Coordinates: 54°59′45″N 7°18′27″W / 54.9958°N 7.3074°W / 54.9958; -7.3074

Derry / Londonderry
Scots: Derrie / Lunnonderrie
Irish: Doire / Doire Cholmcille
Maiden City
Derry collage.jpg
From top, left to right: An aerial view of Derry, Guildhall, Murals in the Bogside, Derry walls, Hands Across the Divide sculpture, the Waterfront.
Coat of arms of Derry.png
Vita Veritas Victoria
"Life, Truth, Victory"
(Adapted from a decoration on the Craigavon Bridge)
Derry / Londonderry is located in Northern Ireland

 Derry / Londonderry shown within Northern Ireland
Population Derry

2008 est.
Irish grid reference C434166
District Derry City
County County Londonderry
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDONDERRY[1]
Postcode district BT47
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament Foyle
NI Assembly Foyle
List of places: UK • Northern Ireland • County Londonderry

Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland[2][3] and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland.[4] The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille". In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and the "London" prefix was added, changing the name of the city to Londonderry. While the city is more usually known as Derry,[5][6] Londonderry is also 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 city district also extends to rural areas to the southeast. The population of the city proper (the area defined by its 17th century charter) was 83,652 in the 2001 Census, while the Derry Urban Area had a population of 90,663.[7] The Derry City Council area had a population of 107,300 as of June 2006.[8] The district is administered by Derry City Council and contains both Londonderry Port and City of Derry Airport.

The Greater Derry area, that area within about 20 miles (32 km) of the city, has a population of 237,000.[9] This comprises the districts of Derry City and parts of Limavady district, Strabane district, and North-East Donegal.[10]

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 c. 1600). Derry and the nearby town of Letterkenny form the major economic core of north west Ireland.

In 2013, Derry will become the first city to be designated UK City of Culture, having been awarded the title in July 2010.[11][12]



Road-sign in Northern Ireland with the reference to London obscured
Road-signs in the Republic of Ireland use Derry only

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 January 2007 when Derry City Council sought guidance on the procedure for effecting a name change.[13][14] The council had changed its name from "Londonderry City Council" to "Derry City Council" in 1984;[15] 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.[16] Derry City Council since started the process were involved in conducting an equality impact assessment report (EQIA).[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[19]

Despite the official name, the city is more usually known as simply Derry,[5][6] which is an anglicisation of the old Irish Daire, which in modern Irish is spelt Doire, and translates as "oak-grove/oak-wood". The name derives from the settlement's earliest references, Daire Calgaich ("oak-grove of Calgach").[20] The name was changed from Derry in 1613 during the Plantation of Ulster to reflect the establishment of the city by the London guilds.[21][22]

The name "Derry" is preferred by nationalists and it is broadly used throughout Northern Ireland's Catholic community,[23] as well as that of the Republic of Ireland, whereas many unionists prefer "Londonderry";[24][25] however in everyday conversation Derry is used by most Protestant residents of the city.[26] Apart from this local government decision, the city is usually[23] 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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[25] 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.[29] 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.[30] 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".[31] 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 during the Siege of Derry in the late 17th century.[32] It is also nicknamed Stroke City by local broadcaster, Gerry Anderson, due to the 'politically correct' use of the oblique notation Derry/Londonderry [23] (which appellation has itself been used by BBC Television[33]). 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 Derrymore, Derrybeg and Derrylea.

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

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

City walls

A portion of the city walls of Derry.
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.[34][35][36] 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.[37]

The Walls were built during the period 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 (1.5 km) in circumference and which vary in height and width between 12 and 35 feet (4 to 12 metres), 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.[38]


St Columb's Cathedral

The city has long been a focal point for important events in Irish history, including the 1688–89 siege of Derry and Bloody Sunday on 30 January 1972.

