Collage of photos from across derry

Early History

a photo of Early History

The name Derry comes from the Irish Doire which means oak grove, this name was given to the small settlement on the hill that later became the walled city of Londonderry because it contained a large number of oak trees. The hill was once an island with the River Foyle on one side and wetlands on the other side, since then the River Foyle has moved significantly east and the wetlands are dried up and are now the Bogside/Brandywell.

It is believed that there were forts owned by local kings on the island watching the Foyle and in the 6th century is was given away by the kings to become a religious settlement. Exact details of the early religious settlement are unclear as there is little evidence left of the monastery but the founding is credited to St Columba(Cholmcille).

St Columba was an Irish abbot and missionary evangelist from what is now Donegal that spread Christianity to parts of Scotland and Ireland in the 6th century. According to information from the 12th century St Columba directly founded his first monastery here, other evidence suggests that the monastery was founded by Fiachra mac Ciaráin who was a cousin of St Columba.

Either way the connection with St Columba is engrained in the history of the city and many things have been named as St Columba including St Columb’s Park and St Columb’s Cathedral. Between the 6th Century and 11th century Doire Calgach as it was known at the time is believed to have been primarily a monastic settlement.

In the 12th century the settlement was known as Doire Cholmcille, it was part of the family of monasteries associated with St Columba and then became known as head of Columban monasteries in Ireland. There was a large church known as Teampall Mór meaning Great Church, that was on the site of the Long Tower Church & St Columb’s Heritage Centre that was believed to be the site of the original monastery although it’s now thought to have been on the site of St Augustine’s Church. Many stories were written in the abbey of Derry during the 12th century about the life of St Columba that have been part of city’s story since medieval times till the present day.

Over the next few hundred years there was some settlement in the area by Norman colonists, in the 14th century it was acquired by the 2nd Earl of Ulster Richard de Burgh and became part of the Earldom of Ulster until it’s collapse. It remained a small settlement and managed to avoid any major damage from Viking raids in the 14th Century who sailed up the loughs and rivers in the area.

For more information on St Columba and the city's early history visit

St Columba's Heritage Centre
a small photo ofSt Columba's Heritage Centre
St Columba is widely known as the founding father of Derry, the St Columba's Heritage Centre was setup up to promote the heritage and history of St Columba. The centre is on the grounds of the Long Tower Church in the restored building of the Saint Columba’s National School. It offers an interactive experience showing the life of St Columba.

The next major part of Derry’s history is

a small photo ofPlantation
What became the City of Derry was part of the relatively new County Donegal up until 1610. In that year, the west bank of the future city was transferred by the English Crown to The Honourable The Irish Society and was combined with County Coleraine, part of County Antrim and a large portion of County Tyrone to form County Londonderry. Planters organised by London livery companies through The Honourable The Irish Society arrived in the 17th century as part of the Plantation of Ulster, and rebuilt the town with high walls to defend it from Irish insurgents who opposed the plantation. The aim was to settle Ulster with a population supportive of the Crown. It was then renamed "Londonderry".