Londonderry or Derry? As you approach a city with seemingly 2 names – you will see the battles commence. There are many signs on the motorways (highways) and roads trying to tell you the direction and/or how many miles to drive to arrive at the second largest city in Northern Ireland. It’s an amazing historic and vibrant city that is also the 4th largest city on the Irish Island. But what is the battle?
If you are Catholic – you will call the city ‘Derry’. If you are Protestant you will call it ‘Londonderry’. As I was driving along 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.
The battle of Nowhere won!
At least, given the death and pain, today the battle are with a spray can of paint, nit an assault riffle 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.
'Coffee making facilities’ is the odd way this fantastic bit of British Culture is usually described. You get an electric kettle, tea, coffee, milk, sugar and biscuits (cookies) in your room! That’s every room. Whether you stay at a 5 star luxury hotel, countryside Bed & Breakfast or the worst hotel in London – you get this! In some places like America you get a whole pot of coffee – that’s it. Here you get a choice and it’s there before you leave your room. Nice to have a cup of coffee ready when you get out of the shower.
I remember as a child in the 1960's and 70's a common sight was the "Lemonade Man". This was essentially an open sided rigid lorry that went from door to door delivering lemonade (soda for my American readers). The two main rivals were Braid and Maine brands which were both from Ballymoney in County Antrim and actually both derived from the one family. In the way of things going round in circles, Maine have now bought over Braid in 1995, so they are all the one operation again.
With the advent of out of town supermarkets etc., and everybody having cars, I had presumed that the lemonade man of my childhood memory had long since gone the way of newspaper and doorstep milk delivery. You cannot imagine how delighted I was when looked out the window of my Father's house to see the sight recorded in the photo here. There he was, on a weekday evening, in a small estate in a small village, delivering the stuff to the door. I was amazed.
Actually, checking the website, I was amazed at the selection on offer. I'll bet you haven't heard of half the varieties here.
Lime & Lemon
Lemon & Lime American Cola
American Cream Soda
Softberry Diet Orange
Diet Cloudy Lime
Diet Cream Soda
Diet Iron Brew
Strawberry & Kiwi.
Great isn't it? Long may it continue.
The colours of the Birtish union flag can be seen painted onto the kerbstones in working class protestant areas associated with unionism and loyalism in Northern Ireland. The colour orange is taken from the orange order which was created to celebrate the victory of King William III of Orange (dutchman) over the catholic King James in the Battle of the Boyne 1690.
In Belfast you can see the red white and blue on the kerbstones in protestant area but on the catholic side the kerbstone were painted green, orange and white the coulours of the republic of Ireland, but most of the kerbstones on this side have been painted white.
Some people in northern Ireland will use colloquialisms... I thought it'd be fun and maybe even useful to you if I wrote some here:
'Alright mate' = 'hi!'
What's the craic? = What's been happening in your life/have you been doing much recently?
That was a Belter! = (in reference to something that happened) that was brilliant (usually something really funny that happened)
mucker = friend
banter = joking around with friends or teasing a friend
I wouldn't necessarily use these in every day conversation but if someone says them to you, at least you'll know what they mean!
With increasing prosperity in the Province, a great party atmosphere and the rise of cheap flights to Belfast – this has become one of THE places to have a Stag Do. What is a Stag Do? It’s the male equivalent of the Hen Night. What is a Hen Night? Well, before the wedding the Bride and Groom to be have to go out one last night with their friends, dress up strangely, start drinking industrial quantities of alcohol by breakfast and generally get into trouble with law enforcement. It’s just how these things work. Don’t worry, you can join in even if you don’t know the condemned man. Do they look sober? Yes, it is broad daylight.
All over Northern Ireland you will find signs of conflict and the "troubles", be it in the form of armoured police cars, police stations resembling prisons with their iron doors and barbed wire, or watchtowers which are scattered all over the countryside. Many of them were built on hills for a better view, constituting an eyesore that is spoiling an otherwise lovely landscape. In the wake of the Good Friday Agreement some of them have been dismantled in the meantime.
This particular specimen sits inside the Derry City Walls, overlooking the Bogside below.
Update: On visiting Derry again in February 2008 this particular watchtower on the City Walls had also been taken down.
British Pound is used in Northern Ireland.
Unlike US Dollars, Japanese Yen, and Euros, bank notes are used in NI so you'll see different GBP10 notes and different GBP50 notes used in NI.
All notes are accepted in Northern Ireland, other UK and Ireland, but sometimes you have trouble exchanging it in US, so it's better to exchange it back to US$ or to Euro before you leave NI.
I usually take money out from ATM in each country, which seems to have better exchange rate.
In Northern Ireland there is a lot of slang. This isn't a guide to try and use it, but to understand it. If you haven't lived there for a long time you will notice that when you try to say some slang it just doesn't come out right. Good luck!
What's the Craic wee lad? = How are you my friend?
Bout ye? = how are you?
Poke = soft ice cream
"99" = soft ice cream with a flake stuck in it
Bap = Bun (like burger bun)
Bun = Cupcake
Wait till I tell ye = start a conversation with this when something important to say
Cheers = not only to toast to a drink, but also for thanks
Are you away? = are you going?
Pull = pick up at a bar/club
Boggin = literally dirty Mingin = ugly
Ice Lolly = popsicle
All the best! = Goodbye, wish you the best
Bollucks = bullsh*t
Keep her lit = keep your energy levels up. Also used as general words of encouragement
Wise up = be sensible
Norn Irn = Short for Northern Ireland
The great thing is that the accents change as you move around this small country. Belfast can be a little harsher, Strabane has a different twang. Lisburn accents are clear.
The currency in Northern Ireland is the British Pound, whereas in the Republic of Ireland the currency is the Euro. However, very often the Euro will be accepted in Northern Ireland, especially around the border, and you will receive your change in British pounds.
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