Early history

Derry is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Ireland.[39] 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, Columba founded a monastery in the then Doire Calgach, on the east side of the Foyle. According to oral and documented history, the site was granted to Columba by a local king.[40] 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 accepted that this was an erroneous date assigned by medieval chroniclers.[39] It is accepted that between the 6th century and the 11th century, Derry was known primarily as a monastic settlement.[39]

The town became strategically more significant during the Tudor conquest of Ireland and came under frequent attack, until in 1608 it was destroyed by Cahir O'Doherty, Irish chieftain of Inishowen.[41]


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 built the city of Londonderry across the Foyle from the earlier town, with walls to defend it from Irish insurgents who did not welcome the occupation. The aim was to settle Ulster with a population supportive of the Crown.[22]

This Derry was the first planned city in Ireland: it was begun in 1613, with the walls being completed 5 years later in 1618, at a cost of £10,757.[42] 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.[43] 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."[44]

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 in nearby 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

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.[45][46] One of the most notable shipping lines was the McCorkell Line operated by Wm. McCorkell & Co. Ltd. from 1778.[47] The McCorkell's most famous ship was the Minnehaha, which was known as the "Green Yacht from Derry".[47]


The war memorial in The Diamond, erected 1927[48]

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.[49][50] 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.

During the Second World War the city played an important part in the Battle of the Atlantic.[51] 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. 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. 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.[52]


The "Free Derry" sign in the Bogside: "You are now entering Free Derry"
The Bogside area viewed from the walls

Catholics were discriminated against under Unionist government in Northern Ireland, both politically and economically.[53][54][55][56] 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.[57]

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.[56] 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 January 30, 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.

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.[58]


The local district council is Derry City Council, which consists of five electoral areas: Cityside, Northland, Rural, Shantallow and Waterside. The council of 30 members is re-elected every four years, though the 2009 election is expected to be postponed until 2011, when a new council for Derry and Strabane is planned to replace existing councils[citation needed]. As of the 2005 election, 14 Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) members, ten Sinn Féin, five Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and one Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) make up the council.[dated info] The mayor and deputy mayor are elected annually by councillors, and SDLP councillor Gerard Diver's term as mayor began in June 2008.[dated info][59]

The local authority boundaries correspond to the Foyle constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the Foyle constituency of the Northern Ireland Assembly. In European Parliament elections, it is part of the Northern Ireland constituency.

Coat of arms and motto

Derry's coat of arms

The devices on the city's arms are a skeleton and a three-towered castle on a black field, with the chief or top third of the shield depicting the arms of the City of London: a red cross and sword on white. In the centre of the cross is a gold harp. The blazon of the arms is as follows:

Sable, a human skeleton Or seated upon a mossy stone proper and in dexter chief a castle triple towered argent on a chief also argent a cross gules thereon a harp or and in the first quarter a sword erect gules[60]

According to documents in the College of Arms in London and the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland in Dublin, the arms of the city were confirmed in 1613 by Daniel Molyneux, Ulster King of Arms.[39] The College of Arms document states that the original arms of the City of Derry were ye picture of death (or a skeleton) on a moissy stone & in ye dexter point a castle and that upon grant of a charter of incorporation and the renaming of the city as Londonderry in that year the first mayor had requested the addition of a "chief of London".[61][62]

Theories have been advanced as to the meaning of the "old" arms of Derry, before the addition of the chief bearing the arms of the City of London:

  • A suggestion has been made that the castle is related to an early 14th century castle in nearby Greencastle belonging to the Anglo-Norman Earl of Ulster Richard de Burgh.[39]
  • The most popular theory about the skeleton is that it is that of a Norman De Burgh knight who was starved to death in the castle dungeons in 1332 on the orders of his cousin the above mentioned Earl of Ulster.[39] Another explanation put forward was that it depicted Cahir O'Doherty (Sir Charles O'Dogherty), who was put to death after Derry was invested by the English army in 1608. During the days of Gerrymandering and discrimination against the Catholic population of Derry, Derry's Roman Catholics often used to claim in dark wit that the skeleton was a local waiting for help from the council bureaucracy.[39]

In 1979, Londonderry City Council, as it was then known, commissioned a report into the city's arms and insignia, as part of the design process for an heraldic badge. The published report found that there was no basis for any of the popular explanations for the skeleton and that it was "purely symbolic and does not refer to any identifiable person".[63]

The 1613 records of the arms depicted a harp in the centre of the cross, but this was omitted from later depictions of the city arms, and in the Letters Patent confirming the arms to Londonderry Corporation in 1952.[64] In 2002 Derry City Council applied to the College of Arms to have the harp restored to the city arms, and Garter and Norroy & Ulster Kings of Arms accepted the 17th century evidence, issuing letters patent to that effect in 2003.[60]

The motto attached to the coat of arms reads in Latin, "Vita, Veritas, Victoria". This translates into English as, "Life, Truth, Victory".[39]


Derry is characterised by its distinctively hilly topography.[65] 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.[66]

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. 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.[67]

Other important nature reserves lie at Ness Country Park,[68] 10 miles (16 km) east of Derry; and at Prehen Wood,[69] within the city's south-eastern suburbs.


