Forced abolition of the ‘City of Londonderry’?

Beano notes the Nationalist Derry City Council is going to High Court to enforce the abolition of the old name of the city, Londonderry, in advance of their own abolition in favour of a larger council. Such ‘revisionism’ he argues indicates “that victory, rather than equality, is the agenda for Sinn Fein”, with the SDLP happy to follow in behind. El Blogador says it’s all a matter of history.

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  • IJP

    Beano

    It was renamed in 1613.

    I refer to ‘Derry’ for the same reason I refer to ‘Carrick’, it’s quicker.

    I would also be more than happy for the city to be renamed, ‘Londonderry’ is an awful mouthful.

    But it must be done by consensus.

    qubol

    Therefore not at all like the time you mention – that vote was unanimous (DUP, UUs, Alliance, Green, Independent), not a single voice raised in opposition, and you don’t get more consensual than that.

  • kensei

    “There is no generosity shown by SF to the unionist population of this town. The name change is nationalist triumphalism, “we are in charge now so like it or lump it” is the message. ”

    So, by that logic, things must stay as they are because otherwise it is Nationalist triumphalism. It doesn’t work. Have any Unionist put forward a compromise or just squealed about it? They may thne have a point.

  • DK

    Wasn’t it renamed Londonderry in gratitude to the corporations of London who invested in it or something?

    Maybe there should be a search for a new sponsor.

    Kappaderry maybe?

  • fartrick

    velcroderry would be apt as every cnut in the place is trying to rip you off….

  • loyalist

    the obvious solution is to partition the city and rename the east bank Londonderry.

  • Declan Walsh

    Aw come on guys.

    Yes, unionists don’t powershare. we’ve been over this. It’s not right, but the SDLP need to stick to their principles.
    If it wasn’t right to rename the city the first time, why is it ok now?
    Yes, yes I know there is a nationalist majority, but what happened to concensus politics? To being aware of symbols? To respecting each others cultures.

    It should be called Derry (or Doire) yes.
    But should it be changed now? No.

  • yerman

    qubol
    “keeping the status quo actually costs time and money. Better to change it back to Derry for everyday and official use – this may help save money in the long run.”

    How much time and money exactly? How much money would it cost to carry out all of the renaming? How much would it cost to maintain that new name?

    The money argument is a red herring. As is the tourism argument. There is no tourist who is put off coming to Derry or Londonderry because of the name. The spides roaming the streets who’ll stab you as quick as look at you after dark, the litter on the streets, the lack of anything decent to do and the rubbish weather all probably have a little more to do with the lack of tourists.

    If Derry City Council weren’t chasing spurious legal challenges all courtesy of the ratepayer then maybe they could put a little of the money into proper tourism initiatives which might actually do something to turn the situation around. However, in true ‘derry’ steriotype they prefer to whinge about it for a while and blame the Brits.

  • Many cities are referred to by more than one name- Cluj-Napoca (Romanian) Koloszvar (Hungarian) Klausenburg (German).
    So why not have two names- Doire cholm chille (Irish) Londonderry (English)?

  • smcgiff

    I really don’t understand this – Well, I do, if you know what I mean.

    If the good citizens of Lisburn want to rename their city Godqueenandlisburn then so be it. It’s not as if everything in Northern Ireland is run by consensus. If there were there would be Joint Authority ( forbid).

    Derry should be officially known as Derry if that is what its ratepayers desire.

    As for those that cry this is an example of how unionists will be treated in a 32 county Republic – Well, they were hardly ever going to be persuaded to don the shamrock and kick up their heels in an Irish jig anyway.

  • Bollix

    My practical experience of hitching to donegal is to be careful what name you put on your sign.

    As i stood at the grovenor road roundabout with “derry” on my placard and my thumb out, i did get one car which slowed down and whose occupants shouted out – “we’re going to LONDONderry, ye FENIAN BASTARD!”

    Why can’t we all be a bit more mature and get over it. Call the city one thing and the county the other (for official purposes) and call it whatever you want in private.
    It is worthless to reduce these matters to a zero sum game. All it does is provide for a bit of macho chest beating and sabre rattling.

    “Oh noes! the cafflicks / prods are stealing my city! All your base are belong to us!”

  • yerman

    Bollix
    Why didn’t you just put “Donegal” on your placard then?

