Derry played host to thousands of tourists and visitors young and old this weekend as the city celebrated the hotly anticipated ‘Return of Colmcille’ which culminated last night in an epic battle featuring the Loch Ness monster and the people of Derry.
Locals and tourists mingled along the sun drenched quay with Derry’s new mayor Martin Reilly joking that the good weather would last during his tenure as mayor.
“This has been a spectacular occasion and I’m delighted to see so many people out welcoming Colmcille back to the city,” said the mayor.
“Our beautiful river Foyle has never looked so good. The weekend has been an excellent success and it’s a credit to all involved.”
Festivities got underway on Friday evening with the arrival of islanders from Iona arriving by Curragh up the River Foyle, viewers along the river were entertained by carnival acts and street theatre as the Curragh arrived. A mysterious box was then carried to Guildhall Square where it was guarded by ‘monks’ until its contents were revealed in front of a crowd of thousands yesterday afternoon.
After a rousing rendition of ‘Hear My Song’ performed by local male singers and a humorous sketch show, the box’s contents were eventually revealed as local schoolchildren climbed out one by one. Finally a prophet from the Island of Iona emerged and dispatched the crowd in the square to locations including Long Tower Church, Ebrington, the Gasyard, The Railway Museum and Pump Street in search of Colmcille.
For one day only Derry was christened Colmville and for the rest of the afternoon a cast of hundreds of local residents in extravagant costume painted a picture of the city, showing Colmcille all that he has missed.
Finally Derry witnessed its biggest spectacle ever last night when just after 10pm the Colmcille’s nemesis, the Loch Ness monster made its way towards the Peace Bridge breathing fire and launching fireworks as the city fired back with all its might.
Derry’s Mayor said: “I’m delighted to see so many visitors to the city and we’ve certainly been blessed with this weather. We should all be very proud of hosting events on such a massive scale on the world stage for everyone to see during our year as City of Culture,” he added.