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Welcome to Derry

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Towns in Down
Dungiven Derry City

Sitting on the west bank of the river Foyle, St. Columcille founded his famous monastery here. Known as Derry Columcille, its original Gaelic name was Daire Calgaigh (place of the oaks). In 1609 when the English Government decided to rebuild this medieval town, an agreement was forged with the city of London to provide builders and settlers to the area, hence its official name Londonderry. Still a matter of political controversy than one of simple custom.

The Second City of Northern Ireland, Derry has much to offer in the way of cultural history, full of cultural artefacts and historic beauty. The city walls erected in 1619 are amongst the finest in Europe and the only complete city walls in Ireland today, standing 20-ft-tall, 30-ft-wide and a mile in circumference. For fine views why not walk around the top of the walls or take a guided tour in the summer. It is within these historic walls of Derry where the foundations of the first monastery of Ireland were laid in the 6th Century, the present day site of Long Tower Church, an 18th Century Catholic Church associated with the 12th Century monastic period. Just inside the walls you will also encounter the award winning Tower Museum where the history of the city ' The Story of Derry' is reviewed from prehistoric times with the use of high-tech audio-visual display.

Encircled by Derry's 17th Century walls are the old city centre and the main Town Square, The Diamond. The streets and alleys spread outwards from the Diamond and the four main streets connect the four main gates of the city - Bishop's Gate (built in 1788 to commemorate the Siege of Derry in 1688/9), Ferry-quay Gate, Ship-quay Gate and Butcher's Gate. These old walls of Derry surround all the main tourist areas except the Waterloo district (popular for shopping, situated north of the walls). On the southern side of the old city stands the Anglican Cathedral, St. Columb's. Its stained glass depicts scenes from the great siege of 1688/9.

The Guildhall, a Victorian gothic building originally built in 1890 is also worth a visit for its impressive stained glass window display. For all you locomotive enthusiasts, the Foyle Valley Railway Centre nearby with its railroad paraphernalia is a must.

For a glimpse into Derry's underside and troubled past, The Fountain and Bog-side districts, you have to go beyond the City walls. The famous Republican Bog-side district is to the west of the walls and on the East Side of the river Foyle is the Loyalist Waterside. In present times of peace tensions rise during the Orange Order's commemorations of the Siege of Derry in mid August.

Derry City, a lively place, is famous for its night life, with one of the largest college-age population in Ireland.

With cash prizes of £1000, why not bring along your guitar and try your talents at the annual Busking Festival in mid August.

If you're planning on visiting at the end of October to coincide with Halloween, then you are in for a treat. A time of great festivities, the entire city gets decked out in their wildest costumes, it's this simple, no pub will serve you a drink without one. The annual Arts Festival follows these festivities.

For a relaxing family break, relax on some of Europe's best ocean strands. Benone's Seven-Mile Strand caters for all the family. Look up and catch a glimpse of Mussenden Temple that is built on the cliff top overlooking Downhill beach and Benone Strand. This temple served as the Earl-Bishop of Derry's cliff-top retreat.

South West of Derry city is Strabane, a busy town with a Scottish look and famous by association. Before immigrating to America in 1809, the Grandfather of President Woodrow Wilson worked in Main Street Gray's printing works (still operating but now the property of the National Trust) and was born in Dergault, 2 miles south east of Strabane. Another famous employee of the printing works here in Strabane was John Dunlop (1747-1812) who later issued the 'Pennsylvania Packet', America's first daily paper. He was also the first to print The Declaration of Independence.

Officially called Newtown Limavady, Limavady is situated north east of Derry City. A pleasant Georgian town, home to Roe Valley Country Park, with picturesque nature walks and bird watching opportunities.

Northeast of Limavady is Coleraine, a lovely harbour town with excellent shopping facilities, a hot spot amongst those visitors who like to indulge in a bit of retail therapy. Beside the river on the south west of the town is Mount Sandel Fort, the site of one of the earliest known human settlements in Ireland dating from 7000 BC.

Co Derry has a multitude of experiences awaiting you. With some of the country's best golf courses and the Sperrin Mountains to the south of the county, and some of the best fishing in river and sea, not only has Derry a cultural past but it has a vibrant present. With such a variety of things to do and see, you will want to stay longer.

Neighbouring Counties
Antrim | Donegal | Tyrone
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