Walk the trail of Bishop Hervey

He was one of the people who first identified the Giant’s Causeway as a tourist attraction and the man instrumental in Derry getting its first bridge.

And now Earl Bishop Frederick Hervey will be remembered for years to come with a trail that marks the many places across County Derry where he left his mark.

Designed by the Causeway and Foyle U3A the trail begins at the Giant’s Causeway via Downhill and continues on to the city of Derry.

The trail is marked out in a convenient-to-use, booklet and map that sets out places to visit associated with the great man.

On Thursday the first group set off on the inaugural tour which ended with a stop at St Columba’s Church, Long Tower and St Columb’s Cathedral. It was a poignant stop for the tour because Bishop Hervey willingly contributed to the building of the Long Tower church in 1783, and it was Bishop Hervey who donated the four Corinthian columns at the front of the church.

Local historian Roy Hamilton who was on the tour on Thursday described Hervey as a fantastic and eccentric character.

“He was an amazing man who did so much for the city,” he said. “He was responsible for bringing the first bridge and the steeple at St Columb’s Cathedral. He also gifted the Corinthian columns from his house at Ballyscullion.”

Earl Bishop Hervey (1730 – 1803) was one of the most remarkable people ever associated with the north west of Ireland.

The trail includes Downhill where Hervey built his splendid residence and Mussenden Temple with its magnificent cliff top settings. The trail continues around the coast towards Derry taking in churches and many points of interest along the way. It includes the Bishop’s Road with its magnificent viewpoints.

Hervey was the Bishop of Derry as well as the 4th Earl of Bristol; hence he was known as the Earl Bishop. Derry city had a special appeal for him.

He was instrumental in the construction of its first bridge over the Foyle; contributed a large sum to the building of the Long Tower Chapel; refurbished the Bishop’s Palace (now the Masonic Hall in Bishop Street) and had the first spire built on St Columb’s Cathedral. These are just a few of his many achievements.

The U3A say his achievements have been well documented by historians and recognised by biographers but they deserve to be more widely known by the general public. The map and booklet which tells lots of interesting stories about Bishop Hervey are available from the National Trust, the Castlerock Community Association and U3A. With future funding it is planned to broaden these outlets to tourist offices, libraries etc.