"Now it's Called Derry" Top 5 Page for this destination Derry/Londonderry by Goner

Derry/Londonderry Travel Guide: 57 reviews and 219 photos

Been Here a Long Time

Archeological digs found that Prehistoric people have been here for thousands of years. There was an island in the middle of the River Foyle that marks the site of an oak grove that gave the city it's name Derry which is derived from Daire, an old Irish word. The oak groves were sacred to the ancient Celtics as they were typically used for their rituals. Eventually the water dried up and left a bog which is now the main part of Derry.

History references that Irish St. Columma founded a monastery here in 546 AD making it one of the longest inhabitated places in Ireland.

After my visit to Derry I delved into it's history and hopefully have portrayed historical events as accurately as possible. The day I visited there only touched the surface and left me with a need to learn more of the history of where my ancestors made their home in Ireland.
Derry is such a pretty city and is a beautiful accent to the River Foyle.

Early History of Derry

In the 12th and 13th centuries Derry prospered under the tribe of Mac Lochlainn and the city grew and prestigious buildings were erected but as the Mac Lochlainns declined so did Derry.

The English first came to Derry in 1566 but the garrison established there at that time lasted only a few years. During the second half of the 16th century England tried to conquer the province of Ulster which was the only part of Ireland still outside English control. The English managed to hold on to Derry in 1603 when the “Nine years War’ against the Gaelic O’Neill and O’Donnell earls came to an end.

King James I decided on a plan to send predominately loyal Protestant English and Scottish migrants to the area to colonize and subordinate Ulster a primarily Catholic province. This plan was called the “Plantations of Ulster”. One part of this colonization was to be organized by the ancient and wealthy trades' guilds of London. Derry was then called Londonderry in honor of this association.

The new city was enclosed by massive stone and earthen fortifications making Derry the last walled city built in Ireland. The new city had only 2,000 inhabitants but it was the largest town in Ulster. On April 18 1689, King James came to Derry to end the war between the Williamites (Catholics) and the Jacobites (supporters of the Stuarts). As a policy of no surrender' 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, many thousands of people died, both inside and outside the walls.

The city was rebuilt in the eighteenth century with many of its fine Georgian style houses still surviving. In 1790 the so-called Earl Bishop was responsible for building the city's first bridge across the Foyle.

More History

During the 18th and 19th 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. My Irish ancestors left this area for America just at the onset of the Famine and were not there to participate in it's current turbulent history. Some were Irish Catholics and some Scotch/Irish Protestants so not sure how they would have fit in current Irish history.

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.

The Easter Rising was a rebellion staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916 and was considered as a key turning point on the road to Irish independence.The British had wanted to grant Home Rule to the whole island of Ireland as a single unit but Protestants, who formed a majority in the Northern counties of Ulster province, threatened violence if they were separated from Britain. While the Easter Rising was for the most part carried out by the Irish Volunteers, it was planned by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). James Connolly, head of the Irish Citizen Army, a group of armed socialist trade union men and women, joined forces with the IRB.

In 1921, with the partition of Ireland, Derry unexpectedly became a border city.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart gave the city a much needed boost when she landed here becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Bloody Sunday sometimes called the Bogside Massacre was an incident that happened on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry in which twenty-six unarmed civil rights protesters and bystanders were shot by members of the British Army. The incident occurred during a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march. Thirteen males, seven of whom were teenagers, died immediately or soon after, while the death of another man four and a half months later has been attributed to the injuries he received on that day. Two protesters were injured when they were run down by army vehicles. Five of those wounded were shot in the back. After a twelve-year inquiry, a report was made public on 15 June 2010. The report found that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were both "unjustified and unjustifiable." On the publication of the Saville report the British prime minister, David Cameron, made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom.

‘The Good Friday Agreement’ is the historic agreement in the Northern Ireland peace process that was signed between the British and Irish governments on Good Friday, 10 April 1998. Item 1 of the Declaration of Support reads: We, the participants in the multi-party negotiations, believe that the agreement we have negotiated offers a truly historic opportunity for a new beginning.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A city with an interesting history
  • Cons:A city with a sometimes tragic history
  • In a nutshell:A great introduction to Northern Ireland
  • Last visit to Derry/Londonderry: Apr 2008
  • Intro Updated Sep 20, 2010
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