Derry – The last walled city to be built in Europe

Not only is Derry the last walled city to be built in Europe, but it is also the first planned and only completely walled city in the country and the largest monument in state care in Northern Ireland. They were built between 1613 – 1618 by The Honourable Irish Society to protect the early ‘planted’ Protestant settlers that arrived from England and Scotland. The city was granted a royal charter by King James I in 1613 and the “London” prefix was added, changing the legal name of the city to Londonderry even though ‘Derry’ is the more commonly used. The Walls are approximately one mile in circumference and now have 7 gates. The 4 originals were Ferryquay Gate, Bishop’s Gate, Butcher Gate, and Shipquay Gate. Derry’s grid pattern design with the central diamond was much copied in the colonies of British North America. In 1688 when the Catholic King James ll was deposed, most of Ireland stayed loyal however the new city of Londonderry took the side of the new King, William of Orange. When a Catholic army attempted to enter the City on December 1688, 13 Apprentice Boys shut the gates against them and the famous Siege of Derry began. The siege lasted 105 days until a wooden boom that had been erected across the River Foyle was broken by King William’s ships. This enabled food and supplies into the City but by this time thousands of people had already died of starvation. Derry has been nicknamed “The Maiden City” as its fortifications were never breached.