Beyond the City Walls
It is worth exploring beyond the walls and discovering other aspects of Londonderry's heritage. Viewed from the city walls, the Murals on the Bogside and Fountain Estate depict momentous political events and upheaval. The Museum of Free Derry captures the emergence of the civil rights movement in 1968, a cross community movement created to challenge Unionist gerrymandering and limiting of Catholic families' housing entitlements.
Photographs, newspaper archives, gas masks and clothes worn by protestors and police vividly retell this explosive episode in the political evolution of Derry and Northern Ireland. Elsewhere in the Fountain Estate, the Siege of Derry and King William's triumph at the Battle of the Boyne are portrayed in street murals.
The murals of Derry provide a local interpretation of our past, present and future aspirations. On occasions the representation of these strongly held opinions can be dark, poignant and shocking.
Yet perhaps the most memorable mural is that designed with the direction of local Protestant and Catholic school students, a contemporary and optimistic dove of peace, whose wing an oak leaf commemorating the city's original name, appears on a background of multi-coloured squares, representing equality.
Also in the Bogside lies St. Columba’s Church Long Tower, a Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of Derry. The present church is built on the site of Roman Catholic worship which goes back as far as the 12th century, and was opened in 1788. Nearby, the Gasyard Heritage Centre incorporates a number of exhibitions including the Story of the Prisons exhibiton, which chronicles the story of the 1980 and 1981 Hunger Strikes and the wider story of political prisoners from Derry who were incarcerated during the political conflict.
Christ Church makes up an ecclesiastical precinct linking the Clarendon St. and Magee Consevation Areas to Derry City Council’s heritage park of Brooke Park. It is a unique and authentic venue for conferences and musical events.
Standing beside the River Foyle, at the Craigavon Bridge, the Foyle Valley Railway Museum is dedicated to telling the rich history of the city and surrounding area. At the heart of the exhibition is a recreated railway station platform and within the displays visitors can find out about some of the various railway companies which once operated out of the city.
The Guildhall was built in 1887 in a neo-Gothic style, to honour the London guilds which had financed the new city almost three hundred years' earlier. Today it is a civic and cultural centre where visitors are welcome. Visitors should see the vivid stained glass windows, oak panelling, ornate ceilings and magnificent concert organ, and the four faced clock tower.
Behind the Guildhall, the magnificent Peace Bridge (opened June 2011), designed for pedestrians and cyclists, crosses the River Foyle to the former Parade Ground at Ebrington Barracks – linking the Walled City to the new developments at Ebrington and St. Columb’s Park. On this side of the river lies the Riverwatch Aquarium and Visitor Centre, a great tourist attraction complete with lobster, crabs, starfish, coalfish, blennys and lots of other marine and freshwater fish and shellfish.
Visitors to the Workhouse Museum glimpse the harsh conditions poverty and destitution brought to the city's people in Victorian Ireland. Exhibitions display the Great Irish Famine from 1840-1849 when entering the Workhouse was the only chance of survival. Also on display is the Atlantic Memorial Exhibition which relates Londonderry's role in the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II.
Amelia Earhart on her solo transatlantic flight in 1932, made an unexpected landing near the city. The Amelia Earhart Centre at Ballyarnett Country Park remembers the landing with a tour and also includes an exhibition on local aviation history.