New guide to historic Derry Walls

Derry's historic Walls.
Derry's historic Walls.

A new booklet and guide card celebrating Derry’s historic Walls was launched in the city today.

Derry has the most complete circuit of historic walls of any town or city on the island of Ireland.

The 17th century ramparts constitute the largest monument in State Care in Northern Ireland - the highest protection afforded to any archaeological monument.

Launching the two new publications, Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: “These publications present a great opportunity to highlight the fascinating history of the city of culture. The booklet and guide card will allow both visitors and locals alike to engage and interact with an historic monument that is quickly becoming one of the biggest cultural draws of the city.

“This is the first time my Department through the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), has published such extensive visitor information about Derry’s Walls. We hope that these publications will improve the visitor experience of the walls and that this, in turn, will encourage greater visitor numbers into the city in this year of Culture. What we in DOE are about is getting more and more tourists to our shores to help boost our economy. These booklets will help that.”

The booklet and guide card have been beautifully put together and feature a specially-designed map that will guide people to 20 points around the walls.

The visitor is encouraged to both navigate their way around the walls and also to step off the walls and discover hidden treasures.

Among the tour points are a few notable examples:

* Ferryquay Gate - this is the site of one of the four original gates into the walled city. The original gate was closed by the 13 apprentices on December 7, 1688, to prevent the Earl of Antrim from entering the city with his troops. This action led directly to the 105-day siege in 1689.

* The sallyport - this gateway is on the outside of the walls, near Church Bastion. Tradition holds that this tunnel was used during the siege and leads into St Columb’s Cathedral.

* Bishop’s Gate - excavations in 1999 at Bishop’s Street Without revealed traces of a defensive earthwork and ditch known as a ‘ravelin’. This ravelin would have provided additional protection in front of Bishop’s Gate and up along the wall to Double Bastion.

* Double Bastion - this bastion is so-called because, during the 1689 siege, a line of wicker baskets filled with clay, or ‘gabions’, was placed down the middle of the bastion, behind which the defenders of the city could take shelter. The bastion was then effectively divided in two.

* Grand Parade - the sycamore trees, 13 in all, were planted here to commemorate the apprentices who shut the gates in 1688. The fruit of the sycamore trees is said to resemble a bunch of keys, symbolic of the locked gates.

* Coward’s Bastion - located at the corner of the walls, beside Magazine Gate, is where the last of the bastions would have stood. It got its name from the fact that it was along a section of the walls that was attacked the least during the 1689 siege, thus making it a popular posting for some members of the garrison.

The booklet and guidecard are available at venues throughout the city including Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau, Tower Museum, and St. Columb’s Cathedral.