A view out over the city from part of the wall
The city of Londonderry/Derry as it is known today was first founded in the 1600s as part of the Plantation of Ulster; this was a plan by the British monarchy to shore up bastions of influence in Northern Ireland where they'd received serious resistance to English control over Ireland. Ulster at this time was viewed as under-populated and as such was ripe for this influx of English and Scottish immigrants. Following the destruction of the original Derry by Cahir O’Doherty, the new city of Derry was planned and constructed by a number of London livery companies with the walls completed in 1619. Throughout the city's history, the walls and fortified gates were tested many a time but none compare to Siege of Derry in 1689 when the city was besieged for 105 days by Jacobite forces during the Williamite War and helped turn the tide of the war in Ireland.
Today, Londonderry is the only remaining walled city in all of Ireland and one of the finest examples in Europe. The walls stretch round the circumference of the old city and have never been breached in their almost 400 year history. You can walk the walls and take advantage of their views over much of the city. Imagine what it would have been like during the Siege of Derry; to be surrounded and constantly bombarded for months with only these walls for protection. To drive the point home, that these walls were once key to a city’s survival, the original cannons can be found along the walls entire circumference. There are 24 cannons here and, unlike many elsewhere, their origins are precisely known. The largest of the cannons, the Roaring Meg, can be found on the double bastion and is a wonder to behold.
As a central part of Londonderry/Derry’s history, the city walls must be seen as part of any trip to the city. It might not take very long but it is definitely worth doing. Also the old part of the city held within these walls includes a lot of historic buildings like St. Columb Cathedral and the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall. Londonderry/Derry is a city filled with history, some of which impacted the whole of Northern Ireland, and the city walls are definitely the best place to start a visit to the city.
Self Catering in County Londonderry
Self Catering in Northern Ireland
Words by John Temke