This will be the last of Thursday Doors from Derry for a while and as it has a seaport with a long history, I thought it would be nice to give you a brief glimpse into its interesting past. But first let me show you a portal of a different sort – the door of a double-decker bus. Sorry for such bad light, this photo was shot on my night stroll through the city.
Pyke ’N’ Pommes eatery started out as an adapted street food van in a disused car park, before moving to a semi-permanent pitch by the river Foyle in Derry in 2013. Their food is amazing and if you ever find yourself in the area, you really should give them a try. Since my last visit they’ve acquired this bus as an indoor diner but if it’s raining and there are no seats left on the bus, the covered eating area is still there, so you won’t get wet, or you can get a take-away.
Now for some history. Vikings used the river Foyle to access inland Ireland, whereas the Normans established a stronghold that controlled Derry. With such a fabulous natural port, who could blame them. In 1664, King Charles the second gave responsibility of the port to Londonderry Corporation. Over the next two centuries shipping increased massively due to exports of good, especially linen, and to emigration. As time went by, more and more quays were built and tramways laid to link up with railways connecting the city to the rest of Ireland. Eventually a shipyard was established. Remember that photo I posted a couple of weeks ago of the WW2 battleships?
During WW2 the city’s port became the most important escort base in the United Kingdom due to it’s westerly position. This was where the warships guarding the Atlantic convoys were repaired and maintained. 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the surrender of WW2 German U-boats in Derry. This link will give you an eye witness account, including some old film footage; Surrender
Emigration has always played a big part in Derry’s history, as it has in the rest of Ireland. To commemorate this there are some very touching sculptures along the riverside walk, by artist Eamonn O’Doherty. Here they are in a slideshow, looking even more poignant. They portray a family about to emigrate, with the father looking out to sea and to the future but the mother and children looking back at an elderly couple. How awful it must have been in those days before air travel and cheaper international transport, when saying goodbye on a quay may have been the last you might see of your family.
The woman lying across the bench with her hand reaching out to the sea, got to me, too.
I hope you enjoyed this latest visit to Derry City, no doubt there will be plenty more to come. If you would like to see a super collection of Thursday Doors, head on over to Norm’s blog.