If 'stones could speak', what a story they would have to tell. Their voices still echo on the walls and in the city streets.
According to tradition St. Colm Cille chose the oak grove on top of the hill for his monastery in 546 AD. His community became a beacon of light and learning throughout Europe. Around it grew a settlement with a stronghold, cathedral and port.
In 1610 the City of London Companies agreed to build a new city on the Foyle in return for land in King James I's new plantation. Their legacy is Ireland's most complete town walls with their 'roaring cannon' and the first post-Reformation cathedral in the British Isles. The accents of Planter and Gael still shape the city's culture and traditions.
The fertile banks of the Foyle have been disputed territory since prehistoric times. The city withstood two sieges, each of over a hundred days. In 1689 it was caught up in the struggle between James II and William III for the English throne. By the time the siege was reli[e]ved, the citizens were starving but their indomitable spirit remained unbroken.
In succeeding centuries the city prospered, expanding beyond the walls and across the river. Industries like shirt making and whisky distilling flourished while the port became a leading centre of international trade. From the 18th century many thousands of emigrants left from the quaysides to start a new life in North America. They transplanted their traditions to new territories. During the Second World War, convoys left the Foyle to help win the Battle of the Atlantic and sailors from many parts of the globe spent their shore leave in the city.
The city played its part in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and experienced its share of conflict and tragedy during the Troubles. By 1980 a third of the buildings within the walls had been damaged or destroyed. Yet the people's spirit was undefeated, expressed in a burst of creativity from poetry to punk.
With the return of peace, the city reinvented itself again as a regional city, University campus, a fusion of Irish and British culture and an international tourist destination.
The city is still making history today. Experience it.