Looking for things to do in Derry? We spent one night in Derry after completing the Causeway Coastal Route so hopefully we can suggest some locations to those planning to visit.
Is it Derry or Londonderry?
Officially it’s Londonderry though most of the locals now refer to it as Derry. Indeed even the council started to refer to it as Derry some years ago. In the past you would find the nationalists ‘Catholics’ would call it Derry whereas the unionists ‘Protestants’ would call it Londonderry. The term Derry does seem to be winning out with locals, perhaps because almost 70% of the population now identify as being Catholic.
However you chose to refer to it, this is Northern Ireland’s 2nd biggest city after Belfast. Like Belfast it has been a focus of past ‘troubles’ and is also famous for political murals.
Just like Belfast, Derry residents from both sides of the political spectrum have used murals to make political statements. The area where the Catholic murals are mostly located is known as the ‘Bogside’ area. These often refer to famous events in Derry history, though many also equate what they see as their struggle with struggles overseas like the black civil rights movement in America or the Apartheid movement in South Africa.
For context you can also visit murals in protestant areasof the city. These will refer to those murdered by the IRA or date further back to the Battle of The Boyne in 1690, where ‘King Billy’ defeated the Catholic army of James II. The protestant murals often include the Union Jack flag or other symbols of ‘loyalty’ to Britain like the monarchy. Indeed you are likely to see more Union Jack flags flying in such an area than you would in any other British city (apart from a Jubilee celebration perhaps).
With the worst of the ‘troubles’ over you begin to see more non political murals popping up. One such mural is that representing the TV programme ‘Derry Girls’ which has certainly brought the city into the minds of a more modern audience.
There are a number of interesting buildings and constructions, both old and new in Derry. For a start it has two cathedrals, St Eugene’s Cathedral and St Columb’s Cathedral which is the photograph at the top of this article. For those looking for other interesting buildings to photograph to perhaps put on your Instagram feed, two that we enjoyed visiting were the Guildhall and the modern Peace Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.
Derry City Walls
For those who have a week in the city there are a number of other places to visit, including a number of museums that help explain the history of the city. For those spending just one night here or perhaps just visiting for a weekend you will probably decide to do a Derry City Walls tour. You can either walk the walls yourself or join a guided tour which takes just over an hour and run multiple times a day. There are not that many cities in the UK that have a complete city wall and you get a good view of the city below from these walls.
It was just a fleeting visit for us though as we would cross into the Republic of Ireland in the morning to continue the adventure.