1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Londonderry (city)

LONDONDERRY, or Derry, a city, county of a city, parliamentary borough (returning one member) and the chief town of Co. Londonderry, Ireland, 4 m. from the junction of the river Foyle with Lough Foyle, and 95 m. N.N.W. of Belfast. Pop. (1901) 38,892. The city is situated on an eminence rising abruptly from the west side of the river to a height of about 120 ft. The eminence is surrounded by hills which reach, a few miles to the north, an elevation of upwards of 1500 ft., and the river and lough complete an admirable picture. The city is surrounded by an ancient rampart about a mile in circumference, having seven gates and several bastions, but buildings now extend beyond this boundary. The summit of the hill, at the centre of the town, is occupied by a quadrangular area from which the main streets diverge. Some old houses with high pyramidal gables remain but are much modernized. The Protestant cathedral of St Columba, in Perpendicular style, was completed from the design of Sir John Vanbrugh in 1633, at a cost of £4000 contributed by the city of London, and was enlarged and restored in 1887. The spire was added in 1778 and rebuilt in 1802. The bishop’s palace, erected in 1716, occupies the site of the abbey founded by Columba. The abbot of this monastery, on being made bishop, erected in 1164 Temple More or the “Great Church,” one of the finest buildings in Ireland previous to the Anglo-Norman invasion. The original abbey church was called the “Black Church,” but both it and the “Great Church” were demolished in 1600 and their materials used in fortifying the city. There is a large Roman Catholic cathedral, erected c. 1870 and dedicated to St Eugenius. For Foyle College, founded in 1617, a new building was erected in 1814. This and the Academical Institution, a foundation of 1868, were amalgamated in 1896. Magee College, taking its name from its foundress, Mrs Magee of Dublin, was instituted in 1857 as a training-school for the Presbyterian ministry.

The staple manufacture of the town is linen (especially shirt-making), and there are also shipbuilding yards, iron-foundries, saw-mills, manure-works, distilleries, breweries and flour-mills. The salmon fishery on the Foyle is valuable. The river affords a commodious harbour, its greatest depth being 33 ft. at high tide, and 12 ft. at low tide. It is under the jurisdiction of the Irish Society. The port has a considerable shipping trade with Great Britain, exporting agricultural produce and provisions. Regular services of passenger steamers serve Londonderry from Glasgow, Liverpool, Morecambe, Belfast and local coast stations. In 1898 Londonderry was constituted one of the six county boroughs which have separate county councils.

About 5 m. W. of the city, on a hill 803 ft. high, is a remarkable fort, consisting of three concentric ramparts, and an interior fortification of stone. It is named the Grianan of Aileach, and was a residence of the O’Neills, kings of Ulster. It was restored in 1878.

Derry, the original name of Londonderry, is derived from Doire, the “place of oaks.” It owes its origin to the monastery founded by Columba about 546. With the bishopric which arose in connexion with this foundation, that of Raphoe was amalgamated in 1834. From the 9th to the 11th century the town was frequently in the possession of the Danes, and was often devastated, but they were finally driven from it by Murtagh O’Brien about the beginning of the 12th century. In 1311 it was granted by Edward II. to Richard de Burgh. After the Irish Society of London obtained possession of it, it was incorporated in 1613 under the name of Londonderry. From this year until the Union in 1800 two members were returned to the Irish parliament. The fortifications, which were begun in 1600, were completed in 1618. In 1688 Derry had become the chief stronghold of the Protestants of the north. On the 7th of December certain of the apprentices in the city practically put themselves and it in a stage of siege by closing the gates, and on the 19th of April 1689 the forces of James II. began in earnest the famous siege of Derry. The rector of Donaghmore, George Walker, who, with Major Baker, was chosen to govern Derry, established fame for himself for his bravery and hopefulness during this period of privation, and the historic answer of “No surrender,” which became the watchword of the men of Derry, was given to the proposals of the besiegers. The garrison was at the last extremity when, on the 30th of July, ships broke through the obstruction across the harbour and brought relief. Walker and the siege are commemorated by a lofty column (1828), bearing a statue of the governor, on the Royal Bastion, from which the town standards defied the enemy; and the anniversary of the relief is still observed.