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Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Evolution of a Name

By Sarah Sinese

The dispute over the title of Northern Ireland's second largest city is reflective of both its rich history and political influence. The early Irish name for the city was Daire, translating to oak grove, reminiscent of the beautiful lands covered by oak trees. Later it was anglicized to Derry. In the 1600s, when the Plantation of Ulster was established by English and Scottish settlers, the walls were built and it was renamed to Londonderry as various British guilds seized lands to develop and manage (a process we identify with as colonialism). Under the Royal Charters of 1613 and 1662, as issued by King James I, the name was solidified. Of course, the natives were not happy to have their land taken by their English neighbors and the name Londonderry was often seen as an insult of their lack of control. Therefore, they often still refer to the city as Derry. Signs throughout the city still reflect these distinct preferences based on geographic region and are often vandalized by both parties.

In an effort to remedy the dispute, the compromised naming of Derry/Londonderry has led to the humorous nickname "Stroke City." Alternative names often utilized include "Rive Foyle" and "Walled City," among many others. Our passionate tour guide, Garvin, cleverly coined the city "Legendary," illustrating how he and some of his neighbors in the city who are advocates of peace are moving past semantics and instead concentrating on all their beautiful city has to offer.
This sign is reflective of the 3% of residents within The Walls who identify as Loyalists, thus referring to the city as Londonderry.

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