The Craft Village
Take a step back in time when you visit the charming Craft Village located in the heart of the city centre. The Craft Village is a portrayal of life in Derry between the 16th and 19th centuries and successfully combines retail, workshop and residential units in a unique setting. The Craft Village provides an exciting alternative to shopping as we know it today. Wander at your leisure through the workshops, watch skilled craftspeople at work, check out your Irish roots in the Genealogy Centre or relax and enjoy a well-earned rest in the Fort Inn licensed restaurant which offers a full lunch, snack and dinner menu.
Situated outside the original walled city and not far from the River Foyle is the Guildhall. The original Guildhall was built in 1890 by the Corporation, but in 1908 it was badly damaged by a fire which left only the main Places to Visitouter walls standing. It was rebuilt by 1912 and remained untouched until the interior was again destroyed, this time by a bomb, in 1972. The interior was reconstructed anew and many of the oak panels and stained-glass windows had to be replaced. Most of the stained-glass work has been carried out by Ulster craftsmen. One particularly good example is the reproduction of Follingby’s painting The Relief of Derry. The neogothic-style building is constructed of rock-faced sandstone and has one of the largest four-faced clocks in the British Isles.
The council chamber within is richly ornamented and contains a beautiful range of stained-glass windows presented by the London Livery Companies. Among the many interesting artefacts held in the Guildhall is the Mayor’s chain of office which was presented to the city by William III. Not only is the Guildhall an impressive piece of architecture but it is also a civic and cultural centre for the people of Derry. Many concerts, plays, exhibitions and meetings are held there throughout the year. Open from 9.00am to 5.00pm. Contact the Derry Visitor & Convention Bureau on T: 7126 7284; www.derryvisitor.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. Guided tours during July and August.
St Columb's Cathedral
St Columb’s Cathedral is the first in the British Isles to have been built after the Reformation and is a fine example of Planters’ Gothic. It was built by the Irish Society between 1628 and 1633 and the stone which records its completion can be seen in the cathedral porch. It underlines the influences which brought about not only the building of the cathedral but the city itself:
If stones could speake
Then London’s prayse
Should sound who
Built this Church and Cittie
From the grounde.
When first built, the cathedral had a wooden spire covered with lead but this was removed prior to the Great Siege. It is said that this lead was later fashioned into bullets and cannon shot which were fired from the cathedral roof during the siege. A new spire of cut freestone was built in 1778 and crowned with a large gilt copper ball and weather vane. It became unsafe and had to be removed in 1802 and replaced by the present-day spire (57m). Many interesting historical relics are held in the cathedral such as Bishop Bramhall’s consecration chair of 1633 and the locks and keys of the four original city Gates. St Columb’s Cathedral played an important role in the lives of the inhabitants of Derry down the centuries. It was the physical
and spiritual focus of the defenders’ resistance against hostile forces, especially those of King James II, during the Great Siege. In the ensuing years, the cathedral has evolved into an historical monument to the city’s tumultuous past. T: 7126 7313; www.stcolumbscathedral.org.
The Courthouse, completed in 1817, is an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture. It was built mostly of white sandstone from Dungiven and is surmounted by statues representing Justice and Peace.
This was the site of previous Town Halls until the Guildhall was built on a different location. The war memorial, which now occupies the site, was erected in 1927. Its winged centrepiece figure represents Victory.
A fine example of Georgian architecture, the current deanery dates from 1833 and replaced an earlier version built in 1720. A feature is the side gateway entrance to the former stables at the rear of the house.
The Tower Museum
Derry City Council’s Tower Museum was opened in 1992 and has won the Irish and British Museum of the Year awards. The Tower Museum houses two permanent exhibitions, whilst also hosting temporary and travelling exhibitions throughout the year. The ‘Story of Derry’ exhibition has reopened following extensive refurbishment work. It is a multi-media retrospective on the city’s history. The Museum also houses ‘La Trinidad Valencera – Armada in Ireland’ exhibition. The exhibition contains artefacts recovered in Kinnagoe Bay, County Donegal, in the 1970s, from a galleon shipwrecked in 1588. The Museum is also the headquarters of the Education Service.
The Museum site was originally known as the O’Doherty Tower and was built in the 1980s. It stands close to the site of a castle built by the famous O’Doherty clan of Ulster in the 16th century.
