Derry’s Walls Belong to Everyone
In August 1613, two representatives from the City of London, George Smithes, Alderman, and Mathias Springham, Merchant Taylor, along with ten experienced local officers, “viewed and trode out the ground at the Derry for the fortification there”. That simple act, four centuries ago, has left us a tremendous physical legacy in the form of the largest ancient monument in Northern Ireland; it also left an enduring imprint on the cultural identities of the people of Ireland and Britain.
During National Heritage Week, Walled Towns across Ireland explored the heritage of their ramparts, gates and towers. Sunday 25th August was “ Derry’s Walls Day 2013”. An interdenominational service in St Columb’s Cathedral was an appropriate start to the day. This was followed by Wave on the Walls! and a 1613 Charter Market at the Ship Key. To recreate the marking out of the walls by the two Londoners and the 10 ten local officers four centuries ago, 1,950 joined with us in creating a continuous red line of volunteers wearing specially designed t-shirts along the top of the ramparts. The mile-long Mexican Wave was photographed from the air and all participants will receive a souvenir certificate. While the event was free, everyone was encouraged to make a voluntary donation to Foyle Hospice, a local charity. 400 years on, we wanted the most diverse group of people make a BIG statement that Derry’s Walls belong to EVERYONE.
Making History by Recreating History
Mark Lusby, Coordinator of the City Walls Heritage Project, explained: “400 years on from the first stepping out of the ground on which Derry’s Walls were to be built, people from all parts of the City and beyond helped us to mark out the pattern of the City Walls once again. The Walls can become invisible in a busy townscape but the line of volunteers, wearing their red t-shirts, clearly marked out the structure of Walls in the photographs and film footage, taken from the helicopter. The film and photographs will be great educational tools in our future work, celebrating the local and national heritage value of Northern Ireland’s largest ancient monument and Ireland’s most intact circuit of the town walls.”
Volunteers taking part Wave on the Walls also helped to raise funds for local charity, Foyle Hospice and Rachel Bruce, Community Fundraiser, reported: “We still have some small amounts to include, but the final total of voluntary donations will be around £3,800. In addition, Derry Print Workshop raised just over £200 from sale of prints, produced on the day at the 1613 Charter Market.”
Wave on the Walls was part of Derry Walls Day 2013 and its success was ensured by the broad partnership of public, private and community organisations involved in the event. Eamonn Deane, Director, Holywell Trust remarked: “Wave on the Walls was very much an experiment. It was not until the event was actually happening that we knew precisely how many people were needed to create a continuous line of people around the Walls. I want to pay tribute to the generosity of spirit demonstrated by the 1,950 people volunteering to take part in the Wave on the Walls and by the donations made to Foyle Hospice. Thanks also to Volunteering North West who provided essential helpers in the run-up to Derry Walls Day 2013 and at the event itself. ”
Work has commenced on getting a specially designed souvenir Walls400 certificate to everyone who took part. As only 1,500 t-shirts had been ordered for Wave on the Walls, extra ones are being ordered for anyone who had registered and who was disappointed on the day.
Documenting Derry Walls Day 2013
Foyle Camera Club were involved in a project to document the day and their photographs can be viewed below. The Nerve Centre and Rory McSwiggan provided the camerawork from the helicopter and their creativity can also be viewed below.
A Big Thank You from Holywell Trust and its Partners
A big thank you to everyone who turned up for this history-making event, which you will see from the pictures and video was part-art, part-performance, part peace-building and mostly madness. Thanks to University of Ulster interns Sarah and Janeen and Business in the Community GAP placement David and Stephen Kelly of Velocity and Tom Casey of Trufflepig for core support in making this event happen. Thanks also to Volunteering North West who provided essential helpers in the run-up to Derry Walls Day 2013 and at the event itself. Thanks to the Playhouse, Past Pleasures, Claiomh, Period Arms, Forthill Farm and Derry Print Workshop for creating the 1613 Charter Market. Thanks to St Columb’s Cathedral for hosting the inter-denominational service which kicked Derry Walls Day off. Thanks to Foyle Camera Club and other volunteer photographers who helped document the day and to Derry City Council, the Apprentice Boys of Derry and St Columb’s Cathedral for allowing access to their buildings during the day. Thanks to DRD Roads Service and DOE NIEA for permissions to use Guildhall Sq and Derry’s Walls for Derry Walls Day. Thanks to Reina Chano M.S. Candidate, Historic Preservation, at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Design who helped with the design of this website and the social media feeds for the event.
Gallery by Rory O’Doherty Photography.
Some sample photos taken by Rory O’Doherty from the helicopter are shown below. These are available for purchase online, with a portion of proceeds going towards charity. Click on the pictures to enlarge.