Day 2. Derry Guildhall & Bogside

We started the day with a leisurely breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Derry~Londonderry.  After checking out of the hotel and leaving our bags to collect later in the day we walked across the Peace Bridge as we had only viewed it after dark the previous evening.  Since it’s opening in 2011 the bridge has been held in high regard for both its beauty and as a symbol of peace connecting the two communities across the River Foyle.

On The Peace Bridge, Derry
Crossing The Peace Bridge, Derry

Ebrington Square also looked different in daylight as we strolled through the former army parade ground of the barracks.  To the west of the square adjoining the river stands the Mute Meadow, an art installation comprising 40 pairs of columns illuminated at night with a palette of colours depicting the Guildhall windows.

St. Columb's Park, Derry
St. Columb’s Park, Derry

Our morning stroll continued into the adjacent St. Columb’s Park, a natural woodland area bordering the river with various walking trails.  The trees were looking at their best with leaves starting to put on their autumn display of golden shades of yellow and brown.  We followed a path taking us along the riverside from where there are fine city views across the water.

The Peace Bridge and Guildhall, Derry
The Peace Bridge and Guildhall, Derry

We had timed our walk well as we arrived at the Guildhall just as it was opening at 11.00 a.m. (free admission).  This magnificent building overlooking the River Foyle is fashioned in neo-gothic style and is a stunning local landmark boasting the second largest clock face in the British Isles after London’s Big Ben.

The Guildhall, Derry
The Guildhall, Derry

The building was originally named Victoria Hall as, at the time of its construction, it was a custom to name buildings within the British Empire after the current reigning monarch.  The Guildhall takes its current name in honour of its connection to the City of London and its Guilds and has been at the heart of the city since 1887, presiding over Guildhall Square.

Derry Guildhall
Derry Guildhall

On entering the grand hall we viewed the magnificent window alongside tall plaques relating to the history of the building and the city.  The Guildhall contains a vast collection of stunning stained glass windows which were donated by London companies representing local crafts from tailors to fishmongers.  The windows recount the history of the city from its earliest days and are a celebration of the achievements of the City of Derry.

Stained Glass Windows in The Guildhall, Derry
Stained Glass Windows in The Guildhall, Derry

Former mayors and civic dignitaries also donated windows depicting economic developments with other windows featuring the achievements of the three Irish divisions of the British army.

Derry Guildhall Organ
Derry Guildhall Organ

The most recent window commemorates the victims of Bloody Sunday on 30th January 1972 with a trail of poppies symbolising remembrance for the deceased whose names are written on crosses.

The Council Chamber, Guildhall, Derry
The Council Chamber, Guildhall, Derry

The Guildhall is still a working building serving as a meeting place for the elected members of Derry and Strabane District Council and is also home to the Council Chamber and Mayor’s Parlour.  Additionally, it’s a popular venue for weddings and other social events.

City of Derry Coat of Arms
City of Derry Coat of Arms

After exploring the magnificent building we visited the Plantation of Ulster exhibition on the ground floor.  Through interactive experiences we learnt about the colonisation of Ulster during the reign of King James I in the 17th century and viewed numerous interesting historical artefacts including the Great Parchment Book.

Siege Gun, Tower Museum Derry
Siege Gun at the Tower Museum, Derry

From there, we made our way to the nearby Tower Museum, standard admission £4, open daily 10.00-16.00 to further our knowledge of the city.  This museum appears small from the exterior but is surprisingly large with modern, well laid out galleries depicting the Story of Derry through the Plantation of Londonderry, the Siege of Derry and following the city’s growth.  The interesting galleries take visitors through the 18th and 19th centuries with exhibits exploring the city’s colourful and dramatic history.

Chariot on display in the Tower Museum, Derry
Carriage on display in the Tower Museum, Derry

Also covered are the dramatic events of the early 20th century including Partition which is presented in a balanced way taking into account all aspects of this difficult period.  A further gallery focuses on the Troubles and its impact on the lives of people living in Derry during this period.  A wide range of artefacts and interactive displays make the museum suitable for all ages with dressing up clothes and brass rubbing to keep young children engaged.