Derry has, like most of Ireland, a temperate maritime climate[70] according to the Köppen climate classification system. The nearest official Met Office Weather Station for which climate data is available is Carmoney[71], just west of City of Derry Airport and about 5 miles north east of the city centre. However, observations ceased in 2004 and the nearest Weather Station is currently Ballykelly, due 12 miles east north east.[72] Typically, 27.6 nights of the year will report an air frost at Carmoney, and at least 1mm of precipitation will be reported on 181.4 days (1971-2000 averages).

The lowest temperature recorded at Carmoney was −11 °C (12.2 °F) on the 27th December 1995.[73]

Climate data for Carmoney 76m asl 1971-2000, (Weather station 5 miles (8 km) NE of Derry)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.0
Average low °C (°F) 1.8
Precipitation mm (inches) 101.5
Sunshine hours 36.6 59.9 85.3 140.4 179.5 145.8 128.0 133.0 111.6 81.2 48.6 29.1 1,179.0
Source: MetOffice[74]


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 (29 April 2001) there were 90,736 people living in Derry Urban Area. Of these, 27.0 percent were aged under 16 years and 13.4 percent were aged 60 and over; 48.3 percent of the population were male and 51.7 percent were female; 77.8 percent were from a Roman Catholic background and 20.8 percent were from a Protestant background; and 7.1 percent of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

The mid-2006 population estimate for the wider Derry City Council area was 107,300.[8] Population growth in 2005/06 was driven by natural change, with net out-migration of approximately 100 people.[8]

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.[45]

Protestant minority

The "No Surrender" mural right outside the city wall: "Londonderry west bank loyalists still under siege no surrender"

Concerns have been raised by both communities over the increasingly divided nature of the city. It is estimated that during the course of the Troubles, as many as 15,000 Protestants moved from the city side. Fewer than 500 Protestants now live on the west bank of the River Foyle, compared to 18,000 in 1969, with most on the Fountain Estate[75] and it is feared that the city could become permanently divided.[76][77]

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.[78] 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.[78]

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."[79]


Du Pont production facility, 2007, Maydown


The economy of the district was based significantly on the textile industry until relatively recently. For many years women were often the sole wage earners working in the shirt factories while the men predominantly in comparison had high levels of unemployment.[80] This led to significant male emigration.[81] The history of shirt making in the city dates back as far as 1831 and is said to have been started by William Scott and his family who first exported shirts to Glasgow.[82] Within 50 years, shirt making in the city was the most prolific in the UK with garments being exported all over the world. It was known so well that the industry received a mention in Das Kapital by Karl Marx, when discussing the factory system:

The shirt factory of Messrs. Tille at Londonderry, which employs 1,000 operatives in the factory itself, and 9,000 people spread up and down the country and working in their own houses.[83]

The industry reached its peak in the 1920s employing around 18,000 people.[39] In modern times however the textile industry declined due to in most part cheaper Asian wages.[84]

A long-term foreign employer in the area is Du Pont, which has been based at Maydown since 1958, its first European production facility.[85] Originally Neoprene was manufactured at Maydown and subsequently followed by Hypalon. More recently Lycra and Kevlar production units were active.[86] Thanks to a healthy worldwide demand for Kevlar which is made at the plant, the facility recently undertook a £40 million upgrade to expand its global Kevlar production. Du Pont has stated that contributing factors to its continued commitment to Maydown are "low labor costs, excellent communications, and tariff-free, easy access to the Britain and European continent."

