The old defensive walls surrounding the City of Derry are one if its main attractions. Extending one mile in circumference, they reach to 26 feet high and 30 feet wide in places. Derry is the only city in Ireland or the UK with a fully intact perimeter wall. Derry's walls dominate the centre of the city -- you can't miss them. There are now eight gates (entrances through the wall) to the city, up from the original four. 24 cannon used in the 1689 siege of Derry, and restored in 2005, are still visible. Alongside each cannon is a plaque, listing its origin and manufacturer.
Wall walks are a popular visitor attraction in Derry city. The entire walk, stopping at interesting sights, takes about two hours. A tour guide is recommended, though not required -- the walls are free and open to the public. Wall walks take visitors past major visitor attractions, such at
- The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall
- St Columb's Cathedral
- The Bogside
- St. Augustines' Church
- The River Foyle
- The Peace Bridge
- The Guildhall
Construction of the wall was completed in 1618, funded by the London trade guilds in charge of the plantation of new settlers from England and Scotland. Its original purpose was to serve as a defence against Donegal's Gaelic chieftains, and to protect commerce in the growing port. Due to the centuries of growth and development, most of the modern city lies beyond the perimeter of these ancient walls, which have never been breached in battle, despite even the attempt of the forces of King James II in 1689. More than 7,000 of the 20,000 or so citizens died from starvation or illness, but the city stood firm throughout, protected by these massive walls.
Gun at Derry City Walls. Image: Barry McGee
Derry walls at night. Image by Nicolas Raymond