Londonderry or Derry? As you approach a city with seemingly 2 names – you will see small sample of the battles south of the border even here. There are many signs on the motorways (highways) and roads across Northern Ireland trying to tell you the direction and/or how many miles to drive to arrive at the second largest city in Northern Ireland (and the 4th largest city on the Irish Island). Here in Muff you will see signs in kilometres for the city in either Gaelic (Doire) of both Gaelic and English (Derry). And even an old road sign from before Irish independence in 1919 shows the official name of Londonderry. And just to show you the debate that still continues - you can see where paint has been put on the 'London' part of the sign. And removed - partially.
If you are Catholic – you will call the city ‘Derry’. If you are Protestant (over the border) you will call it ‘Londonderry’. As I was driving along on BOTH sides of the border I saw most road signs with the LONDON part spray painted out. Even just when it said L’Derry – the ‘L’ was painted out. Fair play to vandals of a Protestant background. I saw a few signs where DERRY was painted out and I seemed to be driving toward London itself.
And then there were the ultimate signs- both names painted out across the border. Both names painted out.
The battle of Nowhere won!
At least, given the death and pain, today the battle are with a spray can of paint, not an assault rifle in a crowd of civilians.
If you would like some history – here it is!
The official name of the city is Londonderry. Originally it was a village called Doire meaning ‘oak wood’ or ‘oak grove’ in Gaelic. In 1613, King James I granted the now city a Royal Charter and added ‘London’ when all of Ireland was part of an English, later United Kingdom. Interestingly the County Londonderry in which it resides in existed with the full name first. The County was created (there was never a ‘County Derry’) in reference to the London Livery Companies of the Irish Society. This was a venture that pioneered the colonisation of Northern Ireland.