Inward investment

Seagate production facility, 2005, 1 Disc Drive, Springtown Industrial Estate

In the last 15 years there has been a drive to increase inward investment in the city, more recently concentrating on digital industries. Currently the three largest private-sector employers are American firms.[87] Economic successes have included call centres and a large investment by Seagate, which has operated a factory in the Springtown Industrial Estate since 1993. Seagate currently employs over 1,000 people in the Springtown premises, which produce more than half of the company's total requirement for hard drive read-write heads.

A recent but controversial new employer in the area is Raytheon, Raytheon Systems Limited, was established in 1999, in the Ulster Science & Technology Park, Buncrana Road.[88] Although some of the local people welcomed the jobs boost, others in the area objected to the jobs being provided by a firm involved heavily in the arms trade.[89] Following four years of protest by the Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign, in 2004 Derry City Council passed a motion declaring the district a "A 'No – Go' Area for the Arms Trade".[90] In 2009, the company announced that it was not renewing its lease when it expired in 2010 and was looking for a new location for its operations.[91]

Significant multinational employers in the region include Firstsource of India, DuPont, INVISTA, Stream International, Seagate Technology, Perfecseal, NTL, Raytheon and Northbrook Technology of the United States, Arntz Belting and Invision Software of Germany, and Homeloan Management of the UK. Major local business employers include Desmonds, Northern Ireland's largest privately-owned company, manufacturing and sourcing garments, E&I Engineering, St. Brendan's Irish Cream Liqueur and McCambridge Duffy, one of the largest insolvency practices in the UK.[92]

Even though the city provides cheap labour by standards in Western Europe, critics have noted that the grants offered by the Northern Ireland Industrial Development Board have helped land jobs for the area that only last as long as the funding lasts.[93] This was reflected in questions to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Richard Needham, in 1990.[94] It was noted that it cost £30,000 to create one job in an American firm in Northern Ireland.

Critics of investment decisions affecting the district often point to the decision to build a new university building in nearby (predominately Protestant) Coleraine rather than developing the University of Ulster Magee Campus. Another major government decision affecting the city was the decision to create the new town of Craigavon outside Belfast, which again was detrimental to the development of the city. Even in October 2005, there was perceived bias against the comparatively impoverished North West of the province, with a major civil service job contract going to Belfast. Mark Durkan, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader and Member of Parliament (MP) for Foyle was quoted in the Belfast Telegraph as saying:

The fact is there has been consistent under-investment in the North West and a reluctance on the part of the Civil Service to see or support anything west of the Bann, except when it comes to rate increases, then they treat us equally.

In July 2005, the Irish Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, called for a joint task force to drive economic growth in the cross border region. This would have implications for Counties Londonderry, Tyrone, and Donegal across the border.


Austins department store

The city is the north west's foremost shopping district, housing two large shopping centres along with numerous shop packed streets serving much of the greater county, as well as Tyrone and Donegal. While retail developments in Letterkenny have lessened cross-border traffic from north County Donegal,[citation needed] the weakness of the pound sterling over the course of 2009 made border towns such as Derry attractive to shoppers from south of the border.[95][96]

The city centre has two main shopping centres; the Foyleside Shopping Centre which has 45 stores and 1430 parking spaces, and the Richmond Centre, which has 39 retail units. The Quayside Shopping Centre also serves the city-side and there is also Lisnagelvin Shopping Centre in the Waterside. These centres, as well as local-run businesses, feature numerous national and international stores. A recent addition was the Crescent Link Retail Park located in the Waterside with many international chain stores, including Homebase, Currys, Carpet Right, PC World, Argos Extra, Toys R Us, Halfords, DW Sports (formerly JJB Sports), Pets at Home, Tesco Express and M&S Simply Food . In the short space of time that this site has been operational, it has quickly grown to become the second largest retail park in Northern Ireland (second only to Sprucefield in Lisburn).[97]

The city is also home to the world's oldest independent department store; Austins. Established in 1830, Austins predates Jenners of Edinburgh by 5 years, Harrods of London by 15 years and Macy's of New York by 25 years.[98] The store's five-story Edwardian building is located within the walled city in the area known as The Diamond.


St Eugene's Cathedral
Bishop Street Courthouse
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 Guildhall, the Harbour Museum, the Museum of Free Derry, Chapter House Museum, the Workhouse Museum, the Nerve Centre, St. Columb's Park and Leisure Centre, St Eugene's Cathedral, Creggan Country Park, The Millennium Forum and the Foyle and Craigavon bridges.

