St Columba’s Day in Derry

June 9th is the Feast of St Columba or Columcille the patron saint of Derry. This  veneration is evident in the naming and decoration of churches within and without the Derry Walls. Also important are the St Columb’s Wells, which were marked in both Docwra’s 1600 and Neville’s 1689 maps. Here are some photographs which illustrate this.

Map from 1600 showing St Columb’s Wells.
Map from 1689 showing St Columb’s Wells.
1949 Derry and Glendermot Presbytery Booklet
Long Tower and Nazareth House Primary Schools reenacting key events in the life of Columcille.
St Columb’s Stone


The procession leaves Long Tower Chapel for the annual blessing of the well.


Recent communicants join the procession to the blessing of the well.


Bishop McKeown leads the Blessing of St Columba’s Well
Bishop Donal McKeown helping to draw water from St Columba’s Well.


Mural at the Long Tower Chapel depicting key events in the life of Columcille.


St Augustine’s on the Derry Walls, probable site of the medieval monastery, dedicated to St Columba.
The life of Columba illustrated in the Phillips Window in St Columb’s Cathedral.
Oak leaves in the Long Tower Chapel.


The day the Deputy First Minister turned up for Walls400

We don’t do politics, except those of 400 years ago. However with today’s news, it’s appropriate to mention the day in August 2013 when Martin McGuinness turned up with 1,970 other Derry Londonderry people to form a red line around the rampart tops to mark the 400th anniversary of the start of the building of the Derry Walls. It was quite a surprise to the organisers, since the only formal invitation issued  to a politician had been to the Mayor, Martin O’Reilly. The Deputy First Minister had responded to the open public invitation in a personal capacity, queuing with everyone else to collect his red t-shirt. A demonstration of his personal interest in the Derry Walls, in the shadow of which, Martin McGuinness  grew up. Condolences at this time to his wife, Bernie, his children and his extended family. Photo credits: Stephen Latimer Photography.

Derry Walls Day 2016 moves to Culture Night

Derry Walls Day takes place on Friday 16th September, which is also Culture Night. The key events are The Swordsmith’s Treasure Hunt 4-7pm around the Walled City’s Museums  plus the Walls400 History Lecture at 8pm in St. Columb’s Cathedral. There will be a Living History Afterparty in the Verbal Arts Centre at 9pm. Full details at

Thank you for voting for us!

testThe Friends of the Derry Walls have welcomed the news that both James Nesbitt and Derry’s historic Walls have been named as Northern Ireland’s ‘National Treasures,’ following an online poll to celebrate 20 years of the National Lottery.

Speaking on behalf of the Friends, Coordinator, Mark Lusby thanked the public in Derry, across Northern Ireland and from around the world who voted for the Derry Walls: “It is always a struggle to convince public agencies that the Derry Walls need investment on a scale similar to that being invested in heritage and cultural tourism attractions in other areas of Northern Ireland so this popular vote is especially welcome. The Derry Walls can make a much greater contribution to the economic and social well-being of Derry if we all had higher expectations for their protection and development than is currently the case. The association of a personality as James Nesbitt with the Derry Walls is also a welcome boost to the brand image of the Walls and the Friends would like to see this relationship continue into the future.”

Hands Up! if you think Derry Walls are a National Treasure

DSC_5142Vote Derry Walls by Tuesday 

We need your help to make sure that the Derry Walls are recognised as a national treasure. The Derry Walls and Walls400 have been shortlisted as one of 12 National Treasures in the Northern Ireland regional section of the  National Lottery’s ‘What’s Your National Treasure’ campaign .

The Giant%e2%80%99s Causeway - Co AntrimWe are up against the Albert Clock (Belfast), The Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, The Lyric Theatre (Belfast), The Metropolitan Arts Centre (Belfast), The Odyssey Complex (Belfast), SS Nomadic (Belfast), Sam Thompson Landmark Bridge (Belfast), St Patrick’s Visitor Centre (Downpatrick), The Strule Arts Centre (Omagh), Ulster Hall (Belfast), Ulster Museum (Belfast). Many of these landmark buildings or sites are owned by large public, private and community sector organisations with PR departments at their disposal.

DSC_5061Walls400 and the City Walls Heritage Project is the only dedicated resource working to promote the heritage of the Derry Walls as an educational and economic resource. We are a minnow in comparison to the task and the competition. Hence why we need your personal help and the help of your employer or any other organisation that you are a member of. We need you not only to vote for Derry Walls. We need you to ask your friends and colleagues to also vote for us. Your organisation or employer might be persuaded to adopt this campaign as their own. It  would be great if they could ask all employees/members to also vote for Derry Walls by the Tuesday deadline.

IMG_9113Walls400 is trying to secure significant grant-aid to improve the presentation and understanding of  the Derry Walls and it is important that people, locally, and supporters further afield, use the opportunity of this public vote to send out a loud message to potential funders that we believe that the Derry Walls are a national treasure.

Web BadgeVotes can be cast on  or  until midnight on Tuesday 27 May. People taking part in the survey will be able to share their participation and will also have a chance to win one of five iPad Airs.Copyright Rory O'Doherty Photography (4-3)-12


Ulster Advertising Students get to grips with Derry Walls

Undergrad students doing an Advertising Programme at UU Magee in Derry tackled the challenge of producing themes and advertising copy for Derry Walls Day 2014. The students presented their ideas and the winning team and two runner up teams will receive prizes. The initiative is supported by the UK Heritage Lottery Fund and the Heritage Council of Ireland, with the aim of getting higher education institutions to engage more with Ireland’s walled towns. Thanks to the students for their ideas and enthusiasm. Thanks also to lecturers Edel Griffin and Marion Norwood at the University of Ulster.




