebrington Square, Derry,
Ebrington Square

Derry Urban Area (DUA), including the city and the neighbouring settlements of Culmore, Newbuildings and Strathfoyle, is classified as a city by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) since its population exceeds 75,000. On census day (27 March 2011) there were 105,066 people living in Derry Urban Area. Of these, 27% were aged under 16 years and 14% were aged 60 and over; 49% of the population were male and 51% were female; 75% were from a Roman Catholic background and 23% (up three per cent from 2001) were from a Protestant background.

The mid-2006 population estimate for the wider Derry City Council area was 107,300. Population growth in 2005/06 was driven by natural change, with net out-migration of approximately 100 people.

The city was one of the few in Ireland to experience an increase in population during the Irish Potato Famine as migrants came to it from other, more heavily affected areas.

Protestant minority

Nosurrender mural derry
"No Surrender" mural outside city wall, taken in 2004

Concerns have been raised by both communities over the increasingly divided nature of the city. There were about 17,000 Protestants on the west bank of the River Foyle in 1971. The proportion rapidly declined during the 1970s; the 2011 census recorded 3,169 Protestants on the west bank, compared to 54,976 Catholics, and it is feared that the city could become permanently divided.

However, concerted efforts have been made by local community, church and political leaders from both traditions to redress the problem. A conference to bring together key actors and promote tolerance was held in October 2006. The Rt Rev. Dr Ken Good, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, said he was happy living on the cityside. "I feel part of it. It is my city and I want to encourage other Protestants to feel exactly the same", he said.

Support for Protestants in the district has been strong from the former SDLP city Mayor Helen Quigley. Cllr Quigley has made inclusion and tolerance key themes of her mayoralty. The Mayor Helen Quigley said it is time for "everyone to take a stand to stop the scourge of sectarian and other assaults in the city."

Landmarks

St Eugene's Cathedral, August 2009
St Eugene's Cathedral
Bishop Street Courthouse, Derry - Londonderry - geograph.org.uk - 174216
Bishop Street Courthouse
Long Tower Church, August 2009
Long Tower Church

Derry is renowned for its architecture. This can be primarily ascribed to the formal planning of the historic walled city of Derry at the core of the modern city. This is centred on the Diamond with a collection of late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian buildings maintaining the gridlines of the main thoroughfares (Shipquay Street, Ferryquay Street, Butcher Street and Bishop Street) to the City Gates. St Columb's Cathedral does not follow the grid pattern reinforcing its civic status. This Church of Ireland Cathedral was the first post-Reformation Cathedral built for an Anglican church. The construction of the Roman Catholic St Eugene's Cathedral in the Bogside in the 19th-century was another major architectural addition to the city. The more recent infill buildings within the walls are of varying quality and in many cases these were low quality hurriedly constructed replacements for 1970s bomb damaged buildings. The Townscape Heritage Initiative has funded restoration works to key listed buildings and other older structures.

In the three centuries since their construction, the city walls have been adapted to meet the needs of a changing city. The best example of this adaptation is the insertion of three additional gates – Castle Gate, New Gate and Magazine Gate – into the walls in the course of the 19th century. Today, the fortifications form a continuous promenade around the city centre, complete with cannon, avenues of mature trees and views across Derry. Historic buildings within the city walls include St Augustine's Church, which sits on the city walls close to the site of the original monastic settlement; the copper-domed Austin's department store, which claims to the oldest such store in the world; and the imposing Greek Revival Courthouse on Bishop Street. The red-brick late-Victorian Guildhall, also crowned by a copper dome, stands just beyond Shipquay Gate and close to the river front.

There are many museums and sites of interest in and around the city, including the Foyle Valley Railway Centre, the Amelia Earhart Centre And Wildlife Sanctuary, the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall, Ballyoan Cemetery, The Bogside, numerous murals by the Bogside Artists, Derry Craft Village, Free Derry Corner, O'Doherty Tower (now home to part of the Tower Museum), the Harbour Museum, the Museum of Free Derry, Chapter House Museum, the Workhouse Museum, the Nerve Centre, St. Columb's Park and Leisure Centre, Creggan Country Park, The Millennium Forum and the Foyle and Craigavon bridges.

The city has seen a large boost to its economy in the form of tourism over the last few years. away, though poorly connected by public transport. Lonely Planet called Derry the fourth best city in the world to see in 2013.

In 2011, on the 25th of June, the Peace Bridge opened. It is a cycle and foot bridge that begins from the Guild Hall in the city centre of Derry City to Ebrington Square and St Columb’s Park on the far side of the River Foyle. It symbolizes the unity of the Protestant community and the Nationalist community who are settled on either sides of the Foyle River. "The Derry Peace Bridge has become an integral part of Derry City’s infrastructure and has changed the way local people use and view their city with over 3 million people having crossed it so far and many of the locals using it daily".