Future projects include the Walled City Signature Project, which intends to ensure that the city's walls become a world class tourist experience.[99]

The city has seen a large boost to its economy in the form of tourism over the last few years. Cheap flights offered by budget airlines have enticed many people to visit the city. Tourism mainly focuses around the pubs, mainly those of Waterloo Street. Other attractions include museums, a vibrant shopping centre and trips to the Giant's Causeway, which is approximately 50 miles (80 km) away.

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.[100][101] 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.[102]


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,[103] 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,[104] 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 and also by Lough Swilly buses to Co. Donegal. 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 eleven services a day to bring people to Dublin. There is a daily service to Sligo, Galway, Shannon Airport and Limerick.


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.[105] 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.

Work has commenced to turn the A2 from Maydown to Eglinton and inturn the airport into a dual carriageway, with completion estimated by November 2010.[106] 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 Aer Arann, Flybe and Ryanair with scheduled flights to Birmingham International Airport, Dublin,[107] Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Liverpool, London Stansted, Manchester and Tenerife South all year round with a summer schedule to Alicante, Faro as well as summer charter flights to Majorca and Barcelona in Spain.


Northern Ireland Railways (N.I.R.) has a single route from Londonderry railway station (also known as Waterside Station) on the Waterside to Belfast Central via Coleraine, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Antrim and Whiteabbey. 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 a plan 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.[108] 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.[108] 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.[109]

Railway history

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 netowrk 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[110] and was extended from Cow Market to its permanent terminus at Foyle Road in 1850.[111] The L&ER reached Omagh in 1852 and Enniskillen in 1854,[111] and was absorbed into the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) in 1883.[112]

The Londonderry and Coleraine Railway (L&CR), also Irish gauge, reached the city in 1852 and opened its terminus at Waterside.[111] 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.[111] In 1866 it extended from Pennyburn to its permanent terminus at Graving Dock.[111] 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.[111] 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.[111] 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,[113] making Derry (and also Strabane) a key rail hub for the county.

The City of Derry Tramways was opened in 1897.[114] This was a standard gauge (4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)) line served by horse trams and was never electrified.[114] 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.[115] It was closed in 1919.[114]

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.[110] 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.[110] 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.[116] 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.[117] 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.[116][117][118]

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.[citation needed] 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[119] and announcement of the 'A6 Londonderry to Dungiven Dualling Scheme'[120] which will help to reduce the travel time to Belfast.[121] 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;[122] and one of the planned projects will be 'The A5 Western Transport Corridor',[123] the complete upgrade of the A5 Derry – Omagh – Aughnacloy (– Dublin) road, around 90 kilometres (56 miles) long, to dual carriageway standard.[124]

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.[102] Should it proceed, the scheme would most likely run from Drumahoe to south of Prehen along the south east of the City.[108]


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[when?] 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.[125]


Magee College became a campus of the University of Ulster in 1969

Derry is home to the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster, formerly Magee College. However Lockwood's [126] 1960s decision to locate Northern Ireland's second university in Coleraine rather than Derry helped contribute to the formation of the civil rights movement that ultimately led to The Troubles. Derry was the town more closely associated with higher learning, with Magee College already more than a century old by that time.[127][128] In the mid-1980s a half-hearted attempt was made at rectifying this mistake by forming Magee College as a campus of the University of Ulster but this has failed to stifle calls for the establishment of an independent University in Derry that can grow to it full potential.[129] The campus has never thrived and currently only has 3,500 students out of a total University of Ulster student population of 27,000. Ironically, although Coleraine is blamed by many in the city for 'stealing the University', it has only 5,000 students, the remaining 19,000 being based in Belfast.[130]

The North West Regional College is also based in the city. In recent years it has grown to almost 30,000 students.[131]

One of the two oldest secondary schools in Northern Ireland is located in Derry, Foyle and Londonderry College. It was founded in 1616 by the merchant taylors and remains a popular choice. Other secondary schools include St. Columb's College, Oakgrove Integrated College, St Cecilia's College, St Mary's College, St. Joseph's Boys' School, Lisneal College, Thornhill College, Lumen Christi College and St. Brigid's College. There are also numerous primary schools.


