The Derry Walls

A walk around the The Derry Walls reveals a splendid city crammed full of history, heritage, interest and a vibrant cultural scene.

Derry Travel Guide: The Derry Walls

The city under consideration represents the last remaining fortified town in Ireland and stands as one of the most exceptional examples of walled cities throughout Europe. These Walls were constructed between the years of 1613 and 1618 by the honourable Irish Society in order to provide protections for the English and Scottish colonial settlers of the early seventeenth century. 

The Walls, roughly 1.5km in circumference, encompass the downtown area and offer an unparalleled promenade from which to view the design of the original Renaissance Style street plan, still preserved to this day. 

The gates to the Walled City, consisting of Shipquay Gate, Butcher Gate, Bishop’s Gate, and Ferryquay Gate, serve as vestiges of the past, with New Gate, Castle Gate, and Magazine Gate having been added later.

The Walls Gates

The city of Derry is home to several fascinating historical landmarks, among which are the seven city gates. The Shipquay, Butcher, Bishop’s, Ferryquay, New, Castle, and Magazine Gates each have their distinct features and pieces of history. The Shipquay Gate, for instance, was one of the four original gates and now boasts a beautiful archway dating back to 1805. 

On its interior face, circular frames showcasing a cornucopia and caduceus can be seen. Meanwhile, the Butcher Gate was rebuilt in 1790 after suffering significant damage in the 1689 siege. Similarly, the Bishop’s Gate underwent changes in 1789 and now bears a triumphal arch. 

The Ferryquay Gate is famous for being closed by the Apprentice Boys of Derry against the Jacobite army of James II in December 1688. The New Gate was added to the walls in the 1790s before the United Irishmen Rising of 1798. Lastly, both the Castle Gate and Magazine Gate were added to the walls later on to allow additional access.

The Derry Walls

The Derry Walls: History

The Siege of Derry was a significant conflict that occurred during the Williamite War in Ireland. 13 apprentices initiated the siege by locking the gates to the advancing forces of the Earl of Antrim, a loyalist to James II, who could not lay siege to the city due to a shortage of men and thus retreated to Coleraine. 

On April 18, 1689, the siege intensified as loyalist forces arrived and demanded the city’s surrender, followed by James II himself. However, the city refused to surrender. The siege concluded on August 1 when ships carrying essential supplies broke through the boom across the River Foyle and relieved the city. 

The city’s walls were never breached during the siege, which led to one of its nicknames being ‘the Maiden City’. Overall, the Siege of Derry has a significant place in the history of Ireland.

The Troubles

In August of 1969, during the Apprentice Boys March in commemoration of the closing of the gates, several individuals threw pennies towards the Catholic majority in Bogside from the city walls. 

This act was viewed as provocative, causing heightened tensions amongst the city’s Catholic population culminating in the Battle of the Bogside. During the Troubles, access to the walls was restricted to the public. 

However, in August of 1973, the Walker Monument was destroyed by an IRA bomb, which was a 100-foot column and statue of siege hero Governor George Walker erected in 1828. Due to its prominence facing the Bogside, many nationalists considered the monument as an offensive symbol of Protestant ascendancy, leading to its destruction. 

The section of the wall containing the monument remained inaccessible until 2010, while the column and statue are yet to be reconstructed.

When is the Best time to visit Derry

Are you considering a trip to Belfast and wondering when the best time to go is? The months of May through October offer a magnificent opportunity to experience Belfast in all its glory. While rain is still possible, the warmer months provide a better chance to bask in some much-needed sunshine and enjoy everything the city has to offer. 

Summer is the peak season in Belfast, with the bustling city embracing locals and visitors alike with open arms. From mid-June to early September, the city shines with endless possibilities for adventure and exploration. Mark your calendar and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey to the vibrant and beautiful city of Belfast!

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Currency Used in Northern Ireland?

In the region of Northern Ireland, the official currency is the pound sterling. As per the conversion scale, one pound sterling is equal to a total of one hundred pence. The available notes for use in day-to-day transactions commonly include those of £5, £10, £20, and £50 in their monetary denomination.

How many Days should I Spend in Derry?

The recommended duration for sightseeing in Derry can be subjective depending on the extent of activities one intends to engage in and the amount of time allocated for the trip. However, it is advised to spend no less than 48 hours in Derry to fully appreciate the plethora of historical and cultural attractions that the city offers.

Derry walking and Political Tour

Explore the fascinating history of the medieval walled city of Derry with an insightful walking tour led by two knowledgeable local guides. Gain a unique perspective on the city’s complex past as you hear from guides representing differing political beliefs. 

Discover key historical events, such as The Siege of Derry, Battle of the Bogside, civil rights movements, and Bloody Sunday, through the eyes of these engaging guides.

Learn the origin of the Unionist rallying cry “No Surrender” and the nationalist slogan “Free Derry” in this thought-provoking tour. Your visit includes a guided walk along the city walls which provides a glimpse into the original street layout still visible today. 

Additionally, explore the Bogside area outside the old town walls as your guides recount the area’s historical significance. Book your tour today and gain a deeper appreciation for the history and culture of this remarkable city.

Derry walking and Political Tour

You could spend hours browsing this state-of-the-art museum, but if you’re pressed for time don’t miss the Armada Room, with artifacts retrieved from the 1588 wreck of the Spanish galleon Girona; the Egyptian Room, with Takabuti, a 2500-year-old Egyptian mummy unwrapped in Belfast in 1835; and the Early Peoples Gallery, with the bronze Bann Disc, a superb example of Celtic design from the Iron Age.

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Discover Irish Isle offers a range of resources to help visitors plan a trip to Ireland. Our blog post highlights the best things to do in the area and provides insider tips to ensure visitors have an unforgettable experience. 

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