Future projects include the Walled City Signature Project, which intends to ensure that the city's walls become a world class tourist experience. The Ilex Urban Regeneration Company is charged with delivering several landmark redevelopments. It has taken control of two former British Army barracks in the centre of the city. The Ebrington site is nearing completion and is linked to the city centre by the new Peace Bridge.

Peace bridge Derry 2012
Peace Bridge in Derry

Transport

Foyle bridge, railside
The Foyle Bridge showing Derry-to-Belfast rail link

The transport network is built out of a complex array of old and modern roads and railways throughout the city and county. The city's road network also makes use of two bridges to cross the River Foyle, the Craigavon Bridge and the Foyle Bridge, the longest bridge in Ireland. Derry also serves as a major transport hub for travel throughout nearby County Donegal.

In spite of it being the second city of Northern Ireland (and it being the second-largest city in all of Ulster), road and rail links to other cities are below par for its standing. Many business leaders claim that government investment in the city and infrastructure has been badly lacking. Some have stated that this is due to its outlying border location whilst others have cited a sectarian bias against the region west of the River Bann due to its high proportion of Catholics. There is no direct motorway link with Dublin or Belfast. The rail link to Belfast has been downgraded over the years so that, presently, it is not a viable alternative to the roads for industry to rely on. There are currently plans for £1 billion worth of transport infrastructure investment in and around the district. Planned upgrades to the A5 Dublin road agreed as part of the Good Friday Agreement and St. Andrews Talks fell through when the government of the Republic of Ireland reneged on its funding citing the recent economic crisis.

Buses

Most public transport in Northern Ireland is operated by the subsidiaries of Translink. Originally the city's internal bus network was run by Ulsterbus, which still provides the city's connections with other towns in Northern Ireland. The city's buses are now run by Ulsterbus Foyle, just as Translink Metro now provides the bus service in Belfast. The Ulsterbus Foyle network offers 13 routes across the city into the suburban areas, excluding an Easibus link which connects to the Waterside and Drumahoe, and a free Rail Link Bus runs from the Waterside Railway Station to the city centre. All buses leave from the Foyle Street Bus Station in the city centre.

Long-distance buses depart from Foyle Street Bus Station to destinations throughout Ireland. Buses are operated by both Ulsterbus and Bus Éireann on cross-border routes. Lough Swilly formerly operated buses to Co. Donegal, but the company entered liquidation and is no longer in operation. There is a half-hourly service to Belfast every day, called the Maiden City Flyer, which is the Goldline Express flagship route. There are hourly services to Strabane, Omagh, Coleraine, Letterkenny and Buncrana, and up to twelve services a day to bring people to Dublin. There is a daily service to Sligo, Galway, Shannon Airport and Limerick.

Air

City of Derry Airport, the council-owned airport near Eglinton, has been growing in recent years with new investment in extending the runway and plans to redevelop the terminal. It is hoped that the new investment will add to the airport's currently limited array of domestic and international flights and reduce the annual subsidy of £3.5 million from the local council.

The A2 from Maydown to Eglinton, serving airport, has recently been turned into a dual carriageway. City of Derry airport is the main regional airport for County Donegal, County Londonderry and west County Tyrone as well as Derry City itself.

The airport is served by Ryanair with scheduled flights to Glasgow Airport and Liverpool, all year round with a summer schedule to Alicante and Faro.

Railways

Northern Ireland Railways (N.I.R.) has a single route from Londonderry railway station (also known as Waterside Station) on the Waterside to Belfast Great Victoria Street via Coleraine, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Antrim, Mossley West and Belfast Central. The service, which had been allowed to deteriorate in the 1990s, has since been improved by increased investment.

In 2008 the Department for Regional Development announced plans to have the track re-laid between Derry and Coleraine by 2013, add a passing loop to increase traffic capacity and increase the number of trains by introducing two additional diesel multiple units. The £86 million plan will reduce the journey time to Belfast by 30 minutes and allow commuter trains to arrive before 9 a.m. for the first time. Many still do not use the train, because, at over two hours, it is slower centre-to-centre than the 100-minute Ulsterbus Goldline Express service.

Railway history

Map Rail Ireland Viceregal Commission 1906
Ireland's railway network in 1906

Throughout the first half of the 20th century the city was served by four different railways that between them linked the city with much of the province of Ulster, plus a harbour railway network that linked the other four lines. There was also a tramway on the City side of the Foyle.