The Derry GAA team ahead of the 2009 National League final.

The city is home to sports clubs and teams. Both association football and Gaelic football are popular in the area. In association football, the city's most prominent clubs include Derry City who play in the national league of the Republic of Ireland; Institute and Oxford United Stars, of the Irish League.

Derry City taking on Paris Saint-Germain at the Brandywell Stadium during the 2006 UEFA Cup

In addition to the Derry City, Institute and Oxford United Stars, who all play in national leagues, other clubs are based in the city. The local football league is the Derry and District League and teams from the city and surrounding areas participate, including Lincoln Courts, Don Boscos, and Trojans; also North West teams like BBOB (Boys Brigade Old Boys). The Foyle Cup youth soccer tournament is held annually in the city. It has attracted many notable teams in the past, including Werder Bremen, IFK Göteborg and Ferencváros.

In Gaelic football 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.

There are many boxing clubs, the most well-known being The Ring Boxing Club, which is associated with Charlie Nash[132] and John Duddy,[133] amongst others.

Rugby Union is also quite popular in the city, with the City of Derry Rugby Club situated not far from the city centre.[134] City of Derry won both the Ulster Towns Cup and the Ulster Junior Cup in 2009. Londonderry YMCA RFC is another rugby club and is based in Drumahoe which is just outside the city.

The city's only basketball club is North Star Basketball Club which has teams in the Basketball Northern Ireland senior and junior Leagues.[135]

Cricket is also a popular sport in the city, particularly in the Waterside. The city is home to two cricket clubs, Brigade Cricket Club and Glendermott Cricket Club, both of whom play in the North West Senior League.

Golf is also a sport which is popular with many in the City. There are two golf clubs situated in the city, City of Derry Golf Club and Foyle International Golf Centre.


'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,[136] poet Seamus Deane, playwright Brian Friel,[137] writer and music critic Nik Cohn, artist Willie Doherty, socio-political commentator and activist Eamonn McCann[138] 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[139] are popular tourist attractions. In 2010, Derry was named the UK's tenth 'most musical' City by PRS for Music.[140][140]


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;[39] 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[141] and the commercial station Q102.9.[142] There is a locally based television station, C9TV, which is one of only two local or 'restricted' television services in Northern Ireland.


The city's night-life is mainly centred on the weekend, with several bars and clubs providing "student nights" during the weekdays. Waterloo Street and the Strand Road are central to the City's nightlife. Waterloo Street is a steep street lined with various pubs, both Irish traditional and modern. Live rock and traditional music can frequently be heard emanating from the pub-doors and windows whilst walking up or down the street at night. The city is renowned for producing talented musicians and many bands perform in venues around the city, for example the Smalltown America duo, Fighting with Wire and Jetplane Landing. Numerous other young local and indeed international bands perform at the Nerve Centre.


  • 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,[143][144] 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.[145]
  • 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, University of Ulster.[146]
  • 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 13000 Santas gathered to break the world record beating previous records held by Liverpool and Las Vegas.[147]
  • Winner of the 2005 Britain in Bloom competition (City category). Runner-up 2009.

References in popular music

I was born in Londonderry
I was born in Derry City too
Oh what a special child
To see such things and still to smile
I know that there was something wrong
But I kept my head down and carried on.
The Divine Comedy "Sunrise"
In 1803 we sailed out to sea,
Out from the sweet town of Derry,
For Australia bound if we did not all drown,
And the marks of our fetters we carried...
Bobby Sands "Back Home In Derry" [148]
It is old but it is beautiful, and its colours they are fine.
It was worn at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne.
My father wore it as a youth in bygone days of yore.
And on the Twelfth I love to wear the sash my father wore
—Anon "The Sash"
...In the early morning the shirt factory horn called women from Creggan,
the Moor and the Bog.
While the men on the dole played a mother's role,
fed the children and then walked the dog.
And when times got tough there was just about enough.
But they saw it through without complaining.
For deep inside was a burning pride in the town I loved so well.
There was music there in the Derry air, like a language that we all could understand...
Phil Coulter "The Town I Loved So Well" [149]

Notable people

Millennium Forum, Newmarket Street

Notable people who were born or have lived in Derry include:

See also


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