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The Northern Half of the Island of Ireland


overcast 65 °F

Today is the day to explore Derry one of the most volatile areas of the United Kingdom because of the dissention between the Protestants and Catholics. Derry is the only remaining completely intact walled city in Ireland, and one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. The walls constitute the largest monument in State care in Northern Ireland and, as part of the last walled city to be built in Europe, stand as the most complete and spectacular.The Walls were built in 1613–1619 by The Honourable The Irish Society as defences for early 17th-century settlers from England and Scotland. The Walls, which are approximately one mile (1.5 kilometres) in circumference and which vary in height and width between 3.7 and 10.7 metres (12 and 35 feet), 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. The architect was Peter Benson, a London-born builder, who was rewarded with several grants of land. It is one of the few cities in Europe that never saw its fortifications breached, withstanding several sieges, including the famous Siege of Derry in 1689 which lasted 105 days; hence the city's nickname, The Maiden City.


Our first stop was the Tower Museum which gave us a wonderful history of Derry. The museum is located in Union Hall Place, within a historic tower just inside the city walls, near the Guildhall. The museum has two permanent exhibits; The Story of Derry which presents the history of Derry from its prehistoric origins to the present, and An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera which details the local shipwreck from the Spanish Armada.

We then walked to the Museum of Free Derry followed by the memorial to Bloody Sunday..very impressive for those of us of a certain age. The Museum of Free Derry is a museum located in Derry, Northern Ireland that focuses on the 1960s civil rights era known as The Troubles and the Free Derry Irish nationalist movement in the early 1970s. Located in the Bogside district, the museum's exhibits include photographs, posters, film footage, letters and personal artifacts.


Our last walk by was the first church of Derry - St. Augustine's, followed by St. Columba Cathedral. St. Augustine’s, fondly known as ‘the Wee Church on the Walls’, sits on the Grand Parade of Derry’s Walls on the site of St. Columba’s first monastery in Ireland. Columba (Colmcille, meaning Dove of the Church) was born of Royal parentage at Gartan, Co. Donegal in 522AD. After study at Glasnevin, in 546 his cousin Aed, King of Cenel Conaill gave him the oak clad Hill of Derry on which to build his first church. Reluctant to cut down any of his beloved oaks, Columba chose a clearing in the middle of the oakgrove, resulting in the church running north south rather than the usual east west. This unique footprint remains to this day. In 563 Columba travelled down the River Foyle into exile on Iona from where he spread Christianity to pagan Britain and Europe. His Derry monastery continued to flourish and became the leading monastery in Ireland.

The present church was built by William Parratt, from London, and was consecrated in 1633. It is a good example of "Gothic Survival" in the English Gothic architecture of the 17th century, contemporary with the college chapel of Peterhouse, Cambridge. The style has been called "Planter's Gothic". Foundations for a chancel extending the east end were laid in 1633, but the building work advanced no further. In the porch is an inscription:

If stones could speake
then London's prayse
should sound who
built this church and
cittie from the grounde.

After its consecration in 1633, the church was nearly unaltered until the bishop in 1776, Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol, extended the total height of the building to 221 feet (67 m) by building up the tower by 21 feet (6.4 m) and adding a very tall spire. This spire lasted only two decades before it threatened to collapse and was dismantled for rebuilding. The tower was finished in 1802, but the replacement spire was built another two decades later. The original south porch, attached to the hitherto unaltered nave, was removed in 1825, and in 1827 the turrets on either side of the east end were remodelled, with their previously crenellated tops rebuilt with domes.


Posted by rpickett 17:11 Archived in Northern Ireland Tagged derry

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Looks like an amazing place to see. Great photos and history. Thanks Rusty.

by Bruce Sandelin

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