One of our favourite cities in the Ulster region is Derry (also called Londonderry, Maiden City or Walled City). Derry is Northern Ireland’s second largest city and a truly charming place, mostly due to the people who live there. Their friendly nature will win you over in a heartbeat! The city itself has a heady mix of culture, history and music, so lets have a look at some of the things that you can do there while you visit!
The Tower Museum in Derry City opened its doors in October of 1992 and has won many accolades. It currently houses two permanent exhibitions: “The Story of Derry” and “ An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera”. It presents a great overview of the city’s history and is certainly worth a visit!
Aside from these two main exhibitions, the Tower Museum also offers a range of learning experiences no matter what your age from an object handling session and interactive workshops to CD- rom workshops.
The top level of the museum acts as the only open air viewing facility in the heart of the city with sensational views of the inner city and the river Foyle.
This museum is a great place to start your journey of Derry City and immerse yourself in it’s intriguing history.
Located on land reclaimed from the River Foyle, the Guildhall is a beautiful building just outside the walls of Derry City. The building dates back to 1887, originally costing £19,000 ($31,500) and was officially opened in 1890 as an administrative centre for the Londonderry Corporation. It was badly damaged twice in its history – first by a fire in 1908 (with only the clock tower remaining) and again in 1972 by a bomb. This stunning red sandstone building features neo-gothic architecture, with subtle hints of the Tudor era shining through. The interior of the building houses the most eloquent stained glass windows – some of the finest in Ireland and during the restoration process many of them were recreated using the original watercolour designs, with the windows retelling the story of Derry’s history.
St. Columb’s Cathedral
St. Columb’s Cathedral was built in 1633 by William Parrot for the Honourable Irish Society in the Planter Gothic Style. The current tower and main building are that of the original Cathedral, with the spire being added in 1821. The Chancel was added in 1887 and the Chapter House in 1910. The Cathedral was built of stone from local quarries; and skilled stone cutters and masons had to be procured. It’s eight bells are the oldest set in Ireland, and were presented by Charles I in 1638. The Cathedral has many fine stained glass windows, regimental flags, memorials and a large collection of historical items from the time of the Siege of Derry in the 17th century.The foundation stone in the porch, originally from the 12th Century Templemore Monastery of the Columban tradition is inscribed: “If stones could speake, then London’s prayse should sounde who built this church and cittie from the grounde, Vaughan aed”
City’s Heritage Trail
The City’s Heritage Trail is where you’ll discover the origins of one of the longest inhabited places in Ireland . This is a fantastic way to discover the city yourself and gives you the freedom to explore on your own clock. There are over 100 sites of historical interest along the trail from cathedrals and churches to parks, villages, murals and monuments. You’ll find a new story on every side street as the echoes of the city’s history call out to you.
Walls of Derry
The walls were built between 1613 – 1618 and were erected to protect the wealth of the English and Scottish settlers from local Gaelic chieftains. These magnificent walls have never been breached and are among the best preserved in Europe with many of it’s original gateways still intact.
So there’s a taster of what this fabulous city has to offer. It’s an easy navigable city with lots of things to do – there are numerous pubs and clubs, where you can be sure to enjoy a pint (or two!) of the black stuff and perhaps even encounter an impromptu music session or two, and if retail therapy is needed to cure your head the following morning there are two great shopping centres – Foyleside and Richmond, not to mention an eclectic mix of smaller shops dotted throughout the city. Whatever you do in the city, you are ensured of a friendly smile and a busy itinerary!
Self Catering Holiday Homes nearby: Downings Coastguard Cottages, Donegal