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Visitors flock to relive the stories of the Derry Walls

14 August 2018

The colourful history of Derry’s famous Walls has been brought to life in recent weeks thanks to a special project celebrating four centuries of the historic ramparts.

The Walls have Ears programme is a PEACE IV Tourism Project funded by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), and introduces some of the lively characters who have helped shaped the city’s history. The programme aims to chart the progress of peace over the centuries through animation and stories of ‘secret meetings of kings, plots, rebellion and sieges’.

The programme will continue until the end of August with story-telling events taking place every Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11.30am to 3.30pm – so there is still time to brush up on a bit of local history.

Tourism Project Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Linzi Simpson, said the sessions have really enhanced the visitor experience over the summer.

“We have been delighted at the number of visitors and local people alike who have been enjoying the animation on the Walls,” she said. “The city’s ramparts are a unique asset which have seen much change over the centuries and they certainly have their own stories to tell. The Walls have Ears programme is a fun way to bring those stories to life through some of the historic characters who would have witnessed the unfolding of the plots, dark deeds and sinister schemes that have changed the course of history.

“The programme is in keeping with the goals of the new tourism strategy for the region in developing the Walls as a world-class visitor attraction. We already welcome 400,000 visitors a year and we hope that by offering these experiences we can draw even more visitors from both home and abroad to enjoy this fantastic living monument.”

The Walls were built over a four-year period from 1613-1618 by the Honourable, the Irish Society as robust defences for English and Scottish settlers and are regarded as some of the finest complete walled fortifications in Europe. They have witnessed rebellions, sieges, and of course the recent events of the Troubles, stories which have been brought to life through professional Living History performances throughout the summer months. The performances involve hands-on period activities, music, song, and story-telling and plenty of fun for families, continuing until the end of the school holidays.

Among the colourful characters regaling the crowds are one of the accused conspirators of the 1615 Great Northern plot, Rory O’Cahan, and 17th Century Actor & Playwright George Farquhar. Witness the secret meeting between General Owen Roe O’Neill and General Sir Charles Coote as they try to end the forgotten siege of 1649, and enjoy an audience with King James II as he seeks the surrender of the town folk of the city during the Siege of Derry of 1689. Other famous faces include St Colmcille, Bishop of Derry Frederick Hervey and Cecil Frances Alexander.

For further information on the ‘Walls Have Ears’ summer animation programme visit www.derrystrabane.com/tourism