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Derry City - Strand Road

circa 1910

Concerns have been raised by the Protestant community over the increasingly divided nature of the city. During the course of the Troubles, it is estimated that as many as 15,000 Protestants fled the cityside due to safety concerns. Fewer than 1,000 are now living on the west bank of the River Foyle mostly in the Fountains Estate and it is feared that the city could become permanently divided.


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Photo Details

  • County: Derry / Londonderry
  • Town: Derry
  • Scene: Strand Road
  • Date: circa 1905


  • Digitally remastered
  • 10' x 8' printed on quality photo paper
  • Also available mounted & framed, ask for details
  • Colour images can be printed in black & white if preferred.
  • Read about Derry City below

Derry City (or Londonderry)

Derry or Londonderry (Irish: Doire or Doire Cholm Chille), often called the Maiden City, is a city in Northern Ireland. The old walled city of Londonderry lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, and the present city now covers both banks (Cityside to the west and Waterside to the east) and is connected by two bridges. The district extends to rural areas to the southeast of the city.

The population of the city proper was 83,652 in the 2001 Census. The Derry Urban Area (including Culmore, New Buildings and Strathfoyle) had a population of 90,663 people and is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland, the fourth on the island of Ireland. Derry is near the border with the Republic of Ireland, and serves much of western Ulster, including County Donegal, as well as the west of County Londonderry. The district is run by Derry City Council and has an airport, City of Derry Airport, and a seaport, Londonderry Port.


The city's official name is Londonderry according to the city's Royal Charter and, as stated in a recent High Court decision in January 2007, remains so. It usually appears as such on maps. The city is known by many as Derry, which is an anglicisation of the Irish doire. Doire means ‘Oak-grove’ and comes from the settlement's original name Daire Calgaich, translating as ‘oakwood of Calgach’. Calgacus or Calgacos, meaning 'swordsman', was an ancient warrior of the Caledonian Britons; there is no reason to believe there is any connection.

The name was changed from Derry in 1613 during the Plantation of Ulster to reflect the establishment of the city by the London guilds. However, most Irish people, at home and abroad, still prefer 'Derry', so the proper name of the city remains a matter of dispute.

Derry is used by nationalists in Northern Ireland; unionists preferring the city's official name, Londonderry. As for the city's inhabitants, the nationalist majority call it Derry. (In the Republic of Ireland, the city and county are almost always referred to as Derry.) In official use the city is always known as Londonderry, although some local organisations name themselves after Derry - for example, City of Derry Airport.

The council changed the name of the local government district covering the city to Derry on May 7, 1984, consequently renaming itself Derry City Council. This did not change the name of the city, although the city is coterminous with the district, and in law the city council are also the 'Corporation of Londonderry' or, more formally, the 'Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Londonderry'.

The city is also nicknamed the Maiden City by virtue of the fact that its walls were never penetrated during the siege of Derry in the late 17th century. It is also nicknamed 'Stroke City' by local broadcaster, Gerry Anderson, due to the occasional 'politically correct' use of the oblique notation Derry/Londonderry. A recent addition to the city has been the erection of several large stone columns on main roads into the city welcoming drivers to 'the walled city'.


Derry is one of the longest continuously inhabited places in Ireland. The earliest historical references date to the 6th century when a monastery was founded there by St. Columba, but for thousands of years before that people had been living in the vicinity.

Before leaving Ireland to spread Christianity elsewhere in the British Isles, Columba founded a monastery in the then Doire Calgaich, on the east side of the Foyle. According to oral and documented history the site was granted to Columba by a local King. The monastery then remained in the hands of the federation of Columban churches who regarded Colm Cille as their spiritual mentor. In the year 546 the area was rebaptised Doire Cholm Cille, Colmcille’s Oak Grove in remembrance. At this stage, in the 6th century, Derry was known primarily as a monastic settlement.

Planters organised by London livery companies through The Honourable The Irish Society arrived in the 1600s as part of the plantation of Ulster, and built the walled city of Londonderry across the Foyle from the earlier town. The city has long been a focal point for important events in Irish history, including the 1688-1689 siege of Derry and Bloody Sunday on 30 January 1972.

Londonderry was the first ever planned city in Ireland: it was begun in 1613, with the walls being completed 5 years later in 1618. The central diamond within a walled city with four gates was thought to be a good design for defence. The grid pattern chosen was subsequently much copied in the colonies of British North America.

The modern city preserves the 17th century layout of four main streets radiating from the Diamond to four gateways - Bishop's Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Shipquay Gate and Butcher's Gate. Historic buildings within the walls include the 1633 Gothic cathedral of St Columb.

Coat of arms and motto

The devices on Derry's arms are a skeleton, a three-towered castle, a red cross and sword. The sword and cross are devices of the City of London and demonstrate the link between the two cities, in particular, the association with the Honourable the Irish Society which had been granted lands in and around the city in the past. The castle is thought to relate to a 13th or 14th century keep in nearby Greencastle belonging to the local native chieftains. There are many theories about the skeleton; the most popular being that it is that of a Norman De Burca knight who was starved to death in the castle dungeons in 1332. However, during the days of Gerrymandering and discrimination against the Catholic population of Derry, Derry's Roman Catholics often used to claim in dark wit that the skeleton was 'a Catholic waiting on the Council housing list'.