19th and 20th century growth

Derry's first railway was the Irish gauge (5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)) Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway (L&ER). Construction began in 1845 from a temporary station at Cow Market on the City side of the Foyle, reached Strabane in 1847 and was extended from Cow Market to its permanent terminus at Foyle Road in 1850. The L&ER reached Omagh in 1852 and Enniskillen in 1854, and was absorbed into the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) in 1883.

The Londonderry and Coleraine Railway (L&CR), also Irish gauge, reached the city in 1852 and opened its terminus at Waterside. The Belfast and Northern Counties Railway leased the line from 1861 and took it over in 1871.

The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway opened between Farland Point on Lough Swilly and a temporary terminus at Pennyburn in 1863. In 1866 it extended from Pennyburn to its permanent terminus at Graving Dock. The L&LSR was Irish gauge until 1885, when it was converted to 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge for through running with the Letterkenny Railway.

The Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners (LPHC) linked Graving Dock and Foyle Road stations with a railway through Middle Quay in 1867, and linked this line with Waterside station by a railway over the new Carlisle Bridge in 1868. The bridge was replaced in 1933 with the double-deck Craigavon Bridge, with the LPHC railway on its lower deck.

In 1900 the 3 ft (914 mm) gauge Donegal Railway extended from Strabane to Derry, establishing a terminus at Victoria Road. This was next to Carlisle Bridge and had a junction with the LPHC railway. The LPHC line was altered to dual gauge which allowed 3 ft (914 mm) gauge traffic between the Donegal Railway and L&LSR as well as Irish gauge traffic between the GNR and B&NCR. In 1906 the Northern Counties Committee (NCC, successor to the B&NCR) and the GNR jointly took over the Donegal Railway, making it the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee (CDRJC).

The United Kingdom Government subsidised both the L&LSR and the Donegal Railway to build long extensions into remote parts of County Donegal. By 1905 these served much of the county, making Derry (and also Strabane) a key rail hub for the county.

The City of Derry Tramways was opened in 1897. This was a standard gauge (1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)) line served by horse trams and was never electrified. The tramway had only one line, was 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long, and ran along the City side of the Foyle parallel to the LPHC's line on that side of the river. It was closed in 1919.

20th century decline

The partition of Ireland in 1922 turned the boundary with County Donegal into an international frontier. This changed trade patterns to the railways' detriment and placed border posts on every line to and from Derry except the NCC route to Coleraine. The L&LSR crossed the border between Pennyburn and Bridge End, the CDRJC crossed just beyond Strabane, and the GNR line crossed twice between Derry and Strabane. Stops for customs inspections greatly delayed trains and disrupted timekeeping.

Over the next few years customs agreements between the two states enabled GNR trains to and from Derry to pass through the Free State without inspection unless they were scheduled to serve local stations on the west bank of the Foyle, and for goods on all railways to be carried between different parts of the Free State to pass through Northern Ireland under customs bond. However, local passenger and goods traffic continued to be delayed by customs examinations.

In the 1920s and 30s and again after the Second World War the railways also faced increasing road competition. The L&LSR closed its line in 1953, followed by the CDRJC in 1954. The Ulster Transport Authority took over the NCC in 1949 and the GNR's lines in Northern Ireland in 1958. The UTA also took over the LPHC railway, which it closed in 1962. In accordance with The Benson Report submitted to the Northern Ireland Government in 1963, the UTA closed the former GNR line to Derry in 1965.

Since 1965 the former L&CR line has been Derry's sole railway link. As such it has carried not only passenger services between Derry and Belfast but also CIÉ freight services using Derry as a railhead for Donegal.

Road network

The road network has historically seen under-investment and has lacked good road connections to both Belfast and Dublin for many years. Long overdue, the largest road investment in the north west's history is now (2010) taking place with building of the 'A2 Broadbridge Maydown to City of Derry Airport dualling' project and announcement of the 'A6 Londonderry to Dungiven Dualling Scheme' which will help to reduce the travel time to Belfast. The latter project brings a dual-carriageway link between Northern Ireland's two largest cities one step closer. The project is costing £320 million and is expected to be completed in 2016.

In October 2006 the Government of Ireland announced that it was to invest €1 billion in Northern Ireland; and one of the planned projects will be 'The A5 Western Transport Corridor', the complete upgrade of the A5 Derry – Omagh – Aughnacloy (– Dublin) road, around 90 kilometres (56 miles) long, to dual carriageway standard.