Spanish Armada artefacts at the Tower Museum, Derry
Recovered cannon from the La Trinidad Valencera

A separate permanent exhibition in the tower itself is entitled An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera which sank off the Donegal coast in 1588 and was rediscovered by divers from the City of Derry Sub-Aqua Club in 1971.  This fascinating display includes numerous interesting relics retrieved from the ship including a cannon, goblets, coins and shoes.

View from the rooftop of the Tower Museum, Derry
View from the rooftop of the Tower Museum, Derry

Before leaving the museum we took the lift to the top of the tower as there is an outdoor viewing terrace with panoramic views across the city and riverside.

Tea and scones in the Guild cafe, Derry
Tea and scones in the Guild cafe, Derry

We were then ready for a coffee so we wandered back across to the Guildhall which has an attractive cafe on its ground floor called GuildIt appeared to be a popular meeting places for locals and visitors alike with a large outdoor terrace overlooking the riverside.  We relaxed awhile with tea and scones thinking about where to head next.

The Free Derry sign in the Bogside district of the city
The Free Derry sign in the Bogside district of the city

Feeling refreshed after our lunch break we decided to return to the Bogside area so that we could view the series of 12 murals known as The People’s Gallery along Roseville Street and Lecky Road.  The Bogside area takes its name because the land where the old city was built was originally an island in the River Foyle and when the river diverted to its current course it left behind a marshy wetland.  Below are photos of a selection of the murals.

Murals in Bogside, Derry

Murals in Bogside, Derry
Murals in Bogside, Derry

Over our weekend in Derry we had come to realise that the city is compact and easily walkable and with this being the case we had time to fit in a visit to St.Eugene’s Cathedral, the Catholic cathedral of Derry located in an elevated position outside the city walls on Infirmary Street.

St. Eugene's Cathedral, Derry
St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry

Constructed in 1873, the beautiful interior features a huge stained glass window behind the high altar and original carved oak pews illuminated by ornate Victorian standard lamps.  (Admission free, donations welcome).

Interior of St. Eugene's Cathedral, Derry
Interior of St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry

Slightly further along Infirmary Street stands Brooke Park so we took a short walk through its gardens.  The park first opened in 1901 and features ornamental flowerbeds, lawns and an attractive small pond overlooked by Gwyn’s Cafe and Pavilion.

Brooke Park, Derry
Brooke Park, Derry

There was little in flower but the autumn tints made up for this and we strolled along the tree lined paths before returning to the hotel to collect our bags.  Our weekend in Derry had been wonderful and we had enjoyed every minute of it.  Whatever you prefer to call the city it doesn’t matter because to us and probably everyone else who has been there and experienced the warm welcome, it is best described as LegenDerry!

The Willows, Limavady, Derry
The Willows, Limavady, Derry

After taking a taxi back to the airport we collected a hire car from Hertz, piled our bags in the boot and drove the short distance to Limavady in the scenic Roe Valley.  We had arranged to spend the night at The Willows which offers luxury bed and breakfast accommodation in the main house exclusively for adults and self-catering suites in the grounds ideal for families.

Bedroom at The Willows, Limavady
The cosy interior of The Willows, Limavady

We received a warm welcome from Annie, the owner and her gorgeous Yorkshire terrier Mabel.  After sitting down to tea and homemade scones we settled into Aspen, our charming room on the first floor of the main house complete with a large stylish en-suite bathroom.

Gazebo dining area at The Willows, Limavady
Gazebo dining area at The Willows, Limavady

For guests use there are gas barbecues and a pizza oven which must be a lovely way to spend a relaxing evening outdoors in warmer weather.  With the weather not being at its best, we opted to eat out and had reserved a table for dinner in the Coach House at the nearby Roe Park Resort.

The Coach House, Roe Park Resort at night, Limavady
The Coach House, Roe Park Resort, Limavady

It only took about ten minutes to drive to the large resort which specialises in golf breaks but is open to non-residents for meals.  The Coach House restaurant lies on the upper floor and divided into sections giving it a more intimate feel.  Service was attentive and from the menu with enjoyed melon with a raspberry sorbet and a prawn cocktail with baked cod and roast duck to follow. All the dishes were nicely presented, of a generous size and tasted delicious.

