One of the issues being looked at by the architecture students from Queen’s University SPACE is the presentation of the most stunning gate in the Derry Walls – Bishop Gate. The original gate was replaced in 1789 by the present structure – Derry’s Arc de Triomph. The gate’s design was commissioned by the Earl Bishop, Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. The Irish architect was Henry Aaron Baker, with the sculpted heads representing the gods of River Foyle (without) and the River Boyne (within) designed by Irish sculptor, Edward Smyth, who had sculptured the thirteen riverine heads on the Dublin Custom House in c.1784.
The foundation stone was laid on the 12th August 1789 on the centenary of the Breaking of the Boom and the Relief of Derry in a ceremony led by the Anglican Bishop Hervey, the Catholic Bishop McDevitt and the Presbyterian Minister Black. During the Troubles, Bishop’s Gate was used as a security feature with blast-proof metal gates installed and an army observation post on top. Since then, the Gate has become part of Derry’s “peace wall”, separating the communities of the Fountain, Long Tower and Bogside.
The Street Society students are looking at opportunities to better present Bishop Gate, making it an essential backdrop for any souvenir photograph for visitors and a pleasant spot for citizens to pause to take in the best of Irish architecture and sculpture.