Admission fee applies. Opening hours: Tue-Sat 10am-4.30pm (check local press for Bank Holiday opening times). T: 7137 2411; www.derrycity.gov.uk/museums
The Masonic Hall
There has been a building on this site in Bishop Street Within since the Plantation of Ulster by the English at the beginning of the 17th century when the Londoners erected a dwelling for the then Protestant
bishop of Derry. The present building was erected in 1753 during the Episcopate of Bishop Barnard (1747-68) and largely reconstructed by his successor the Earl Bishop (1768-1803). In 1798 the palace was used as a barracks. It was repaired by Bishop Knox (1803-31) after its use by the military. It was the official residence of the bishops of Derry (and Raphoe) until 1945 when it was sold to the Masonic Order and is the Headquarters of Freemasonry for the North West of Ireland. Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander, the famous hymn writer and wife of Bishop Alexander, lived here (1867-96); her husband was transferred to Armagh in 1896 as Primate of all Ireland. She is thought to have written many of her hymns in the palace. A plaque outside the Hall commemorates her sojourn in Derry.
The Museum of Free Derry & Bloody Sunday Memorial
This exhibition and archive space was officially opened in Glenfada Park in January 2007, an area that witnessed several deaths and woundings on Bloody Sunday in January 1972. It houses a unique and comprehensive mutli-media collection of artefacts, documents, posters, images and recordings capturing the historic events of the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and the Free Derry/early Troubles period of the 1970s.
Directly opposite the museum is the Bloody Sunday memorial plinth and remembrance area. It lists the names of the fourteen innocent civilians shot dead in the surrounding area by paratroopers during an anti-internment march on 30 January 1972, now referred to as Bloody Sunday. An official British Government inquiry (instigated in 1998 and headed up by British Law Lord Lord Saville) to examine the events of the day and those leading up to it is yet to be published.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am-4.30pm; Sat & Sun 1.00pm-4.00pm (Summer only). T: 7136 0880; www.museumoffreederry.org.
The Workhouse Museum
The Workhouse Museum is a restored 19th-century workhouse on Glendermott Road, Waterside. The two-floor museum includes an extensive display titled ‘The Atlantic Memorial’, a reference to the extensive role played by the city in the Second World War. Free admission. Opening hours: Mon-Thur, Saturday 10am-4.30pm. T: 7131 8328; www.derrycity.gov.uk/museums
The Genealogy Centre
Established in 1982, and based in the Craft Village, the Genealogy Centre has built up a database, which stands at over one million entries, of the major civil and church records for County Derry/Londonderry and the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal. The earliest record in their database, extracted from the registers of St Columb’s Cathedral, is dated 1642. The Centre offers a fee-paying research service of this database. Surname histories can be purchased online at www.irishgenealogy.ie. T: 7126 9792.
The Harbour Museum
The Harbour Museum was the former headquarters of the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners. The building was erected in 1884 to house the public and private offices of the port. It is the headquarters of Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum Service, which includes the city’s Archive Service. The eclectic display includes archives and artefacts relating to the city’s maritime history. Free admission. Opening hours: Mon-Friday 10am-4.30pm (closed 1-2pm for lunch). T: 7137 7331; www.derrycity.gov.uk/museums
The Glenaden Shirt Exhibition
At one time in the early 20th century, Derry had nearly forty shirt factories, produced five million shirts a year and employed almost 6,000 people, mostly women. The history of 150 years of shirt making in Derry is depicted in this captivating exhibition in Trench Road, Waterside. T: 7134 4353; www.glenaden.com.
Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau
The Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau at 44 Foyle Street provides comprehensive facilities to meet the needs of the ever-increasing numbers of visitors to the North West, including an all-Ireland accommodation
booking service, a wide range of free tourism literature, maps etc, bureau de change, gift shop and guided tours. There has never been a better time to sample the many delights of this historic walled city and the Bureau will ensure that your stay here is as carefree and comfortable as possible. Opening hours: 9.00am-5.00pm Mon-Fri. Seasonal variations: Easter-June and October, as before plus Sat 10.00am-5.00pm; July-Sept: 9.00am-7.00pm Mon-Fri, 10.00am-6.00pm Sat, 10.00am-5.00pm Sun. T: 7126 7284; F: 7137 7992; www.derryvisitor.com; email@example.com.
The Foyle Valley Railway Centre (currently closed)
Derry today is served by just one railway system, which reaches to Belfast, Dublin and beyond. At one time,however, it was served by four different systems which stretched throughout N Ireland, into Co Donegal and deep into southern Ireland. This Centre houses an exhibition of memorabilia of that golden age’. It also has a working diesel rail car which runs on a short but picturesque track through the nearby Riverside Park.
