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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Derry County > Derry City
Derry or Londonderry (Irish: Doire or Doire Cholm Chille, meaning ‘Oak wood of Colm Cille’), often called the Maiden City, is a city in Northern Ireland. The old walled city of Londonderry lies on the west bank of the River Foyle with the location of old Derry on the east bank, the present city now covers both banks (Cityside to the west and Waterside to the east) and the river is spanned by two bridges.

The city district also extends to rural areas to the southeast of the city. The population of the city proper was 83,652 in the 2001 Census. The Derry Urban Area had a population of 90,663, making it the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and Ulster, and the fourth largest on the island of Ireland. The wider Derry City Council area had a population of 107,300 as of June 2006. The district is administered by Derry City Council and contains both Londonderry Port and City of Derry Airport.

Derry was the last city in the British Isles to be enclosed with defensive walls, and has the most complete series of city walls in the islands. It is one of the few cities in Europe that never saw these fortifications breached.

Derry is very near the border with County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. The city has had a very close relationship with what is now County Donegal for centuries. The person traditionally seen as the 'founder' of the original Derry is St. Columba (also known as Colm Cille or St. Columb), a holy man and royal prince from Tír Chonaill, the old name for almost all of modern County Donegal (of which the west bank of the Foyle was a part before c. 1600). Derry and the nearby town of Letterkenny form the major economic core of northwest Ireland.

According to the city's Royal Charter the official name is Londonderry and, as stated in a recent High Court decision in January 2007, remains so. It usually appears as such on maps. The city is known by many as Derry, which is an anglicisation of the old Irish Daire, which in modern Irish is spelt Doire, and translates as ‘Oak-grove’. The name derives from the settlement's earliest references, Daire Calgaich (‘oakwood of Calgach’). The name was changed from Derry in 1613 during the Plantation of Ulster to reflect the establishment of the city by the London guilds.

History
Derry is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Ireland. The earliest historical references date to the 6th century when a monastery was founded there by St. Columba or Colmcille, a famous saint from what is now County Donegal, but for thousands of years before that people had been living in the vicinity.

Before leaving Ireland to spread Christianity elsewhere, Columba founded a monastery in the then Doire Calgach, on the east side of the Foyle. According to oral and documented history, the site was granted to Columba by a local king. The monastery then remained in the hands of the federation of Columban churches who regarded Colmcille as their spiritual mentor. The year 546 is often referred to as the date that the original settlement was founded. However it is accepted that this was an erroneous date assigned by medieval chroniclers. It is accepted that between the 6th century and the 11th century, Derry was known primarily as a monastic settlement.

The town became strategically more significant during the Tudor conquest of Ireland and came under frequent attack, until in 1608 it was destroyed by Cahir O'Doherty, Irish chieftain of Inishowen.

During the 1640s, the city suffered in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which began with the Irish Rebellion of 1641, when the Gaelic Irish insurgents made a failed attack on the city. In 1649 the city and its garrison, which supported the republican Parliament in London, were besieged by Scottish Presbyterian forces loyal to King Charles I. The Parliamentarians besieged in Derry were relieved by a strange alliance of Roundhead troops under George Monck and the Irish Catholic general Owen Roe O'Neill. These temporary allies were soon fighting each other again however, after the landing in Ireland of the New Model Army in 1649. The war in Ulster was finally brought to an end when the Parliamentarians crushed the Irish Catholic Ulster army at the battle of Scarrifholis in nearby Donegal in 1650.

During the Glorious Revolution, only Londonderry and nearby Enniskillen had a Protestant garrison by November 1688. An army of around 1,200 men, mostly "Redshanks" (Highlanders), under Alexander Macdonnell, 3rd Earl of Antrim, was slowly organised (they set out on the week William of Orange landed in England). When they arrived on 7 December 1688 the gates were closed against them and the Siege of Derry began. In April 1689, King James came to the city and summoned it to surrender. The King was rebuffed and the siege lasted until the end of July with the arrival of a relief ship.

The city was rebuilt in the 18th century with many of its fine Georgian style houses still surviving. The city's first bridge across the River Foyle in 1790. During the 18th and 19th centuries the port became an important embarkation point for Irish emigrants setting out for North America. Some of these founded the colonies of Derry and Londonderry in the state of New Hampshire.


Attractions
The city is the north west's major shopping district, housing two large shopping centres along with numerous shop packed streets serving much of the greater county, as well as Tyrone and Donegal. Retail developments in Letterkenny have, however, lessened cross-border traffic from north County Donegal.

The city centre has two main shopping centres; the Foyleside Shopping Centre which has 45 stores and 1430 parking spaces, and the Richmond Centre, which has 39 retail units. The Quayside Shopping Centre also serves the city-side and there is also Lisnagelvin Shopping Centre in the Waterside. These centres, as well as local-run businesses, feature numerous national and international stores. A retail park was recently built called Crescent Link Retail Park located in the Waterside and has many international chain stores, including Homebase, Curries, Carpet Right, PC World, Argos Extra, Toys R Us, Halfords, JJB, Pets at Home, MFI, Tesco Express, M&S Simply Food and Land of Leather. In the short space that this site has been built, it has quickly grown to the second largest retail park in Northern Ireland (second only to Sprucefield in Lisburn).

It is also home to the world's oldest independent department store; Austins. Established in 1830, Austins predates Jenners of Edinburgh by 5 years, Harrods of London by 15 years and Macy's of New York by 25 years. The store's five-story Edwardian building is located in the city centre's Diamond.


 
 
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Derry City
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Derry City
In: Derry
People: 90,663
Speak: English
Type: Hertiage City
GPS: -7.3074, 54.9958