Coach House Restaurant, Roe Park Resort, Limavady
Coach House Restaurant, Roe Park Resort, Limavady

Having tucked into freshly baked scones a little earlier we resisted the temptation of a dessert despite them looking very appetising as they were being served to nearby tables.

Relaxing in the hot tub at The Willows, Limavady
Relaxing in the hot tub at The Willows, Limavady

Our evening hadn’t ended there because back at The Willows we spent an hour relaxing in the hot tub with glasses of Prosecco.  I’d never experienced a hot tub like it as this Canadian designed tub came equipped with fountains, sprays and colourful lights which we enjoyed experimenting with whilst relaxing our muscles in the warm bubbles, the perfect way to end a memorable day!

 

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39 thoughts on “Day 2. Derry Guildhall & Bogside

  1. Pingback: Day 4. Giant’s Causeway & Boat Tour, Northern Ireland – Love Travelling Blog

  2. What a fantastic post about one of my favourite places, Marion! While most tourists visit Northern Ireland for the UNESCO-listed Giant’s Causeway, or the famous Belfast Titanic shipyard, many miss out on the regions second-largest city, Derry. It has a troubled history, both because of its proximity to the Irish border and the historical Plantation of Ulster, but it’s also full of history, powerful murals, spectacular surrounding villages and Northern Ireland’s most beautiful bridge. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 3 people

  3. The skies may be dreary, but the warm, autumnal colors from the leaves still shine through for a beautiful stay in Derry! To enjoy a cozy time at the café with a scone sounds perfect, and that hot tub at night definitely sets up such a soothing ambiance. Glad you enjoyed your time there!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s always neat to see how different the city can look in the daylight compared to at night. The Guildhall looks pretty with all the stained glass windows. Your accommodations look so charming. I love the outdoor Gazebo dining area. It’s too bad about the weather though.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I loved the Tower Museum when I visited there. We spent more time in that museum than we did anywhere else. Wonderful tour of so many places in the city. The murals on the buildings are beautiful and sad and really show the feelings of what was going on. Excellent post Marion 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nothing better than a hot tub to loosen up after a sightseeing day. Your accommodation looks lovely. Some really iconic sights are featured in your post that I am yet to visit. Must have been emotionally difficult to visit the Bogside and learn about events that are indelibly etched into our memory and consciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was indeed a moving experience to visit the Bogside district of Derry and to view the People’s Gallery Wall Murals. The Willows in Limavady was a gorgeous place to stay and the hot tub very relaxing. I could have just done with its muscle relieving benefits the following evening as you’ll see why in my next post! Thanks so much for your interest in these posts Leighton.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Many of the same paths we walked and sights we saw in 2017, Marion. I remember the overwhelming sense of sadness we felt touring the Bogside and the Museum of Free Derry near the sight of Bloody Sunday. Let us hope all parties move past their differences and continue to make Derry, LegenDerry as the tour guides all say. Thanks for sharing. Safe Travels. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your post described exactly what one wants to to see when exploring a city … visiting interesting museums, see colourful murals, a beautiful cathedral and a lovely walk through a park! Derry indeed looks like a great city to visit!
    And I must add: Just love your room at The Willows (oh, that hot tub is wonderful)!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Another blogger recently wrote about his visit to the same place and the weather was fabulous. I see normal service (rain) has resumed. But no one goes to Ireland for the weather! Another of your highly informative travel blogs, thanks Marion.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Not only was your arrival at the Guildhall timely on account of its opening hours, but I imagine – with that lowering sky – you just beat the rain as well. There’s a reason Ireland is the Emerald Isle. Your post also reminded me that when we did our road trip, perhaps around 2000, we stayed in privately owned B&Bs and they were mostly modern and beautifully fitted out as your experience at The Willows. It had something to do with government funding grants. This may have been in southern Ireland, which at the time was riding a wave of prosperity to do with being a leader in IT outsourcing. None of which has anything to do with this trip, just random memories that are popping up as I follow your story and photos.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Gwen for your welcome thoughts on my visit to Northern Ireland. Staying at The Willows was absolutely lovely place and we enjoyed having a good mix of accommodation styles, all being of a high standard during our trip. It felt a little sad leaving lovely Derry but I’m sure we will be able to go back there again before too long. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

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