"I was born in Londonderry
I was born in Derry City too"

Londonderry is a city in North-west Northern Ireland. It is often called Derry.

The name "Stroke City" is used jokingly by a few folk to avoid controversy, because there is a political subtext to the choice of "Derry" or "Londonderry". The BBC Radio Foyle DJ Gerry Anderson used to refer to the place as Derry-stroke-Londonderry and the name stuck. So which name is correct?

Well, the first people to live there called it Doire Calgach (Which is Irish Gaelic for "the oak grove of Calgach"). It later became Doire Comcille after St. Columb established a monastry there in the sixth century. (The Anglican cathedral in the city is still called St. Columb's). Then after the arrival of settlers from the British mainland the name became corrupted to Derry.

After several years of investment from the Guilds of London, the village had grown into a large town with a set of sturdy walls (which remain to this day). The main civic building there is still the Guildhall. So in 1613, the town was granted a royal charter, making it officially a city, and to mark the role of the London in its construction, a new name was chosen: Londonderry.

(Another cute/quaint name for the city is "The Maiden City"- because her walls have never been breached, despite a lenghty seige in the 17th Century).

Nowadays, the population are in the main Irish nationalists or republicans, which broadly speaking means that they want very little to do with London. So of late, the old name Derry, (Which never really went away), has made a comeback. The city council is officially called "Derry City Council", the airport is "Derry City Airport", and the Association Football team is Derry City Football Club.

However there is no way to revoke or alter the terms of a royal charter, so the name of the city remains Londonderry. This is the name that appears on maps and signposts (sometimes abbreviated to "L'derry"). Although most people who live there call it Derry. Most Unionists and Loyalists call it Londonderry first during any discussion, and often Derry thereafter, using the shorter version like a pronoun!

One exception to the general rule are the unionist Apprentice Boys of Derry, one of the Marching Orders. They have not changed the name of their organisation to include the "London" prefix, even though they use it in all their literature.

"Who cares where national borders lie?
Who cares whose laws you're governed by?
Who cares what name you call a town?
Who'll care when you're six feet beneath the ground?"


A side issue is the term "County Derry", used to describe the county in which the city lies. There is no historical justification for this at all. Before the town Derry became a city known as Londonderry, the most important town in the county was Coleraine, and the county was acordingly known as County Coleraine.

The quoted lines are from Sunrise by The Divine Comedy

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