Specifically Londonderry, which we visited on Tuesday. Republicans, some of whom who have scored out part of the name on many of the road signs heading out from Belfast, know it as “derry”.
As I’d only heard about the city as part of the history of the Troubles I had no concept of what this little place was going to present to us, and I have to say it was a total surprise, most of it pleasant.
I wasn’t aware, for example, that the city has an entirely intact city wall, completed in 1618 to protect the inhabitants from raiders, which is pierced by seven gates in all. Again, the influx of European money is clearly in evidence here as well, as the entire area around the old Guildhall is being refreshed to turn it into an Irish version of a traditional Italian piazza. Even without stepping inside, the Tower Museum is also a remarkable sight.
There’s also a small but perfectly formed Cathedral, dedicated to St Columb, which overlooks the part of the city that continues to show evidence of the Troubles, the Bogside. The problems in Northern Ireland are historically deemed to have stemmed from here after the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ which took place in the summer of 1969, and during which over 1000 people were injured – curb stones on the estate resolutely remain painted in red, white and blue to this day.
If you’re visiting Northern Ireland then the city really has to be on your itinerary but, given its tiny dimensions, an afternoon should give you enough time to see it all.