A very strong wall, excellently made and neatly wrought.

Near the end of 1618 Captain Nicholas Pynnar, the official Inspector of Fortifications in Ireland, had been appointed to survey the progress of the Ulster Plantation and specifically:

the Works and Plantation performed by the City of London in the City and County of London-Derry.

His report, dated 28th March 1619, provides the first official certification of the completeness of the Derry Walls:

The Cittie of London Derry is now compassed about with a verie strong wall, excellentlie made and neatlie wrought, beinge all of good lyme and stone.

This survey is supported by the first illustration of the complete city walls.

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In 2019, the Friends of the Derry Walls will be marking the quadricentennial of Pynnar Survey and the first official certification of the completeness of the Derry Walls.  As a start-up charitable interest group, the Walls Friends  are looking for your support and your ideas to help us explore the legacy of one of Ireland’s most important national monuments.

Open Doors & Open Gates

Some reflections on Derry Walls Day 2017 and European Heritage Open Days 2017 in the Walled City.

The Friends of the Derry Walls is an experiment. Can you establish a membership-led charity around a monument whose history is conflicted? Can you make history into an excuse for enjoyment and enrichment rather than something which defines and divides?  Can a deeper personal and collective knowledge of the history of a place, instil a greater sense of attachment to and value of that place?

Watermarked7(2017-09-10-0636)With a maximum budget of £5,000, the Friends endeavoured this year, not only to mark another key stage in the building of the Derry Walls, but also to give support to the property owners within the Walled City who valiantly open their doors every year for Northern Ireland’s version of European Heritage Days.

So what did we do?

We assembled all the events happening into one events page on this site and we promoted the Walled City as a Great Place for a Great Day Out.

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We enlisted the help of social media and anyone else we could rope in.

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We created banners for each of the properties to let passersby know that the historic buildings were taking part in European Heritage Open Days.

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We assembled a team of living historians from the Playhouse, Footsteps and Past Pleasures to help bring the stories of the buildings alive: the 1617 Master of the Free School; a woman of rank recently arrived from London in 1617; an 18th century minister of First Derry; a 19th century nun. We created, in the Verbal Arts Centre ,an impression of a room in the Free School of 1617.

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In the morning, we organised a tour about the geology of the buildings of the Walled City led by geologist William Lynn.

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In the afternoon, we organised a sketching tour, led by fine artist and Derry song creative, Caoimhe Sweeney.

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We wrote a Schoolmaster’s Treasure Hunt, encouraging people to move from property to property and to engage in conversation with the living history performers and guides in finding the answers to the questions. Prizes were provided by Foyleside. See how you would have got on, Treasure Hunt 2017!

We encouraged properties to put on special activities. The Guildhall put on an exhibition about their archive of beautiful hand drawn architectural drawings.

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And St Columb’s Cathedral put on a special lunchtime musical recital on their organ.

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Andrew McClelland, a postdoctoral researcher at Maynooth ran a twitter conversation all day about what makes people value a place as a heritage site #myvaluedplaces 

In spite of the weather, people turned out. Some initial numbers indicate the overall turnout: 38 on the Geology Tour, 26 on the Sketching Tour and First Derry recorded 574 through the doors.

Heritage Week, organised every August by the Heritage Council of Ireland, successfully mobilises communities in every county to discuss and showcase their natural and built heritage.  The Walled City lends itself to a similar exposition, discussion and celebration of heritage.

The most recent Troubles and the Siege are the two dominant themes of the Derry Londonderry narrative and rightly so. However presented as our sole stories, they tend to reinforce our bipolar green or orange cultural identities, and communicate that we are separate communities continuously in conflict with each other.

The 400 years old Walled City has a narrative which is challenging, complex, and rich. Imaginatively presented, the Walled City offers the opportunity for people who are looking for inspiration, entertainment, and enrichment to connect with others in a really great place. We saw a little of this potential yesterday.

2018 will be a significant year for heritage as both the Heritage Council of Ireland and the NI Department for Communities will be marking European Year of Cultural Heritage.   It also will be the lead-in year to the quadricentennial of the Derry Walls in 2019. The Friends of the Derry Walls will be meeting with our members over the winter to plan our   events for 2018. We would love constructive feedback on Derry Walls Day 2017. Get involved by becoming a Friend of the Derry Walls.

Wall to Wall heritage events in the Walled City next weekend

Derry Walls Day 2017, on Saturday 9th September, coincides with the first day of Northern Ireland’s European Heritage Open Days weekend. So Ireland’s Walled City will be an especially great place for a great day out next Saturday with Open Doors, exhibitions, special interest tours, living history and a treasure hunt.
The Friends of the Derry Walls are keen to spread the word about these great events. Anne McCartney, Secretary, explained: “The Friends of the Derry Walls raise awareness of the significance of the Derry Walls through organising educational and training events about the heritage and conservation of the Walls.  We also highlight our partners’ events. 2017 is the 400th anniversary of the opening of a Free School within the nearly completed City Walls and 400 years of education is the theme of Derry Walls Day 2017.”
The Walls Friends have enlisted the help of Daniel Doherty, as a graduate intern to help get the word out:  “I’ve recently graduated from the Ulster University with a degree in Business Studies with Advertising so I jumped at the chance of helping the charity to promote Derry Walls Day 2017. But with only a week to go, it is quite a challenge. However the quality of events being organised next weekend within the Walled City will be very popular once the word gets fully out.”
  • Open Doors – a great opportunity to see behind the closed doors of heritage buildings within the Walled City for free. Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September 2017.
  • The Schoolmaster’s Treasure Hunt – a free treasure hunt around the Derry Walls with living history performers and the chance to win prizes. Saturday 9th September 2017.
  • Sketch the Derry Walls  – a  90 minute guided sketching and historical walking tour of the Derry Walls and Walled City. Saturday 9th September 2017.
  • Stone, Brick and Mortar Tour – a 90 minute geological, architectural and historical walking tour of the Derry Walls and Walled City. Saturday 9th September 2017.
  • Living History around the Walls – the most beautiful heritage buildings around the Derry Walls will be enhanced on #derrywallsday with living history performers. Saturday 9th September 2017.
  • Architectural Archives Exhibition – an exhibition in the Guildhall of hand-drawn plans of the many significant buildings in Derry Londonderry. Saturday 9th -Sunday 10th September 2017.
  • What Are Your Most Valued Places – a Twittersphere map based survey seeking public views on special places in the cross-border cultural landscape of Nort West Ireland. Saturday 9th September 2017.
  • Siege Tours of the Walls – the  final “Siege Walls” walking tours of the 2017 season on Saturday 9th September. £3 per person includes free admission to the Siege Museum.
  • Tour of Walled City and Historic Neighbourhoods –  Join architect/urbanist Mary Kerrigan for a walking tour on Sunday 10th September 2017.
Full details of the events and how to book are on the Walls Friends website www.thederrywalls.com/events

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.