History of Derry before Partition
There used to be an oak grove on an islet in the middle of the river Foyle which was sacred to the Celts . Over time the river channel dried out giving rise to the modern day area: the Bogside. In the sixth century, St. Colmcille is thought to have founded a monastery here.
The Vikings were the first tourists in the area but the monastery at Derry survived. In the 12th and 13th century, under the MacLochlainn family, Derry prospered. The following centuries were ones of decline for the town.
The power of the O'Donnells of Donegal held sway here.
Derry was catapulted back into historical significance when Queen of England, Elizabeth I captured it during the war with the Hugh O'Neill. In 1603 it was granted city status by Elizabeth but was captured in turn by O'Doherty.
Following the flight of the Earls from Ireland, the King of England and Scotland James I, set about the plantation of Ulster with loyal Protestant folk. Tradesmen from London belonging to various guilds came to Derry. In their honour the city was renamed Londonderry. City Walls and earthen ramparts were erected to protect against the Gaelic Chieftains. Any non-Protestant people were not allowed to reside inside the city walls but instead in the boggy terrain just outside. Present day demographics reflect this devide.
A Cathedral was built in 1633.
During the English civil war, Derry sided
with Cromwell's republican parliment and was besieged by Royalist forces. At this time the citizens of Derry numbered some 2000.
Derry was besieged again when the deposed Catholic King James II attacked the Protestant people within. The Apprentice Boys are alleged to have closed the city gates on the forces of King James. Both the besiegers and the besieged suffered terribly over the following 105 days. Then a ship sent by the newly crowned Protestant King William II broke through the port barricade and relieved the Protestants within. This, together with the Battle of the Boyne, were decisive victories for the Protestant Planters of Ulster.
Every year the Apprentice Boys march along the walls of the city in celebration of their role in the siege of Derry. This event is often seen as a provocative taunt to the Catholics of the Bogside.
The philosopher George Berkeley was Dean of Derry. During the industrial revolution, Derry was known for the production of linen (shirts and collars specifically).
Following the devision of Ireland into the Irish Free State and the six counties of Northern Ireland, Derry was included with the latter despite having a majority of Catholics with no love of Unionist hegemony.