Cannon fire, leapfrog and ceramics: Diverse programme to celebrate Derry’s iconic Walls turning 400

Group pictured recently on the City's Walls for the launch of 'The Walled City' Animation Programme, including Fiona Lafferty, Project Officer, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Iain Greenway, Director of the Historic Environment Department, Edward Montgomery, The Honourable The Irish Society and Michael Johnson In Your Space. Also included are dancers from the Sollus Highland Dancing group.
Group pictured recently on the City's Walls for the launch of 'The Walled City' Animation Programme, including Fiona Lafferty, Project Officer, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Iain Greenway, Director of the Historic Environment Department, Edward Montgomery, The Honourable The Irish Society and Michael Johnson In Your Space. Also included are dancers from the Sollus Highland Dancing group.

Cannons firing, historical characters being revived and interactive games will all form part of the celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the completion of Derry’s Walls this summer.

The historic Walls will be a hive of activity as the city celebrates an iconic landmark which has withstood centuries of conflict and change.

A packed programme of activities has been planned to mark the significant milestone with daily animation, dance, music and games set to bring the Walls to life and retell some of the fascinating stories of the ramparts down through the ages.

Mayor Michaela Boyle said the events would provide an opportunity for visitors to explore the Walls and for local people to rediscover them.

“I think the City’s Walls are so much part of the urban landscape here that we can sometimes forget about their historical and cultural significance,” she said.

“This programme of events offers an opportunity for visitors and locals alike to find out more about the events which have shaped the heritage of the city, and the key role the Walls have played as a backdrop to these events.

“The Walls are a key component of the new Tourism Strategy for Derry and Strabane and it’s a great opportunity to build their profile and to celebrate the part they have played in the Derry of the past, and to explore how they can contribute to the development of our city in the future.”

A series of events will take place through July and August, including daily living history performances featuring some of the characters who played a pivotal role in the construction of the Walls, as well as some of the conflicts, rebellions and conspiracies that took place in and around the confines of the historic bastion.

Every Saturday at 1pm a replica 17th century cannon will be fired outside the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall by some of the characters of the day who will bring the stories of the siege to life.

Among the many family friendly activities are some interactive games to encourage people to engage and learn more about local history. Games Off the Walls offers the chance to play some unique games based on the themes of the city’s heritage. Or why not try Leapfrogging the Walls and some interactive street games with local drama company Stage Beyond?

Try your hand at arts and crafts with special ceramics workshops led by local artist Gail Mahon, who will be exploring physical and tactile approaches to mark making and construction techniques using clay and tool making activities.

Or if you’re interested in film culture, Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is delighted to announce the return of WITHOUT – the world class seven-screen film installation by Rosemary Lee and Echo Echo that was created for City of Culture 2013.

The City’s very first Street Food Festival will also take place against the backdrop of the Walls in Derry’s historic Guildhall Square.

Tourism Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Jennifer O’Donnell, said the programme was a real celebration of local heritage and culture. “We were delighted at the response from local groups when we put the call out for participants in the Walled City 400 programme. So many artists and performers expressed an interest in celebrating this anniversary and engaged in finding ways of using their talents and skills to bring the history of the Walls to life. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our modern day creativity and talent in a unique historic context.”

Find out more about all the activities taking place throughout the summer at www.walledcity400.com