Daily Archives: April 24, 2011

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 28

Co Londonderry

Londonderry/Derry has been chosen to be City of Culture 2013 and perhaps it may now earn a new name of… Legendary!

The City Walls of Derry were built during the period 1613-1618 as defences for early seventeenth century settlers from England and Scotland.  They are approximately 1.5km in circumference and form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique place to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day.

The four original gates to the Walled City are Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate. Three further gates were added – magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate.  The Walls vary in width between 12 and 35 feet.  The city claims to have Europe’s largest collection of cannon.  In 2005 the surviving 24 cannon were restored back to their former glory. The cannon are displayed throughout the City Walls with the impressive Roaring Meg located on the double bastion.

Fashioned in a neo-gothic style, the Guildhall is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings and is a venue for concerts, plays and exhibitions.  There are guided tours in the summer months.  The stained glass windows include a reproduction of Follingby’s The Relief of Derry; the original is in the adjacent Harbour Museum.  This museum commemorates the city’s maritime tradition.  Artefacts include the Iona Curragh, used in 1963 by a crew of clerics to replicate Saint Colmcille’s journey to Iona.

At the Heritage Tower permanent exhibitions include The Story of Derry exhibition and the An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera exhibition.  The museum also plays host to a range of other temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

The Museum of Free Derry focuses on the civil rights campaign which emerged in the 1960s and the Free Derry/early Troubles period of the early 1970s.  It is the people’s story of the civil rights movement, the battle of the Bogside, internment, Free Derry and Bloody Sunday.  Most of the 25,000 items were donated by local people.

St Columb’s Cathedral was built between 1628 and 1633.  The elegant tower and spire, can still be seen for miles around.

The Amelia Earhart Centre, a small interpretative centre is located on the outskirts of the city within the beautiful Ballyarnett natural park. The centre includes a recently renovated exhibition detailing the local aviation history, with particular reference to Amelia Earhart, who landed on the site in 1932, following her pioneering solo Trans – Atlantic flight. Visits are normally by appointment. Free Admission

Prehen House commands stunning views of Derry, the river Foyle and the hills beyond.  Records reveal that it was inhabited by 1640; in 1738 the Knox family began their great association with Prehen when Andrew Knox, the MP for Donegal married Honoria Tomkins, the Prehen heiress.  In Victorian times the colourful Colonel George Knox was one of Derry’s most eminent figures. But with World War I looming his grandson Baron George Carl Otto Louis von Scheffler Knox was put under house arrest. Soon after the 3,641 acre estate was seized as ‘enemy property’.

Magilligan Point guards the mouth of Lough Foyle and is home to Lough Foyle Ferry and Martello Tower.  There is a short beach walk through a National Nature Reserve which provides opportunities for visitors to explore the beach or spot birdlife and sealife.

Mountsandel Fort, is located just outside the town of Coleraine. It is the setting for the remains of one of the earliest known hunter-gatherer settlements in Ireland, dating from before 7000 BC.

Hezlett House built in 1691, is a long thatched cottage.  It is important because of its construction.  It was made with ‘crucks’ (frames of curved timber) which act as upright posts, and sloping rafters set straight on to a foundation of rock.  This was a quick of building in the 17th century.  Sometimes Planters brought the frames with them, ready for assembly – and we thought that flat pack was a modern invention! 😉 The house is restored and now opened to the public.

Mussenden Temple is located in the beautiful surroundings of Downhill Demesne.  Originally built as a library and dedicated to the Earl Bishop of Derry’s cousin, Mrs Mussenden, the Temple perches dramatically on a cliff top.

The Roe Valley, Limavady was the territory of the O’Cahans, and the O’Cahan’s Rock is one of the landmarks of the nearby Roe Valley Country ParkThe Londonderry Air was first written down here by Jane Ross, when she heard it being played by a street fiddler.  Limavady was the birthplace of William Massey (1856-1925),Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1912 to 1925.

Dungiven Priory is an Augustinian priory with a 15th-century tomb of Cooey-na-Gall, an O’Cahan chief, who died in 1385. Free access to the priory. On the east side of Dungiven (A5) it can be reached on foot down a lane passing a wart well and rag tree.

Banagher Glen nature Reserve is one of the oldest ancient oak woodlands in Ireland. Located three miles from Dungiven it promises spectacular views whilst hill walking enthusiasts will enjoy a challenging 14km circular walk through a magnificent lake and forest.  The steep sides of the glens are clothed by mature trees, mostly oak and ash, as well as rowan, hazel, hawthorn and holly. Ferns and mosses thrive in damp shady nooks along the river banks.  It also contains Altnaheglish Reservoir, used for the supply of water to the surrounding area.

Garvagh Museum is situated in the walled garden of the former Garvagh Estate, the museum’s collections cover many aspects of rural and domestic life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Also blacksmith’s shop and displays of horse-drawn agricultural machinery. Stone Age artefacts from the Bann Valley. Boat from nearby eel fishery and farming implements. Jaunting car and Victoriana.

Tirnoney Dolmen, Archaeologists are to dig out a portal tomb in Northern Ireland for the first time in 50 years.  The collapse of Tirnony Dolmen near Maghera has produced a rare opportunity to discover what lies beneath — and exactly how old it is.

Bellaghy Bawn a 17th century fortified house and bawn (the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house), it was built by Sir Baptist Jones around 1619.  Bellaghy Bawn was opened to the public in 1996. Resources on site include a film made for the bawn, as well as a collection of exhibitions on local natural history, local history, and poetry by local Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney.

Moneymore Model Village is complete with figurines set in landscaped surroundings. The village depicts life in rural Ulster at the time of the plantation.