Derry ‘the little legend that could’ - travel writer

Huffington Post travel writer Richard Bangs on Derry's Walls.
Huffington Post travel writer Richard Bangs on Derry's Walls.

Readers of the world’s most popular news website have heard of Derry’s claim to the world’s first email, the city’s near perfect Irish coffee, and the “complex curving link” of the Peace Bridge.

Richard Bangs, travel writer and blogger, visited the city as part of a travel series on the north for the Huffington Post - the largest news and lifestyle publication in the world, boasting some 37 million unique users a month.

The ‘Northern Ireland: A Land Fit For A Second Child’ series saw Bangs travel around the north in the company of friend Virginia Moriarty, who was born and raised in Belfast.

“Derry is the second city of Northern Ireland, after Belfast, but is glazed with no less the ambition in its history. It is the little legend that could,” Bangs writes.

On a trip to St Columb’s Cathedral, the travel writer is told and shown by local tour guide and local councillor Michael Cooper of a Siege era claim that Derry holds the title “as having fired the first email - in a cannon.”

“Virginia’s friend, Michael Cooper, a local blue badge guide, wants to offer proof, so he leads us to St. Columb’s Cathedral, and there points to an iron 270 lb. mortar cannonball, on a stand, with a hollowed out shaft, like the thumbhole in a bowling ball, where James the II (the converted Roman Catholic monarch who abdicated the throne to his Protestant son-in-law) inserted his message containing terms of surrender, which he shot across the river and over the walls.

“‘No surrender’ was the legendary reply, and the phrase has been the Protestant slogan ever since.”

The travel wrtier also learns of the claim that Derry gave the world the term ‘catwalk’ and just misses actors Ethan Hawk and Stephen Rea when he books into the Beech Hill.

After “scones and a near-perfect Irish Coffee at Café Del Mondo” Bangs makes for a boat trip on the Foyle where he marvels at the city’s Peace Bridge and its “ complex curving link in which genius has lent an appearance of simplicity, and a handshake between Catholics and Protestants that preponderate respective banks.”

The travel writer also notes that where once police sirens “were the elevator music of the city” during the Troubles, now the “police car squeal is a thankfully rare event.”

You can read the series online here

Videos of his trip are also available online at