It is not yet known if these two separate projects will connect at any point, although there have been calls for some form of connection between the two routes. In June 2008 Conor Murphy, Minister for Regional Development, announced that there will be a study into the feasibility of connecting the A5 and A6. Should it proceed, the scheme would most likely run from Drumahoe to south of Prehen along the south east of the City.

Sea

HMS Ferret surrendered Uboats
A mass of surrendered German U-boats at their mooring at Lisahally

Londonderry Port at Lisahally is the United Kingdom's most westerly port and has capacity for 30,000-ton vessels. The Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners (LPHC) announced record turnover, record profits and record tonnage figures for the year ended March 2008. The figures are the result of a significant capital expenditure programme for the period 2000 to 2007 of about £22 million. Tonnage handled by LPHC increased almost 65% between 2000 and 2007, according to the latest annual results.

The port gave vital Allied service in the longest running campaign of the Second World War, the Battle of the Atlantic, and saw the surrender of the German U-Boat fleet at Lisahally on 8 May 1945.

Inland waterways

The tidal River Foyle is navigable from the coast at Derry to approximately 10 miles (16 km) inland. In 1796, the Strabane Canal was opened, continuing the navigation a further 4 miles (6 km) southwards to Strabane. The canal was closed in 1962.

Culture

'Hands Across the Divide' sculpture, Derry
Hands Across the Divide sculpture, by Maurice Harron

In recent years the city and surrounding countryside have become well known for their artistic legacy, producing Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, poet Seamus Deane, playwright Brian Friel, writer and music critic Nik Cohn, artist Willie Doherty, socio-political commentator and activist Eamonn McCann and bands such as The Undertones. The large political gable-wall murals of Bogside Artists, Free Derry Corner, the Foyle Film Festival, the Derry Walls, St Eugene's and St Columb's Cathedrals and the annual Halloween street carnival are popular tourist attractions. In 2010, Derry was named the UK's tenth 'most musical' city by PRS for Music.

Derry Peace Flame
Peace Flame Monument, unveiled in May 2013

In May 2013 a perpetual Peace Flame Monument was unveiled by Martin Luther King III and Presbyterian minister Rev. David Latimer. The flame was lit by children from both traditions in the city and is one of only 15 such flames across the world.

Media

The local papers the Derry Journal (known as the Londonderry Journal until 1880) and the Londonderry Sentinel reflect the divided history of the city: the Journal was founded in 1772 and is Ireland's second oldest newspaper; the Sentinel newspaper was formed in 1829 when new owners of the Journal embraced Catholic Emancipation, and the editor left the paper to set up the Sentinel.

There are numerous radio stations receivable: the largest stations based in the city are BBC Radio Foyle and the commercial station Q102.9.

There was a locally based television station, C9TV, one of only two local or 'restricted' television services in Northern Ireland, which ceased broadcasts in 2007.

Night-life

The city's night-life is mainly focused on the weekends, with several bars and clubs providing "student nights" during the weekdays. Waterloo Street and Strand Road provide the main venues. Waterloo Street, a steep street lined with both Irish traditional and modern pubs, frequently has live rock and traditional music at night.

Events

  • In 2013, Derry became the first city to be designated UK City of Culture, having been awarded the title in July 2010.
  • Also in 2013 the city hosted Radio 1's Big Weekend and the Lumiere festival.
  • The "Banks of the Foyle Hallowe'en Carnival" (known in Irish as Féile na Samhna) in Derry are a huge tourism boost for the city. The carnival is promoted as being the first and longest running Halloween carnival in the whole of Ireland, It is called the largest street party in Ireland by the Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau with more than 30,000 ghoulish revellers taking to the streets annually.
  • In March, the city hosts the Big Tickle Comedy Festival, which in 2006 featured Dara Ó Briain and Colin Murphy. In April the city plays host to the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival and in November the Foyle Film Festival, the biggest film festival in Northern Ireland.
  • Every summer the city hosts Tomo-Dachi, Ireland's largest Anime convention, which in July 2006 was held at Magee College, Ulster University.
  • The Siege of Derry is commemorated annually by the fraternal organisation the Apprentice Boys of Derry in the week-long Maiden City Festival.
  • The Instinct Festival is an annual youth festival celebrating the Arts. It is held around Easter and has proven a success in recent years.
  • Celtronic is a major annual electronic dance festival held at venues all around the city. The 2007 Festival featured the DJ, Erol Alkan.
  • The Millennium Forum is the main theatre in the city, it holds numerous shows weekly.
  • On 9 December 2007 Derry entered the Guinness Book of Records when 13,000 Santas gathered to break the world record, beating previous records held by Liverpool and Las Vegas.
  • Winner of the 2005 Britain in Bloom competition (City category). Runner-up 2009.

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