The motto attached to the coat of arms reads in Latin, 'Vita, victoria, veritas.' This translates into English as, 'Life, victory, truth.'

Protestant minority

Concerns have been raised by the Protestant community over the increasingly divided nature of the city. During the course of the Troubles, it is estimated that as many as 15,000 Protestants fled the cityside due to safety concerns. Fewer than 1,000 are now living on the west bank of the River Foyle mostly in the Fountains Estate and it is feared that the city could become permanently divided.

However, concerted efforts have been made by local community, church and political leaders from both traditions to redress the problem. A conference to bring together key actors and promote tolerance was held in October 2006. Dr Ken Good, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, said he was happy living on the cityside. 'I feel part of it. It is my city and I want to encourage other Protestants to feel exactly the same,' he said.

Support for Protestants in the district has been strong from the SDLP Mayor Cllr Helen Quigley. Cllr Quigley has made inclusion and tolerance key themes of her mayorality. The Mayor Helen Quigley said it is time for 'everyone to take a stand to stop the scourge of sectarian and other assaults in the city.'


Derry’s transport network is built out of a complex array of old and modern roads and railways throughout the city and county. The city's road network also makes use of two bridges to cross the River Foyle, the Craigavon Bridge and the Foyle Bridge, the longest bridge in Ireland.


The city is the home of many sporting establishments, teams and organisations, and football, both Association (soccer) and Gaelic is popular in the area. The main teams are Derry City F.C., who play in the Republic of Ireland's FAI National League, and Derry GAA respectively. Other soccer teams include Institute F.C. and Oxford United Stars F.C., both of whom play in the Irish League. There are many Gaelic teams in and around the city, for example Steelstown GAC, Doire Colmcille GAC and St Mary's Slaughmanus.

The local soccer league is the Derry and District League and teams from the city and surrounding areas participate, including Don Bosco's F.C. and Trojans F.C. not forgetting Lincoln Courts.

There are also countless boxing clubs, one of which the established Boxer, John Duddy, graduated from. There are countless gyms situated throughout the city, including Fitness First. Others include Pro Gym and Platinum also Extreme Fitness owned & run by Derek Lynch. Pro Gym is run by Dave Fox and Malika Zitouni. Dave is a native of Derry and is the Nabba Northern Ireland 1997/98 winner. Malika won the Nabba Universe Class 1 2006.

Rugby is also quite popular in the city, with the City of Derry Rugby Club situated not far from the city centre.

2001 Census

Derry Urban Area (DUA), including the city and the neighbouring settlements of Culmore, New Buildings and Strathfoyle, is classified as a city by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (ie with population exceeding 75,000). On census day (29 April 2001) there were 90,736 people living in Derry Urban Area. Of these:

  • 27.0 were aged under 16 years and 13.4 were aged 60 and over
  • 48.3 of the population were male and 51.7 were female
  • 77.8 were from a Roman Catholic background and 20.8 were from a Protestant background
  • 7.1 of people aged 16-74 were unemployed.

Famous people from Derry

  • Andrew Simpson - Actor
  • Seamus Ball - Actor
  • Amanda Burton - (Born in Balloughry, County Londonderry) Actress. Best known for her role as forensic pathologist Doctor (later Professor) 'Sam Ryan' in the BBC crime drama series Silent Witness.
  • Gregory Campbell - Democratic Unionist Party Member of Parliament for East Londonderry
  • Willie Carson - Photo-journalist and author.
  • Joyce Cary - Author. Two of his novels were made into films: The Horse's Mouth (1958) starring Sir. Alec Guinness and Mister Johnson (1990)
  • Phil Coulter - Songwriter. Wrote The Town I Loved So Well 
  • Nadine Coyle - Singer (Girls Aloud)
  • Peter Cunnah Lead singer with 1990s pop outfit D:ream.
  • Edward Daly, Catholic bishop of Derry from 1974 to 1993.
  • Dana - In 1970 represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest, later became a politician.
  • Seamus Deane - Writer
  • Nigel Dodds - Democratic Unionist Party Member of Parliament for Belfast North
  • Richard Doherty- Catholic Unionist Royal Ulster Constabulary reservist, writer, military historian
  • Willie Doherty - Visual Artist. Twice nominated for the Turner Prize.
  • Roma Downey - Actress. Best known for her role as Monica, the main character of the religious TV series Touched by an Angel
  • John Duddy - Boxer
  • Mark Durkan - Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Member of Parliament for Foyle (the Derry area)
  • George Farquhar - Restoration dramatist.
  • Bronagh Gallagher - Actress/singer. Films include Pulp Fiction and The Commitments.
  • Neil Hannon - Lead singer of The Divine Comedy.
  • John Hume - Nobel Peace Prize-winning former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party and former MP for Foyle 1983-2005.
  • John Lawrence - Soldier and administrator in 19th century India and Viceroy of India
  • Josef Locke - Tenor singer, popular in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Johnny McCauley - Singer/songwriter. Founder of the 'Country & Irish' sound who penned 'Pretty Little Girl From Omagh', 'Hometown On The Foyle' and many more.
  • Mark McFadden - Television journalist
  • Martin McGuinness - Sinn Féin MP for Mid Ulster, formerly a senior member of the Provisional IRA.
  • Charlie Nash - Boxer. Former European and British lightweight champion.
  • Martin O'Neill - Former manager of Celtic Football Club current manager of Aston Villa F.C.; from Kilrea.