Londonderry, also known as Derry, is one of six counties in Northern Ireland, and also the name of the main city in the county. The city is the second largest city of Northern Ireland. It lies close to the mouth of the River Foyle in the west of the Province, close to the border with County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland
Londonderry is reputed to have been founded by St. Columba in 546. The town was originally known in English as Derry (from the Irish an Doire, meaning "oak grove"). The prefix London was adopted in 1613 when a charter gave the livery companies of London special privileges in the town.
Today the name is a source of controversy, with (roughly) Protestants/Unionists using the name Londonderry and Catholics/Republicans calling it Derry. Those wishing to steer a middle course, or uncertain of the allegiance of those to whom they are talking, use "Derry/Londonderry" ("Derry-stroke-Londonderry"), and the broadcaster Gerry Anderson coined the term "Stroke City" in allusion to this dilemma. The most recent High Court decision (January 2007) affirms the name is officially Londonderry.
With money from the City of London, Londonderry was rebuilt and walled in 1618. The walls were able to withstand a siege by forces loyal to the ousted British monarch James II in 1689 which lasted from 18 April to 31 July, and which still occupies a prominent role in the Unionist/Loyalist identity (not least the slogan 'No Surrender'). In the nineteenth century Londonderry was noted for the manufacture of shirts. During the first period of devolved government in Northern Ireland following Partition in 1922 (between 1922 and 1972), the city was notorious for the gerrymandering of its local authority boundaries. Althgough it had a significant Roman Catholic majority population, it consistently returned (Protestant) Unionist-dominated councils.
Londonderry saw a great deal of violence in the early years of the 'Troubles' of the late twentieth century, most notably the 'Battle of the Bogside' in August 1969 (the event which prompted Britsh Home Secretary James Callaghan to send troops to Northern Ireland to restore order), and 'Bloody Sunday' (30 January 1972), when British troops shot dead fourteen civilians during a banned (but peaceful) civil rights march.
- ↑ High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland Queen's Bench Division Decisions (2007) NIQB 5