  • Dr Strangelove

    The reality:

    “Personally i always have and always will (regardless of name change) call it londonderry, but i think unionists shouldnt worry, this is symptomatic of the death throes of failed nationalist politics in N ireland. Sinn Fein are FIGHTING to get into a partitionist government, but then sure, most of them are british agents anyway. The IRA have surrendered and the south have surrendered up their claim to NI. the Union is safer than ever thanks to the big man. Finally after the donaldson revelations of being a british agent, has any nationalist wondered that the next X they put on the ballot paper might be for another british agent ? lol”

    Is this the new confident Unionism the DUP has been promising ?

  • “It was renamed in 1613.”

    My bad. Can’t think where I got the 1700s from :-/

  • Dr Stangelove

    Well if the name of the city was to be offically changed to what the majority of the residents wanted, it would not be Derry. That name has always been a misnomer. The actual name is I believe, an inflection, Derryhey.

  • scotick7

    Why not just give full official/legal status to an Irish form of the name? Say Doire, or Doire Cholmcille (which incidentally might foreground the historic links between Ireland and Scotland in an inclusive way)
    That way it could be both Londonderry and Doire Cholmcille…or would this just be called having it both ways…:)

  • páid

    as others have commented derry/londonderry is a touchstone argument.
    I remember visting the museum and being struck by the fact that the walled town was largely built by londoners; colonists quite separate from the native irish. One could see merit in the walled town being referred to as londonderry. Derry is an anglicization of Doire, an oak-wood. Irish nationalists campaigning hard for Derry should bear this in mind. The real damage to Irish identity is done by the conversion of Doire to Derry, not by the London prefix.

  • smcgiff

    As you say, Pid the people of Derry don’t mind the name being of Anglo origin. It’s just embarrassingly silly to have another city’s name tagged on to it.

  • yerman

    scmcgiff
    “the people of Derry don’t mind the name being of Anglo origin. It’s just embarrassingly silly to have another city’s name tagged on to it.”

    Yeah, cos we all know that the Shinners and SDLP would still be campaigning to have the name changed if it was called Dublinderry!

  • David Michael

    Pid

    The real damage to Irish identity is done by the conversion of Doire to Derry, not by the London prefix.

    Yes and pity the poor folks of Ui Failge who found themselves living in “Offaly.”

    My lands, that would be the equivalent of Derry being called “Shitty.” Hmm, Shitty City? During the troubles: Shitty City Bang Bang?

    I’ll stop now….

    BTW Wtf didn’t the burghers of Offaly change it right back in 1922? Or to something a little more fragrant. No accounting for taste.

  • Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to Ulster

    yerman

    “Bollix
    Why didn’t you just put “Donegal” on your placard then?”

    Think of the distance between, say, Buncrana and Ballyshannon.

    If Bolix had been heading to somewhere like Buncrana the intelligent thing to do would be to make a sign for London/Derry.

    If he had been heading to Ballyshannon the smart thing to do would be to make a sign saying Enniskillen.

    As a sign “Donegal” would have limited value for hitch-hiking purposes. And this is where the whole debate gets relevant to hitchhikers.

    Renaming the city “Derry” and retaining the County name “Londonderry” would facilitate hitch-hikers to make signs displaying where they actually want to.

    I would further urge that the same be considered for Donegal. The the county should be renamed County Londondonegal. So if you had a sign saying “Donegal” it would be clear that you were heading for the town.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Derry should be officially known as Derry if that is what its ratepayers desire.”

    But only two people in Londonderry pay rates-Sid and Doris Bonkers of Limavady Road

  • Shuggie McSporran

    They could rename the city “Dingle” as this is a name that has recently become available.

  • yerman

    Hitch-hiker.
    Its got laughable when ease for hitch-hikers is a material consideration in these matters.

    If someone wants to go to a particular part of Donegal then they should put Buncrana, Ballyshannon or wherever their destination is on their placard.

    “If Bolix had been heading to somewhere like Buncrana the intelligent thing to do would be to make a sign for London/Derry.”

    Nope – when heading for Buncrana – put BUNCRANA on the placard

    “If he had been heading to Ballyshannon the smart thing to do would be to make a sign saying Enniskillen.”

    If heading to Ballyshannon the average person of reasonable intelligence will put BALLYSHANNON on the placard……

    I know that’s a novel theory, but it might just catch on!

