The UK city of culture for 2013 is Londonderry in Northern Ireland. This city which is renowned for its division, has had the spot light cast on it this year and it’s a chance for Derry/Londonderry to show itself in a better light in the 21st century.
So why has Derry/Londonderry got such a chequered past and has being announced the city of culture for this year helped to alter its reputation?
About The City
Even the name of the city is a point of controversy for its inhabitants with the loyalist community calling it Londonderry and the nationalists referring to it simply as Derry to avoid any association with London and Britain. Derry/Londonderry first became notorious through the siege of the city that occurred in 1689 and another notorious incident at the height of the troubles also took place in there, which was ‘Bloody Sunday’. These things contributed to the city’s reputation of being a troubled place marred by sectarian division.
Derry/Londonderry is also relished for its beauty and its walls as it’s the only fully walled city remaining in Ireland. So was it the right choice to make Derry/Londonderry the city of culture for 2013?
The city has hosted many concerts, art exhibits, theatre productions, comedy shows and much more over the past year. All of these entertainment pieces have proved to be very successful and it has generated a lot of income and tourism for the city and its businesses. One of the most successful events was Radio 1’s Big Weekend which saw acts all over the world visiting Northern Ireland and people from all over the UK coming to stay in Derry/Londonderry. The Big Weekend generated some very positive press for the city and their inhabitant which is helping change the public opinion on this once troubled city.
People from across Britain, Ireland, Europe and the world have visited Derry/Londonderry this year as a result of the attention being the city of culture brings with it. So what have the visitors to the city thought of it? The vast majority of accounts have been positive and full of praise for the city’s beauty, the kindness of the people who live there and the great events that are available for them to enjoy. There have been some minor problems in the city during the year but nothing major and there has been nothing to deter people coming from all over the world to visit this often overlooked part of the country.
What’s The Future For The City?
There is no doubt that Derry/Londonderry has a much brighter future than it did just a few years ago. The title of city of culture has helped it to shrug off the shackles of its dark past but the troubles that the city has experienced are still pretty fresh in the minds of many and especially those who live there. The truth is that it’s up to the people of the city to maintain the momentum of positive energy that has been created in 2013 and not let the city fall back into the dark days. There is still sectarian division and tension in the city which is true for much of Northern Ireland and there is an unwanted presence of ‘The Real IRA’ and other sectarian paramilitaries who want to drag this reformed city back into the past.
Chris Tolan is local historian who has written about Derry/Londonderry and the events that have shaped the city. If you want to visit this city for yourself find out how at Ireland Luxury Tours.