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“If stones could speak…” reads a 1633 foundation stone in Derry-Londonderry’s St Columb’s Cathedral. Here, in the vestibule of this historic church, all is quiet. But if Derry’s walls were to speak – from 400-year-old ramparts, to modern-day political murals – they’d have some mighty tales to tell.
On a walking tour of Ireland’s only completely Walled City, you’re taking in this vibrant, diverse and friendly place from its finest vantage point.
Derry’s origins date back to the 6th century, when St Columba founded a monastery here; the city’s name comes from the old Irish word for oak-grove. It has endured so much – a siege, emigration, the Troubles – and survived.
“We’re the city with the acorns that become giant oaks,” says tour guide and local woman Finola Faller.
Almost 20 years showing visitors her hometown hasn’t dampened Finola’s passion for the place. She and her fellow guides here aren’t alone. People are proud of their city, welcoming you with big heart and broad smile. You meet some of them as you learn about the Ulster Plantation in the Tower Museum, explore the Siege Museum with one of the present-day Apprentice Boys, touch the original gate keys and locks in the cathedral, and hear about basket weavers in a cosy thatched cottage.
You’ll listen to tales of lost love and emigration as you make your way to the Bogside’s award-winning Museum of Free Derry. Here, you will hear moving personal accounts of the Troubles, see the People’s Gallery of murals, and discover why today, the city takes pride in its spirit of reconciliation.
As you make your way across the beautiful Peace Bridge, opened in 2011 and one of three bridges in the city, you’re off to meet a local Master Brewer at the Walled City Brewery. You sip, savour and reflect before raising a toast to a city sharing its story with the world.
Prices: from 10-20 persons £37.50pp. 20-45 persons £35pp. Advance booking required.