    Are you suggesting that someone going to Dublin would put Newry on their sign?

    I very much doubt that any hitch-hiker wants to go to some vague destination in Co Londonderry. If someone wants to go to Derry/Londonderry city then they put that there, otherwise they put Coleraine, Garvagh or wherever on their placard.

  • Páid

    DM,

    I don’t get the ‘shitty’ reference. Please explain.

    Also what does ‘my lands’ mean in this context?

  • David Michael

    Pid

    I don’t get the ‘shitty’ reference. Please explain.

    Offal = waste = shit

    Also what does ‘my lands’ mean in this context?

    Old American slang, the equivalent of My Christ, handy for unbelievers like myself 🙂

    I realize now that it was unfortunate within the context of a “land” question. Sorry.

  • Páid

    Thanks DM. It is interesting that many Irish placenames were translated into something meaningless e.g. Derry, Donegal, Galway, or something with a completely unrelated meaning e.g. Cork, Kill, Blacklion etc. Welsh names did not, curiously, suffer the same fate by and large. No-one asks for the English version of Llandudno or Aberystwyth. Offaly is an anglicization of Uibh Fháilí meaning Fáilghe’s People, a Leinster sept methinks. Offaly was previously known as King’s County under British rule. Maybe the locals decided that was change enough! In their song ‘The Offaly Rover’ GAA supporters do sing about Uibh Fháilí, and how they miss it’s heather-scented air, but I suspect this is more to do with rhyming reasons rather than pro – Gaelicism. Perhaps protestants sing about the walls of ‘derry’ for the same reasons.

  • Hitch-Hikers guide to Buncrana

    Yerman

    You obviously have no appreciation of hitch-hiking theory or practise, I’m sorry to say.

    I would advise you not to hitch-hike because your expectations are totally unrealistic.

    I’ll give you an extreme example to illustrate my point.

    If you were hitchhiking from, say, Cork to Castlerock. You wouldn’t stand in Cork with a sign saying “Castlerock” That’s bad hitch-hiking practise.

    Depending on how you progressed you would probably have to make at least three signs, including one for Dublin, one for Belfast and one for Coleraine.

    The chances of getting one lift from Cork to Castlerock are unlikely to say the least. So you go for what’s likely.

    You would be mad to set off with one sign saying Castlerock. In fact there is absolutely no good reason why you would make a sign for Castlerock at all, although that’s your destination. You simply wouldn’t need it if you approach the journey logically.

  • Why don’t you just stick your thumb out?

  • DK

    Does this mean that the villiage of Londonderry in North Yorkshire, or any of the others, will also have to change it’s name? Wonder how they got their name?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londonderry_(disambiguation)

  • DK

    you need to include the closing bracket ) in the url for it to work.

  • David Michael

    Pid

    Offaly was previously known as King’s County under British rule.

    You are shitting me! (I’ll have to stop this.) The Irish actually chose Offaly themselves??!!

    What was wrong with Fill’s County or suchlike? Baffling.

    Thanks for the info. Interesting stuff!

  • Following DK’s link, did anyone else spot that in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, there are two towns, one called Derry, and one called Londonderry. The sherriff of Rockingham County is one J Daniel Lenihan (see http://www.rockso.org/), which may explain why 10,000 more people choose to live in Derry than Londonderry (see pop stats at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockingham_County%2C_New_Hampshire).

    On the wanted page of the sherriff’s office for Rockingham County (again http://www.rockso.org) is one Jon Savarino Schillaci. I am reliably informed by sources who cannot be named for legal reasons that this is one and the same ‘Toto’ Schillachi, the man responsible for knocking the 26-county free state football team out of the 1990 world cup in his native Italy. I am open to correction on this last point.

    The Londonderry Times and the Derry News compete for readership in both towns. The most recent edition of the Londonderry Times features an article entitled ‘New Focus on Master Plan Task Forces'(http://users.adelphia.net/~londonderrytimes/featuredlt.html), covering do doubt a ‘master plan’ to occupy what they call ‘Free’ Derry, colonising the place and changing its name. The Derry News (http://www.derrynews.com/) for its part leads with two stories, one glorifying the achievements of its student population (‘Students Take Top Honours at Challenge’) and a thinly veiled insult to its near neighbours (‘Rabid Skunk in Londonderry’).

