Council in talks over future of Boom Hall site

Some of the former residents of Boom Hall.
Some of the former residents of Boom Hall.

Derry and Strabane District Council officials are “actively engaging” with a number of other bodies with a view to developing new proposals for the Boom Hall site.

The council has confirmed that talks are taking place over a plan for the derelict stately home and surrounding area, which has been an important site locally dating back to medieval times.

One of the windows at Boom Hall.

One of the windows at Boom Hall.

Boom Hall was included in a new city-wide heritage and tourism initiative - the ‘Plantation Trail’ - several weeks ago.

Over recent years, work has also been undertaken to ensure the building’s walls are secured, amid concerns that the buildings on the site were in danger of collapse.

The area around the park has become much more utilised and acccessible since the city’s walking and cycle pathways were extended to incoropate the area in a project developed by Derry City Council and a number of partner organisations.

In a further development, a spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed yesterday: “Council is currently actively engaging with a number of stakeholders in relation to possible proposals for the site.”

The stables at Boom Hall.

The stables at Boom Hall.

The spokeswoman added that officers hoped “to be in a position to update” elected members within the next few months in relation to this.

Excavations were carried out at the Boom Hall site back in March 2013, revealing evidence of the battles that occurred around the famous boom that was laid across the Foyle during the Siege of Derry. A musket ball and gunflint from the era were uncovered.

The wooden boom was fixed from the western end from a fort at this ancient townland of Ballynashallog and at another fort at Gransha on the eastern shore of Lough Foyle. Its aim was to prevent King William of Orange’s forces from reaching the besieged Protestant settlers inside the City Walls.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has since confirmed that it would consider further archeological digs if approaches were made by other interested parties and funding was available.

The Catholic Jacobite army - made up of Irish, French and English soldiers - are known to have based themselves in the Boom Hall and neighbouring Brook Hall Estates during the Siege of Derry.

Boom Hall itself was erected later, in the 1770s, and has had a long and chequered history over the years. The building was all but destroyed in a fire after the last occupants left over 40 years ago.

The wider Boom Hill area includes a number of significant features. There are nearby stables pre-date the construction of the statrly house, as well as some of Derry’s oldest oak trees.

Parts of Boom Hall’s walled garden is also believed to be still standing.

Prior to the Siege of Derry, the Boom Hall area’s history stretches back to the time of the Columban Monastery in the city centre.

Before the Plantation of Ulster, this site along the River Foyle was known to have been owned by the Catholic Abbey of Derry.

The monastic authorities ensured that the land on this site was used to help cover the costs of their community in the area.

The Boom Hall grounds has also been at the centre of several ghost stories over the years.