Derry, officially Londonderry, is the second largest city in Northern Ireland with a population of 107,877, accounting for 5.96% of the Northern Ireland total. The historic walled city is situated on the west bank of the River Foyle, which features one footbridge and two road bridges. Derry is known for its hilly landscape, with the River Foyle forming a deep valley through the city, making it a place of steep streets and breath-taking views.
In 2013, Derry was named the UK City of Culture, previously being awarded the title in 2010.
Said to have been founded in the 6th century by Saint Colmcille (or St Columba), Derry was renamed Londonderry in 1613 upon the award of its Royal Charter by King James I. The city was the first planned city in Ireland, with the walls being completed in 1619, at a cost of £10,757.
During World War II, the city played a vital part in the Battle of the Atlantic. Ships from the Royal Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, and other allied navies were posted in the city and the United States military also 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 to be the first American naval base in Europe and the terminal for American convoys heading into Europe.
Additional information on Derry can be found on the Visit Derry website and Visit Derry Twitter.
A number of famous faces have originated from, or are connected to, Derry. Just some are listed below.
Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry and 4th Earl of Bristol
Former Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill
Social Democratic and Labour Party founder and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume
Actresses Amanda Burton and Roma Downey
Authors Joyce Cary, Seamus Deane, Jennifer Johnston and Nell McCafferty
Girls Aloud member Nadine Coyle
Derry is home to a number of sports teams and clubs, with football and Gaelic football being the most popular in the city. Just some of the teams and clubs are listed below.
Derry City FC are professional and play at the Brandywell Stadium in the League of Ireland Premier Division.
Institute FC are semi-professional and play at the Riverside Stadium in the NIFL Premiership.
Oxford United Stars FC play at the Swilly Stadium and currently compete in the Northern Ireland Intermediate League.
Derry GAA are the county team and play in the Gaelic Athletic Association’s National Football League, Ulster Senior Football Championship and All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. They also field hurling teams in the equivalent tournaments. There are many Gaelic games clubs in and around the city, for example Na Magha CLG, Steelstown GAC, Doire Colmcille CLG, Seán Dolans GAC, Na Piarsaigh CLG Doire Trasna and Slaughtmanus GAC.
St Columb’s Cathedral
Built between 1628 and 1633 from the same grey-green schist as the city walls, this was the first post- Reformation church to be erected in Britain and Ireland, and is also oldest surviving building in the city.
The award winning Tower Museum is set within the city’s historic walls at Union Hall Place. Permanent exhibitions at the museum include The Story of Derry exhibition and the An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera exhibition.
Standing just outside the city walls, the neo-Gothic Guildhall was originally built in 1890, then rebuilt after a fire in 1908. The Guildhall is noted for its fine stained glass windows, and its clock tower which is modelled on London’s Big Ben. Following a major restoration in 2012–13, the Guildhall now hosts a historical exhibition on the Plantation of Ulster, and is also a tourist information point.
The small, old-fashioned Harbour Museum, with models of ships, a replica of a currach (an early sailing boat of the type that carried St Colmcille to Iona) and the bosomy figurehead of the Minnehaha, is housed in the old Harbour Commissioner’s Building next to the Guildhall.