    You cannot make this stuff up.

  • páid

    Anthony B, fascinating post!

    I am reliably informed by sources who cannot be named for legal reasons that this is one and the same ‘Toto’ Schillachi, the man responsible for knocking the 26-county free state football team out of the 1990 world cup in his native Italy. I am open to correction on this last point.

    I hold Packie Bonner 35% responsible.

  • Saigon is now called Ho Chi Minh City(part of it is still known as Sai Gon).
    Maybe Derry could be completely renamed.

  • Harry Flashman

    Manfarang

    I suggest that within our lifetimes and probably a lot sooner than we think it will be Saigon again.

    Just ask the peoples of Saint Petersburg and Volgograd, these changes often happen very quickly when you’re dealing with marxist thugocracies.

    I look forward to it.

  • Now it’s all Doi Moi(free market reforms).
    Uncle Ho isn’t revolving in his grave.In fact he isn’t in a grave but preserved in a mausoleum.
    He was much more of a nationalist than Marxist.
    Not many signs of regime change.There were some stikes recently.

  • Strikes (in the garment industries)

  • abucs

    I found that the people of Ho Chi Min City were more comfortable calling the place Saigon anyway.

    More than one told me that while the North Vietnamese won the war the South Vietnamese won the arguement (capitalism).

    Last time i was there was during the current Iraq invasion and it was weird attending the museums demonizing the American involvement and then seeing the Viet Cong army outside protecting the American embassy. :o) (and British, the French they didn’t bother with)

    I think Stephen’s suggestion of Londonderry for the name of the walled city has some merit too.

  • David Michael

    I meant to come back to this: Hitch-hiking.

    The standard of hitch-hiking in NI is about the worst I’ve seen anywhere, and in my younger days I hitched around the world – though not all at once 🙂

    When I first came to NI I didn’t even know that some lads WERE hitch-hiking, Why? Because they stood at the side of the street/road wearing a dour expression, and holding their thumb down by their side.

    Sheesh! This is the worst I’ve seen – anywhere. Let me tell you how it should be done.

    First, I know you may be an Ulsterman but your customary dourness will not help you get a ride! And you got to make the effort and hold out that thumb. I know it’s a bother, but this is how it’s done in most of the known world. So, agan:

    1. Smile
    2. Stick out yer thumb

    That’s how you get to L’Derry, or anywhere else.

  • IJP

    smcgiff

    Consensus must be the norm.

    If the Protestant residents of Lisburn broadly wanted to change the name to Queenslisburn it would be totally unreasonable of them to do so if Catholic residents broadly didn’t. If Manchester-United-supporting residents wanted to rename it Rooneyburn it would be totally unreasonable if Liverpool-supporting residents didn’t. And so on.

    We live in a fundamentally divided society and we are going to have to learn how to live together. We can’t do that if we just lord it over whichever side is in the minority.

    An important additional aspect of this which is often overlooked is that consensus dictates that we need cross-community outcomes not just cross-community inputs. Cross-community inputs often mean lazy tokenism which simply leave us agreeing to differ while others are in the room, and not agreeing to differ while surrounded by ‘our own’ – as with Derry/Londonderry…

  • IJP

    Agreed. I think Stephen Copeland’s proposal of the walled city being kept as Londonderry and the rest of the city resuming to Derry/Doire has high merits and shows compromise.

    It is slightly disingenuous to offer the examples of name changing above. Derry/Londonderry is different in that it already has been renamed and any change is simply a reversal of this change which as we know has highly charged political connotations.

    If people were arguing for name reversal on the other side of a UI it probably wouldn’t get as total support on nationalist side as it does now…because the colonial baggage would have been dealt with.

    Yerman suggests that Derry people wouldn’t be seeking name reversal if it had been renamed Dublinderry but that cuts both ways, i’m sure unionists would back any such proposal to drop the Dublin part.

    Can we have a vote on SC’s proposal to let the walled city be kept as Londonderry, which keeps the British identity intact and respected and the rest of the city reversing to Derry/Doire to respect the Irish identity?

    I vote for the proposal.