Days 3 & 4: QUB’s Street Society & the Missing Bits of Derry Walls

Water Bastion 1After Day 3 of Street Society 2014, drivers parking in spaces next to Derry Walls might have been confused about some extra white lines (temporary ones of course) which appeared overnight. The team of student architects had been there, marking out the layout of the missing Water Bastion. The Londonderry Sentinel reported in June 1844, that the Bastion had partly been taken down, the result of the widening of  a set of steps from this North- East Bastion down to Foyle Street. A deputation from the Irish Society in 1838 had recommended the improvement of what they described as a “postern-gate communicating with Foyle Street” by the addition of a new step. The result today  is that Water Bastion is now one of three missing bastions. An excavation by Nick Brannon in the late 1970s revealed the lozenge shaped plan  of the missing bastion. Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 03.25.36

The students from QUB’s Street Society 2014 are looking at the space between the Central Library and the surviving City Walls, coming up with proposals about how this space might be animated to indicate the underlying archaeology.Water Bastion 2

On Day 4 the students started to draw up concept plans for the all three sites, viz. Water Bastion, Bishop Gate and the Plinth on Royal Bastion. They also looked at how people could be encouraged to explore the exterior of the Walls as well as just using the promenade along the top of the ramparts.    The final concepts plans will be presented at an event on Friday afternoon in QUB’s Elmwood Hall  where all the Street Society 2014 projects will be showcased. It is intended that the student’s ideas will be uploaded to this website to encourage local conversations about how to better present some interesting parts of Derry Walls.Darcus House

The Empty Plinth

IMG_3501The Holywell Trust’s City Walls Heritage Project is working with the Nerve Centre’s Teaching Divided Histories  and Public Image – Events to create a light installation on the Plinth on Royal Bastion on the City Walls. Entitled ‘the Empty Plinth’  the artwork is part of the four day Lumiere Festival of Light in Derry from 28th November to 1st December. The emptiness of the Plinth will be be filled with a simple, pure beam of white light.  This week’s light installation is the first of the series of artworks planned for 2013/4 to bring the Plinth and Bastion alive, reclaiming these contested spaces for everyone in Derry. For more information click here.

The Hearth Stone on which Docwra’s Dinner was cooked?

A large  tooled block of stone which was used as a hearth stone sometime in the early 17th C or late 16th C
A large tooled block of stone which was used as a hearth stone sometime in the early 17th C or late 16th C

It was the skeletons which captured the public and media attention in the QUB archaeological dig in the grounds of the former Bishop’s Palace Gardens. However it is the artefacts in the time horizon’s beneath them, which have most potential to tell us more about the monastic and plantation settlements on the island hill of Derry.  One of the most interesting finds, by the Queen’s University archaeologists, has been a large block of stone overlaid by the a patch of reddish soil, indicating burning. Tool marks are evident on the block of stone showing that it was formally sculpted to fit in some form of structure. Archaeologists and local historians believe that this stone was reused as a hearth stone. Such a fire could have been used by the English soldiers to cook their meals inside Docwra’s  walls which then surrounded the hill of Derry. Equally there is a great deal of speculation about the original use of the tooled block of stone. When it is excavated next week and turned over, will it reveal the carved text “Foundation Stone of Colmcille’s Abbey”! Not likely, but perhaps equally interesting evidence will be discovered. The dig site was also littered with big-wigs  last week; hopefully they will followup their media appearances with real investment in the heritage of the Hill of Derry.

Meet the Intern: Beth Ellis

(Featured picture – being Introduced to Rev. Malcolm Ferry of St Augustine’s)

Hi everyone, my name is Beth and I will be joining the Friends of the Derry Walls team for the next month as an intern. I have just recently graduated in Advertising from Ulster University, and will be working to help with marketing and promoting the Derry Walls as a cultural destination. The walls themselves encircle a variety of civic and community based museums, arts venues and craft shops that tell the stories of Derry, and I see that it’s important for these elements to be leveraged with regards to tourism in Derry.

Spending the last 4 years studying in Derry, I have grown to love the city which is full of history and heritage. During my degree I was lucky enough to work on projects related to the Derry Walls and various local organisations in Derry; I believe it’s really essential to appreciate the place you live in and I’ve found the experience of working with local businesses to be highly rewarding.

I have also had previous experience working in tourism during my placement year at Tourism Ireland, where I dealt with the management and sourcing of content related to marketing the island of Ireland as a tourism destination.

I look forward to the next 5 weeks of contributing ideas and using my skills in content development and social media, to work towards enhancing the way in which the Derry Walls are marketed.

East Wall

An interesting undated photograph from a collection of images curated by the late Annesley Malley. Taken in Market Street looking the length of East Wall, before the building of both the Millennium Forum and a side extension to St Columb’s Hall. Also visible at the corner of Market St and Newmarket St is the facade of Sir Edward Reid’s Market, which survived as part of the Rialto Theatre until the Rialto was demolished to make way for Primark.