Doire, Derry, Londonderry… Legenderry!
Let’s confuse things a bit: Doire, the Gaelic work for oak leaf, is where Derry originally got its name; then there’s Londonderry which the unionists call it as well as all legal documents, but then there’s Derry, which the Irish nationalists and local government dub the city. Signs point to Londonderry as well as Derry and Doire, but locals refer to it simply as “Legenderry,” and there’s no arguing why.
My first impression of the medieval city was this: I want to spend MORE time here, and I want to do it NOW. Derry is one of those places, for me at least, that I visited for a day, but left with the feeling that if I had more time, the city would have quickly catapulted into one of my favorites in my huge book of personal favorites.
Derry, once one of the most feared places in the world, has a long list of conflicts and battles. Most famously known as the site of Bloody Sunday, that same street today is now colored in murals and memorials. I stood in that same square and walked the same street that claimed the lives of 14 people, which was once full of grief and loss, and now today full of hope and remembrance; I instantly fell in love with the walled city, and I definitely owe it to the story telling of a very amazing man, Garvin.
I had the opportunity to take an award-winning walking tour which ended up being the absolute BEST walking tour I have ever been on. One detail that stood out the most and singled this company out from of heaps of other walking tours was: personal experience and stories. Garvin spoke of living through Derry’s struggles, including Bloody Sunday, and the loss of his good friend in the gunfire of that very massacre. He captivated the entire group and left us speechless.
One thing you can’t escape when in Northern Ireland are the conflicts between those who want to stick to the British settlement roots and those who do not (most heavily seen in Belfast). So, depending on which side you might be on, determines what you call Derry/Londonderry. When the British settled, they built walls to secure their settlements and to keep the Irish out. Half of the walking tour was based around the murals and the site of Bloody Sunday, and the other was based around the walled city which still stands today.
Rather than recap the historical facts of how the British army fired their shots into a massive crowd of protesters, taking the lives of innocent people, or the conflicts Northern Ireland has faced which has shaped Derry into the city it is today, I will let the pictures and murals speak for themselves….
A HUGE thanks to Shamrocker Adventures for hosting my travels and letting me experience the “Legenderry” history of the fantastic city of Derry! And an extra special thanks to Garvin, from Martin McCrossan City Tours for sharing his personal stories of the conflicts and loss. All opinions, like always, are my own.
Very interesting post. Makes such a difference when your guide is local, doesn’t it?! Our guide in Belfast was also someone who lived all her life there and so her stories really resonated with me. I didn’t know a whole lot about the “Troubles” prior to my visit but have been researching books and articles ever since.
Local guides are the only way to go. I had local guides in Belfast, too, but I honestly couldn’t keep up with the tour there. Between the strong accents and switching of guides (we went between Protestant and Catholic guides to give us different perspectives), it was too much. I definitely want to spend more time in Derry… such a great little city!