The first bridge over the River Foyle was a wooden one built in 1790.It was assembled in America and transported to Derry to be positioned in the Bridge Street area some 90m north of the present bridge. In 1863, a steel bridge (Carlisle Bridge) was erected almost where Craigavon Bridge is today – replacing the old wooden structure. The present Craigavon Bridge, built 1929-1933, is the only existing example of a double-decker bridge in the United Kingdom. The lower deck was originally used for rail traffic before being converted to a roadway.
Historically Derry’s fourth bridge, the award-winning Foyle Bridge, was officially opened in October 1984. For the first time in its history, Derry has two bridges spanning the Foyle at the same time. It provides a dual two-lane carriageway across the river downstream of the city, three kilometres northeast of Craigavon Bridge. It was the first bridge in Ireland to be built according to a ‘Design and Construct’ system, whereby the same firm designs and constructs the bridge.
University of Ulster - Magee College
Situated in its own sweeping grounds on a slight hill overlooking the Foyle, Magee College is an impressive landmark in Derry. It was constructed in 1856-56 in a neogothic-style and faced with Scottish freestone. A number of redbrick houses, used for accommodation and teaching purposes, cluster around the main college building. Mr D Ferguson, curator of the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, laid out the gardens in 1865. In 1879, Magee became one of the constituent colleges of the Royal University of Ireland and in 1909 was affiliated to Trinity College in Dublin. Since October 1984, Magee has become a full campus of the multi-campus University of Ulster. It offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate, adult and continuing education courses, both part time and full time. The centrally situated campus is rapidly expanding, with new buildings, equipment and services coming on stream annually. It also houses the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies, co-ordinated by Dr W Kelly. (T:7137 5612). Magee: T: 7137 1371; www.ulster.ac.uk/campus/magee
St Becan's Church Ruins
These ruins, situated in St Columb’s Park in the Waterside area, are said to be the remains of the oldest building in Derry, the Chapel of St Brecan. Located in a quiet woodland by the side of the River Foyle, they date back to the 6th century.RIVERWATCH VISITOR CENTREThis fascinating Centre (right) in Victoria Road presents the natural environment and fish stock of Foyle and Carlingford Loughs in a multi-media format. It houses new mini-aquarium tanks which provide an exciting window to the underwater world for all the family. Open Mon-Fri 10.00am to 2.00pm. T: 7134 2100;
Prehen House was the focus for the legend of Half Hanged MacNaghten which dates back to the 18th century yet still captures the local imagination. This controversial tragedy has all the elements of a great story – rich families, fiery love affair, abduction and death, and defiant heroism. The house retains all the features of sophisticated early-Georgian architecture and its paintings and artefacts are open to public viewing. T: 7134 2829; www.prehen.net
Amelia Earhart Cottage / Ballyarnett Country Park
This exhibition centre, located in Ballyarnett Country Park to the north of Derry, was erected to commemorate the landing of Amelia Earhart in the adjacent field after her historic flight in May 1932 when she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Derry City Council’s Museum Services have a small working model of her Lockheed Vega aircraft on display. T: 7135 4040.
Long Tower Church
This most beautiful of old churches was built in 1786 on the site of Derry’s first cathedral, the Teampall Mór which stood between the 12th and 16th centuries. St Columb had founded his first monastery on the same site in 546. Originally, the church had an earthen floor and held 2,000 people standing. Galleries were added and many other improvements made over the years. In 1908, the church was extensively remodelled and today it houses many fine statues, shrines, paintings, murals and stained-glass windows.
The last remaining tower of Derry Jail, built in Bishop Street Without in 1791 and demolished in the 1970s. Now used as a Heritage Centre housing artefacts from WWI to the present day.
St Augustine's Church
Originally, this was the site of an ancient Augustinian abbey on which, in 1600, Sir Henry Docwra, then in charge of the Elizabethan army in the area, built a church for the settlers which they used until St Columb’s Cathedral was built. The present building was erected in 1872, replacing the previous 'Chapel of Ease’.
First Derry Presbyterian Church
A church has stood on this site in Magazine Street since the early 18th century. The present building has a large Corinthian portico designed by WE Pinkerton in 1903 which leads to a simple hall church built in 1780.
St Eugene's Cathedral
The foundation stone for this cathedral was laid on 26 July 1851 but it was not until 4 May 1873 that Dr Kelly, Bishop of Derry, actually dedicated it. The spire was added in 1902, as was the carillon of bells which first rang out on the Christmas Eve of that year. Built of Newry sandstone, the tower is 77m high with a 2.4m granite cross on top. The stained-glass work was designed by Meyer of Munich and installed in 1891. In 1905, the grounds and gate lodge were completed. T: 7126 2894.