  • kensei

    “An important additional aspect of this which is often overlooked is that consensus dictates that we need cross-community outcomes not just cross-community inputs. Cross-community inputs often mean lazy tokenism which simply leave us agreeing to differ while others are in the room, and not agreeing to differ while surrounded by ‘our own’ – as with Derry/Londonderry… ”

    Where is the cross community outcome in this? It is a binary decision. The current arrangement is certainly not a compromise, being as it is totally favourable to Unionism. The bottom line is – working towards community consensus, but where there is none it’s majority decision. Which is why there is rule from Westminister and not JA.

    The only sensible suggestion on any sort of compromise has come from a Nationalist. In order to get cross community outcome, you need cross community input. It is a prerequisite. I have yet to hear a Unionist make any sort of sensible suggestion for a compromise, rather than squealing about the decision. If you take this approach then do not be surprised when the outcome is not one you want. And that goes for both sides on a whole range of things.

    Again, a lot of rhetoric, IJP, not much in the way of practical proposals.

  • Richard

    Having been born and brought up in Londonderry I find all these posts very interesting to read.

    Personally, why not just have TWO official names in English – Londonderry and Derry. Of course, there could also be Irish and Ulster-Scots equivalents, should people so wish.

    Looking across to continental Europe, many areas with more than one ethnic or linguisitc group or community identity have different official names, all on an equal footing.

    Just by getting a court to call somewhere something will not stop people from using the name they prefer. To me, Londonderry is Londonderry and always will be. Equally, to many it is Derry and always will be.

    So, two, equal, official names may be the best ‘solution’ to this one…

  • kensei

    “Just by getting a court to call somewhere something will not stop people from using the name they prefer. To me, Londonderry is Londonderry and always will be. Equally, to many it is Derry and always will be.

    So, two, equal, official names may be the best ‘solution’ to this one… ”

    Hmmm. Are there any cases of 2 offical names in the same langauge? It would also duplicate paperwork, but I suppose that is in place now.

  • Richard

    ‘Are there any cases of 2 offical names in the same langauge?’
    I do not know of any where there are 2 in the same language. However, plenty of places have two names in different languages and using that as a basis seems a good enough idea to having 2 names in the same language as the other name in this case is unpalatable to the other community.
    Tongue-in-cheek suggestion, how about ‘derry? (Emphasis on the apostrophe and lower case letter “d”!??!!!!!

  • DK

    What about “Continuity Londonderry”?

  • How about…

    ‘Still under siege from the London prefix Derry’

  • George

    Any unionist out there who could answer under what circumstances they would accept a name change to Derry?

    I hear talk of consensus but nobody seems to be able to say what is needed to convince. Will it only come about with regime change like Leningrad to St. Petersburg or Zeitgeist with Stalingrad to Volgograd?

    Tim,
    “Does anyone still use “Danzig” for Gdańsk in a present day context?”

    The whole of the German speaking world which I suppose you could estimate at close to 100 million people.

  • Okay they may call it that in Germany (like the Irish for Stroke City isn’t “Derry” but “Doire”) but what about the non-German speakers? What’s the standard English usage? (Note I mean the present day.)

    How about just renaming the city and district “Foyle”?

  • Conor Gillespie

    Crataegus

    “Revisionist history, expunge the bits you don’t particularly like. This is petty and a waste of good money.”

    I see a budget of 15 pounds tops spent on the white wash.

    Anyway, its only “revisionist history” while its new. After that, it IS history. If you need an example just take a look at Saint Petersburg/Petrograd/Leningrad/Now We’re Back To Saint Petersburg. In fact, the restoration of the name Saint Petersburg to the city of Leningrad was only given the go-ahead by a majority of only 54%. I bet that you’d get much cleaner results than that for Derry. If the majority of citizens want the name changed, I don’t think that there’s very much left to be said.

    I mean, I don’t think anybody even asked the Derrymen for their opinion back in 1613. And anyway, just because the “official name” gets changed doesn’t mean that Unionists can’t continue to call it by their own name like the rest of us have been doing for so long. Its actually kind of fun when you get used to it. You guys could even set up ramshackle old crap piles with signs like “Yee ‘er now enterin’ free Londonderry” or something. I’m sure auld Lord Laird would be more than willing to give you his assistance. Anyway, you should consider yourselves lucky. When I was visiting my yankee cousins in California this summer, one of them showed me a newspaper clipping about some US town that just voted to change its name to Camelot! I’d take Derry any day of the week!