Derry Things to Do Tips by BillNJ Top 5 Page for this destination
Derry Things to Do: 39 reviews and 74 photos
After checking in at the Amore B&B, I ventured out into the city centre on foot with a city map. Eventually, I reached the Tower Museum which has great exhibits about Derry's history and the Spanish Armada.
While I would have liked to have toured this entire museum in depth, I only had limited time -- and many things that I wanted to see. While Derry's early history is fascinating, my main goal was to learn as much as I could about the Troubles and the Bloody Sunday massacre. Therefore, I headed back to the Bogside for my next stop -- The Museum of Free Derry.
Directions: Within the city’s historic walls at Union Hall Place
Just inside the historic Walls, there is a magnificent Gothic style cathedral that was consecrated in 1633 and dedicated to St. Columba, the Ulster monk who established a Christian settlement in the Derry area before being exiled from Ireland. St. Columb later introduced Christianity to Scotland and northern England.
Today, St. Columb's Cathedral is the principal church for the Church of Ireland (Protestant) in the Diocese of Derry. It is also one of Northern Ireland's most popular tourist attractions. 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 from 18 April to 28 July 1689. The foundation stone in the porch contains the following inscription:
"If stones could speake, then London's prayse should sound, Who built this church and cittie from the grounde."
The Museum of Free Derry advertises that it is an archive focusing on the civil rights era of the 1960s and the Free Derry/early Troubles era of the 1970s. It is a small museum, and it is a little difficult to find because it is set back a bit off Rossville Street in the Bogside section.
The majority of the museum is dedicated to the watershed event of Derry's recent history -- the Bloody Sunday massacre of 30 January 1972. In the museum, there are many exhibits about the unfortunate killing of the fourteen Civil Rights protesters (thirteen died on the day of the event and one died later as a result of injuries) by the British troops -- and other exhibits which provide valuable historical context.
Unlike many museums that are sterile and bland, this museum is raw and emotionally powerful. If you seek a greater understanding of the period known as the Troubles, be sure to visit this unique museum!
Directions: Off Rossville Street in the Bogside
The Guildhall is a neo-Gothic style building that serves as the civic and cultural centre for the people of the Derry. Throughout the year, there are many concerts, exhibitions and meetings held here.
The Guildhall was originally built in 1887 by The Honourable The Irish Society -- an English organization that promoted the colonization of the County of Londonderry during the Plantation of Ulster. The Guildhall officially opened in 1890. In 1972, it was bombed twice; however, it was subsequently refurbished and reopened in 1977.
Decorated with Drumfrese sandstone, marble, oak panelling and ornate ceilings, the Guildhall is one of the premier tourist attractions in Derry. The stain-glass windows are considered some of the finest in all of Great Britain. Also, the main hall contains a magnificent concert organ that is considered one of the finest in Europe.
During the civil rights march on 30 January 1972, the original final destination point was the Guildhall. However, due to the large presence of British troops, the march organizers tried to divert the crowd to the Free Derry Corner. On that unfortunate day, a regiment of British Paratroopers fired upon the protesters and killed a total of fourteen (thirteen died that day and one died later from injuries) in what has become known as the Bloody Sunday massacre.
Address: Guildhall Street
Directions: On the Cityside between the Walls and the banks of the River Foyle
Derry City Tours advertises that tours are available all year round, 7 days a week at 10 am, 12 Noon, and 2 pm. I arrived at their starting location at 10 am. Despite the fact that I was the only person (it was the offseason) and it had started to rain, tour guide John McNulty gave me the full Historical Tour of Derry City.
The tour was both informative and entertaining. I learned a lot about Derry's history, and I also heard some great stories and jokes from John. According to John, his tour was about Derry's entire history -- warts and all. It was a walking tour -- and a large part of it was along Derry's Wall. The tour ended at the Diamond War Memorial in the centre of the Walled City. Shortly before the end of the tour, the rain had stopped (temporarily) -- and I was able to take a photo of John at the memorial. The cost of the tour was 4 Pounds, and I gave 1 Pound to John as a well-deserved gratuity.
I highly recommend a visit to the City of Derry and a walking tour with Derry City Tours. Even with the rain, it was one of the best tours that I have ever taken!
Address: 11 Carlisle Road
The Granite Obelisk Memorial
On Rossville Street in the Bogside, there is a granite obelisk memorial to the fourteen civil rights protesters who were killed by a British Army Paratroop Regiment in the Bloody Sunday massacre on Sunday 30 January 1972. The names of all fourteen victims are inscribed on the memorial.
If anyone wants to learn more about the Bloody Sunday massacre, I highly recommend the 2002 film "Bloody Sunday" that was written and directed by Paul Greengrass. In documentary style, the film gives a very real and emotionally powerful depiction of the events of 30 January 1972 in Derry.
Directions: Rossville Street
The Bogside Artists are a trio of mural painters from Derry named Tom Kelly, his brother William Kelly, and Kevin Hasson. The trio painted a series of outdoor murals called the People's Gallery in the Bogside section of Derry. The murals document events and themes pertaining to the civil rights struggle during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
A visitor to Derry can walk around Rossville Street in the Bogside and view the currently existing murals. In addition, one can visit The Bogside Artists Studio located at 46 William Street which contains photos of the murals and other important events such as the Bloody Sunday massacre.
The Free Derry Corner is at the corner of Lecky Road and Fahan Street in the Bogside. The slogan "You Are Now Entering Free Derry" was first painted in January 1969 by John Casey. Free Derry was a self-declared autonomous Nationalist area of Derry, between 1969 and 1972, which included the Bogside and Creggan neighbourhoods. For a short period in 1969, residents of the area built barricades and carried clubs and similar arms to prevent the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) from entering. Free Derry came to an end on 31 July 1972, when thousands of British troops moved in with armoured cars and bulldozers to occupy the area.
While Free Derry no longer exists as an autonomous Nationalist area, the sign remains as an important symbol for Irish Nationalists.
Directions: The corner of Lecky Road and Fahan Street in the Bogside section.
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 are the largest monument in State care in Northern Ireland.
I walked along the walls both during my walking tour and on my own afterwards. Along the walls, there are plaques with information about significant landmarks such as the gates, cannons, and historic buildings.
Certainly, a walk around the well-preserved city walls is a highlight of any trip to Derry!
Address: Around the city centre
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