I live in Derry City/Londonderry in the North of Ireland, and I do quite love it. It may not be a city in the way that New York… or even Dublin is, but it’s a great city in its own right. I wanted to share some of the positive things about my city with you, it just kind of struck me that we all come from vastly different walks of life, and it might be nice to get an insight into my home town. Please feel free to do the same with yours, and share with us, I am very interested! So… my favourite things about Derry…
1. The Craft Village
STEP BACK IN TIME IN THIS CHARMING CRAFT VILLAGE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY.
The craft Village is located in the area between lower Shipquay St. and Magazine St. in the centre of the city. This village combines lovely craft shops, balconied apartments, a licensed restaurant and a coffee shop.
It is a reconstruction of an 18th Century street and 19th Century square. It incorporates a variety of multipurpose retail outlets. Above the shops are modern apartments incorporated into the design of the Village. The Village was opened by President of Ireland, Mary Robinson in 1992. (From Here)
I really do love this little place. When I was born in 1989 my Mum and Dad and I lived in a little flat with an arch window on Magazine Street for a year and a bit and they say we used to watch the ‘village’ being built. Maybe that’s why I love it! It’s always quiet and calm, the gates are locked at night, people live above the shops in little apartments connected with wooden bridges, and at Christmas there are old-fashioned strings of colourful bulbs and the atmosphere is gorgeous. It really is like a little time warp. It has a traditional wool shop, and Irish music shop, a little pub, a traditional Irish cottage and a lovely paved square. It’s a little quite square right in the middle of the city centre. If I end up staying in Derry when I’m a big girl then I will endeavor to live here. There’s a second-hand book shop called ‘Foyle Books’ here and it’s so quiet that I feel obliged to talk in a strangled whisper and tread VERY carefully when I’m walking between the charmingly piled stacks of books.
2. Friendly People
Strangers will smile and give you a ‘How you doin?’ here, people will generally say excuse me if you are in their way, sorry if they bump into you, most shop assistants are chatty and helpful, taxi men talk the ears off you even when you aren’t in the mood for it, and personal space is often unheard of. I must say that I prefer this to places I’ve been where you have to leap out of the way before someone attempts to barge straight through you, where people are afraid to make eye contact incase you are a psycho, where train carriages are silent as no one speaks to each other. It puts a smile on your face if someone with a big dirty Derry accent cracks a joke when they are handing you your change or giving you your bus ticket. Visitors almost always comment on the friendliness. Our hearts are in the right place and I love us for it.
(Drawing from here)
3. City of Culture 2013
After the huge, ‘Just Say Yes’ campaign, I’m really glad that Derry has been nominated for the City of Culture 2013. It will bring welcome tourism and funding to this great city, as well as the recognition that it deserves. We have gained a beautiful, new Peace Bridge. Derry has a rich cultural history, and lots of musical talent. There is a huge new concert venue in the Ebrington centre and I’m hoping that the first band/artist they get is a big one so the venue of Derry/Londonderry is put on the musical map. We’re tired of always having to go to Belfast and further afield to see the big bands. It will be a nightmare to get tickets for the first show announced, everyone will be so excited! The Millenium Forum is a beautiful venue but it is too small to attract many big names. Here’s hoping the year 2013 brings many more exciting things for us.
The official film produced to support the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture
2013 bid (Still makes me cry! Derry deserves this!) :
Fireworks and everyone dressing up in costume on Halloween night. Although I can no longer partake of this one, having to work every Saturday in life: Buns and newspapers and tea on Saturday mornings. Midnight/ late night Mass on Christmas Eve. Chips or a Chinese after a night out, around 2a.m, or a Swanky Franky’s. Getting a birthday cake with an embarrassing photo of you on top for ‘big’ birthdays from Doherty’s bakery. The Derry Journal on a Tuesday and a Friday. I|’m sure there are many more and they are happy and comforting. Can you think of any?
(Photo from here)
5. Coming Home
Even though I find my city boring and claustrophobic among other things at times, I always love coming home. Even when I’ve been away on a holiday and I’m sad that I have to go home, the first Derry accent I hear at the airport always makes the corners of my mouth twitch and a little gladness enter my heart. My family is in Derry and it’s all tied up together in a way. It’s a relief to see the familiar streets come into view after a long journey. The first time I was homesick was probably the first time I was abroad, I was 17 and it was only for a week, to a little pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia and a visit to a refugee camp there with my youth group. I had just started going out with M and I had used my phone as an alarm clock the morning I left and forgotten it. This worsened the problem. My Dad went back to get it but by the time he did the bus had left. I cried on the phone to Mum and Mickey and they were so worried about me. As the bus rolled down the strand road, it must have been a friday or saturday night when we got home, the street lights gleamed in the predictable rain and my shoulder was numb from someones heavy, sweaty head resting on it half the journey from Belfast. From one of the night clubs people had spilled into the street and I felt a rush of love towards one of my older friends who I spotted amongst the revellers. A familiar face in a split second, and I was happy to be home after my slightly traumatic week. Everyone got a kick out of that story. Anyway, I always feel a little peace and happiness on returning to the ‘town I loved so well.’
EDIT: I am going to try to stick to Thursdays at least for updating my blog – It’s becoming a bit too erratic – If I want to update a bit more regularly that’s ok too 🙂 I will let you know if I have to change this! I don’t have the posts all lined up in advance like most organised people…