The Guildhall is one of Derry’s most recognisable landmarks and has been at the heart of city life since 1890. It was built in 1887 by ‘The Honourable The Irish Society’ on land reclaimed from the River Foyle at a cost of £19,000 (equivalent to £1.5 million today). The building was named in honour of its connection to the City of London and its guilds. It was officially opened in 1890 as the administrative centre for Londonderry Corporation. 120 years later it still retains its civic function and is home to the Derry City Council chamber and the Mayor’s Parlour. It is the only surviving guildhall still in civic use in Ireland.
Over its 120 year history the Guildhall has been destroyed twice – by fire in 1908 and through bomb attacks in 1972. The grade ‘A’ listed building is important for many reasons – historical, architectural, cultural and political with many stories to tell.
More information on the attractions within walking distance of the Guildhall are listed below together with some shops/cafes etc at the end of the page
Among the many historic monuments in Derry, the massive city Walls on the west bank of the River Foyle are the most striking and memorable. Built between 1614 and 1619, the original Walls are almost perfectly preserved today, making Derry one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. and very similar to those of Carcassone in France. Using earth, lime and local stone (some from ruined medieval monastery buildings) Peter Benson from London skilfully constructed the thick defensive ramparts and angular artillery bastions following closely the design of Sir Edward Doddington of Dungiven.
The entire cost of the building was met by the Irish Society comprising London businessmen who were responsible for the Plantation of Derry. It was their duty, under a Royal Charter of King James I, to build and maintain the Derry Walls to help control the local Irish rebels. In return they were given large parcels of land in the region for themselves. Despite sieges in 1641, 1649 and the Great Siege of 1689, Derry’s Walls were never breached – proof indeed of their careful planning and excellent construction, and reason for the title ‘The Maiden City‘ (at least until the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in 2013 when the walls were breached by fiddlers and dancers).
The Peace Bridge
The Peace Bridge is a cycle and footbridge bridge across the River Foyle in Derry, Northern Ireland. It opened on 25 June 2011, connecting Ebrington Square with the rest of the city centre. It is the newest of three bridges in the city, the others being the Craigavon Bridge and the Foyle Bridge. It was opened to the public by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn; accompanied by the First and deputy First Ministers, Peter McGuinness and Martin Robinson and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
The bridge is intended to improve relations between the largely unionist ‘Waterside’ with the largely nationalist ‘Cityside’, by improving access between these areas, as part of wider regeneration plans. The bridge also provides a crossing over the railway line approaching Waterside station.
The bridge was funded jointly by the Department for Social Development (NI), the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government along with matching funding, totalling £14 million, from the SEUPB Peace III programme. The 235 metre bridge was designed by Wilkinson Eyre, who also designed the Gateshead Millennium Bridge
The Tower Museum
The award winning Tower Museum is located within the city’s historic walls at Union Hall Place. Permanent exhibitions at the museum include The Story of Derry exhibition and the Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera exhibition. However throughout the year the museum also plays host to a range of other temporary exhibitions. All the exhibitions use display and interactive techniques to present their stories to the public.