Based in the city of Londonderry and owned by local man Martin McCrossan, these award winning tours have gone from strength to strength in recent years.
When I first heard back in 2012 that our city had been awarded City of Culture 2013, I was sceptical to say the least. A town that has been plagued by the troubles for far too many years. A town that whilst growing up young people had to lie about what school they went to depending on what side of the water they were on. A town that has let religious beliefs destroy and rule their lives.
When my sister, determined to prove me wrong suggested we take a guided walking tour of the city I reluctantly agreed and went along. After all…how could I turn down something that Will Ferrell, Susan Boyle and Martin Luther King were tripping over themselves to do. Having done walking guided tours in some of Europes most beautiful and famous cities I was intrigued to give it a go.
St Augustine’s Church. Known as the ‘Wee Church on the Walls’
Doire, Derry, Londonderry and the Maiden City are just some of the names given to it and it has 1500 years of history and culture with over 50 natural and built attractions. As Irelands only remaining walled city, L/derry was a plantation town and then in later years was the centre point of immigration to America, Australia and all over the UK.
View from Ferryquay Gate entrance.
After meeting our guide at Foyleside Shopping Centre we set off through Ferryquay Gate to the City Walls. We were taken with ease through the walls and past the famous St Columbs Cathedral which has stood within the walls since 1633. After recent renovation work this beautiful building now dominates our skyline. I learned facts that I had never knew before and heard stories that have yet to be told in schools or to the locals.
St Colombs Cathedral
Moving on around the walls we were faced with ‘The Peoples Gallery’ or ‘the murals’ to us local folk like to call it, followed by a brief history of Bloody Sunday and The Apprentice Boys whilst passing the Memorial Hall. Ending up at our starting point less than an hour later we passed Austin’s Department store… now Irelands oldest store, built in 1830.
One of the original canons.
A ‘Seige of Derry’ watch tower.
To top it all off we were offered free refreshments at a local cafe as part of our tour and the ticket will also grand you free entrance to the Cathedral.
There is no doubt in my mind that Martin McCrossan and his team at City Tours have a very reputable and professional business. The tour was accurate, perfectly paced and enjoyable within a good time scale.
Sorcha our guide for the tour was very knowledgeable and professional and answered all our questions with ease and understanding. My only negative is that it was a bit too scripted but she was brilliant none the less. At £4 a pop, running everyday at 10am, 12 noon and 2pm, I would highly recommend that you do this at least once.
Has it changed my opinion of L/Derry!? I can’t quite decide yet but Martin and his team definitely made me appreciate the beauty of it.