Derry, or Londonderry, is Northern Ireland’s second city and a leading light in the ongoing cultural revival taking place in the north of the country. It’s the only completely Walled City in the British Isles and walking around this 17th Century boundary is a good place to start a tour. On the way ,you can stop off at the many historical attractions woven within them including the Gothic cathedral of St Columb, the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall and the Courthouse.
Since the peace process, Derry has emerged as an exciting cosmopolitan city with a young population with plenty of modern bars, clubs, restaurants and thriving music scene. There are still many traditional pubs where you can prop up the bar with the friendly and welcoming locals however. BUT - you will quickly find out that the Derry accent is challenging to say the least - and very loud and fast!
Derry is home to a number of museums including the Workhouse Museum illustrating the terrible conditions during the Irish Famine – and The People’s Gallery – telling the story of the Bogside Artists who painted murals depicting Derry’s years of turbulent history and unrest.
Derry’s Top 10
10. Prehen House is home to one of Ireland’s best known love stories – the legend of Half Hung Mc Naughton.
5. The Nerve Centre is a multimedia arts centre set up to encourage talented youngsters in the fields of art, music and film.
9. Millennium Form is Ireland’s biggest theatrical auditorium and major venue for dance, drama, concerts, opera and musicals.
4. The Harbour Museum may be small and old-fashioned but packs in plenty of marine memorabilia including a busty figurehead Minnehaha.
8. Derry Playhouse stages dance and theatre and houses the Context Gallery of local art.
3. Hands Across the Divide Monument A striking bronze sculpture of two men reaching out to each other – a symbol of reconciliation and hope.
7. Austins in Derry is the world’s oldest independent department store, circa 1830.
2. The Railway Museum Find out about Derry’s railway heritage and its four railway companies.
6. Foyleside Shopping Centre is a huge 4 storey complex just outside Derry’s city walls. Marks and Sparks et al.
1. Tower Museum is considered the city’s best and tells it like it is from Derry’s birth in 542 to the troubles and modern times.
Taking pride of place on the Derry events calendar is The Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival . Ireland’s largest street carnival with over 40,000 people take to the streets.
In March you can’t miss the St Patrick’s Day celebrations take over Derry. Get some beauty sleep in because it could be along night.
March sees Derry’s Drama Festival come to town so unleash your inner thesp and come along.
The cream of International jazz turns up during May for the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival.
The Foyle Regatta is a colourful highlight of fun and messing about on the river is compulsory at this event with races, entertainment and stalls.
The Big Tickle Comedy Festival will make you smile during September in Derry.
The City of Song Festival is held in Late September and is jam packed with musicians, known in Derry as the SongFest.
Northern Ireland International Air Show is a fun event organised by City of Derry Airport, featuring some spectacular displays of derring-do in the skies.
The November Foyle Film Festival is the biggest of its kind in Northern Ireland with a host of international names descending on Derry.
Christmas illuminations Dates vary, but the Christmas Season officially starts when the lights get switched on in Derry.
When to Go
· Derry, like the rest of Ireland has a temperate climate overall and big variations in temperature are rare. The sunniest months are likely to be between May and July where you can expect up to 7 hours of sunshine a day and December is the dullest month with an average one hour of sunshine.
· Average daily temperatures during the summer are around 18°C and during January about 5°C. Temperatures however can and do get far higher or lower during hot or cold spells.
· Rainfall is greatest in December and January with rain expected on nearly half the days of the year, so it pays to pack plenty of waterproof clothing no matter what time of year you come.
· The City of Derry Airport operates flights to Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and London Stansted, as well as many others. Ulsterbus runs a Translink bus service between the airport and the city centre which costs around £2.70, with a taxi setting you back around £12.
· By train the journey between Belfast and Derry takes just over 2 hours – some of the journey offering scenic views over the shores of Lough Foyle.
· By road Derry is on the A6 – sign-posted Londonderry via Dungiven. Alternatively take the scenic drive along the Antrim Coast where you will pass the Giant’s Causeway. Bus Eireann runs a frequent service between Derry, Silgo, Galway, Limerick and Cork as well as Dublin and Belfast.
Attractions & Activities
Northern Ireland’s admirable second city, behind Belfast, is home to a proud community and rich heritage. Derry is still synonymous with the Troubles for many and indeed, has a long history of sectarian tension and unrest. With the passage of time and development of relative “Celtic Tiger” prosperity on the Emerald Isle however, change has come to Derry and with it, waves of new international arrivals.
Of course, as the home of the infamous Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972 (familiar to some only as a U2 song), visitors do make a point to visit the Derry ‘hood of Bogside and marvel at the nonpareil murals of Tom Kelly, William Kelly and Kevin Hasson. Known as the Bogside Artists, the trio took it upon themselves to transform the scarred enclave of town into a commemorative canvas in 1993. The brilliant ensemble of collaborative urban art is now a remarkable showcase for Derry. The town’s history extends way beyond Northern Ireland’s record of religious strife however. To wit, Derry is the only city on the island of Ireland with intact medieval walls. Standout points of interest to consider on your of this superb town of 85,000 people include the Museum of Free Derry, the Guildhall and the cathedrals of Saint Eugene and Saint Columb.
- Saint Eugene’s Cathedral
- Saint Columb’s Cathedral
- Derry Guildhall
- Museum of Free Derry
- Derry City Walls
- The Millennium Forum
- The Bogside Murals
- Derry City Football Club at Brandywell Stadium
- Northern Ireland International Air Show
- Maiden City Festival
Restaurants & Nightlife
- Boston Tea Party
- Grillroom Restaurant
- Mange 2
- Brown’s Restaurant and Champagne Lounge
- Bound For Boston
- The Metro
- Oak Grove
- Mason’s Bar
- Spirit Bar
Derry has a temperate maritime climate, with mild weather and moderate to heavy rainfall throughout the year.
- Winter (December to March) 2-9°C
- Spring (April to May) 4-14°C
- Summer (June to August) 9-18°C
- Fall (September to November) 4-16°C
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