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City launches celebration of the completion of historic Walls

10 September 2018

Derry’s famous Walls will be the focus of a special programme of events celebrating 400 years since the completion of the building of the world famous landmark, launched at the weekend by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane in Guildhall Square.

The launch fittingly took place on Derry Walls Day, September 8th, and the European Heritage Open Days weekend which takes place annually on the second week of September.

March 2019 officially marks the quadricentennial since the building work, which was funded by the Honourable the Irish Society, came to an end, completing some of the finest walled fortifications in Europe. From 1613-1618 a team of stone masons worked to build robust defences to protect English and Scottish settlers in the city, and that work has stood the test of centuries of conflict and violence including the two famous sieges of the 17th century.

The Walls are recognised as a huge tourism asset for the North West and play a key role in the new Tourism Strategy which was recently unveiled for the region, as the Mayor, Councillor John Boyle, explained.

“Much work is being done to develop the tourism potential of the North West, and the city’s iconic Walls play a huge part in campaign. We need to adopt a collaborative approach to unlocking the potential of Derry as a heritage-rich ‘Walled City’ and a unique and exciting tourism destination. The Walls are also a living monument to be enjoyed by the local community and I hope to see local groups and organisations joining the celebrations over this anniversary period by engaging with the programme.

“I am delighted to launch this programme of events today on behalf of Council and supported by the Department for Communities and the Honourable the Irish Society, which will begin a campaign of celebration and the development of new experiences centring around the Walls. This is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Walls, one which will shine a spotlight on their vital role in the growth and development of our beautiful and historic city.”

Iain Greenway, Director of the DfC Historic Environment Division, and chair of the Walls Management Group, said: “HED aims to help communities enjoy and realise the value of our historic environment and for the last fourteen years in particular we have worked hard with partners, including the council, to create a strong management framework which has resulted in conservation works, events, marketing and physical investment. This has contributed to a significant increase in the number of visitors. 

“This programme of events to mark the 400th anniversary is an important addition to this work and will help ensure that the monument’s potential, to celebrate history and draw visitors to the city, can be enhanced, in this, its anniversary year.”

From summer 2018 until March 2020, Council and its tourism and community partners will work on enhancing existing events and programmes in keeping with the Walls celebration. Over 400,000 people each year already visit the iconic landmark, with the prospect of further developing the tourism potential and drawing even more visitors from home and abroad.

Tourism Manager with Council, Jennifer O’Donnell said: “It’s important that we take this opportunity to explore how we can develop the outstanding heritage destination potential of the City and region. The 400 year anniversary of the completion of the walls provides a great platform for us to launch this campaign and an opportunity to showcase what is such an important heritage asset.

“This year, 2018, is also the European Year of Cultural Heritage presenting an opportunity to capitalise upon an interest in celebrating heritage across all of Europe. We hope to do this through a series of events and we are opening this opportunity up to other community groups and organisations who may want to host events or heritage related programmes which could contribute to the celebration and add depth and variety to the programme. Council will co-ordinate and develop a collaborative marketing programme to support this activity.”

Over the course of the weekend heritage venues opened their doors to let the public enjoy free tours of the Tower Museum, Guildhall and Harbour House. A special Surveyor’s treasure hunt also took place marking Derry Walls Day throughout the city’s museums and historic buildings, with the help of some living history performers who brought the events of the past to life. The theme for this year took its inspiration from the appointment of Captain Nicholas Pynnar in 1618 to survey the Derry Walls.

If you have any events or heritage related activities that you would like included in the Walls celebratory programme please contact [email protected] 

For the full detailed programme, which will be continuously updated over the next two years, visit walledcity400.com