A legendary victory – City of Culture 2013 – Derry~Londonderry

As the voxpops in the bid video say:

I am Derry. I am Londonderry. I am legendary.

Hundreds and thousands of words will be written in posts and comments about the winning City of Culture 2013. For me it’s a remarkable win. The most westerly city in the UK won a national competition. It’s not just out of London, or outside the M25, or over the Pennines … it’s over the water too.

The whole bid process seems to have given Derry a real confidence boost.

For a city council that regularly debates what the city should be called, never mind the debate about which principality any individual would like it to reside in, it was remarkable that a bid containing both names “Derry~Londonderry” should be made to a UK (rather than European) competition. In terms of capacity building, it’s a major leap forward. And a major achievement for the talented bid team who no doubt overcame many obstacles in their way.

Now seems to be the time for NI’s second city to stand up proud and show us all what it’s made of. There are a few years leading up to 2013 for the citizens of Derry to enter into dialogue with each other – and to allow the rest of us to listen in – about how to find ways of celebrating the many cultures (a lot more than just two) that can be found in the north west.

Time too for Belfast to pay attention, and get ready to make the journey up over the Glenshane Pass to take part in the events that will be organised. It’s not that far!

In the context of unwelcome parades, community mistrust and tension that spills over into this week’s violence and mayhem in Belfast and beyond, lessons of mutual understanding, dialogue and gracious accommodation may been to gently spread down from the north west to reach those parts of NI that are harder to reach. More on that another time.

  • I just want to add how real the competition was.

    Birmingham: Strong, vibrant growing with a rich history and youth! multicultural to the nth degree.

    Sheffield: Renewed and reinvigorated, yet maintaining the strength of the north with all its diversity.

    Norwich: representing East Anglia, possibly the most underrated and yet the most significant of the opposition. More churches than anywhere else in England, more history including Bodacea (check spelling) the first womens libber!

    Derry had serious opposition and Derry won.

    My congratulations to all concerned.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “I am Derry. I am Londonderry. I am legendary.”

    A load of auld whimsical pseudo ‘celtic’ bollix.

    So I guess we may as call it ‘Londonderry’ from now on as being ‘UK City of Culture’ confirms it’s status as a ‘British’ city. Derry means fuck all.

    Well done to all the Britsh folk involved with such a great achievement … OBE’s and MBE’s all round.

  • foyle observer

    Get a grip of yourself.

    The only person politicising this bid and no doubt the ‘UK’ part now that we’ve won, will be Gregory Campbell.

    If you want to look like that person, feel free. It was him i thought of straight away when i read your post.

  • Greagoir O Frainlin: You are beginning to irritate me.

    You offer nothing, you have as far as I have seen done nothing but complain about the actions taken by others.

    Derry has won, in spite of genuine and strong opposition.

    In the great scheme of things a year here or there means almost nothing, but in the real world with the possibility of jobs and the feel good factor to be considered, it is a prize worth winning.

    If you have anything better to offer, feel free.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    oh yes…But I find the hypocrisy of NI folks ideology so muddled and rather astounding.

  • Oh yes….But Im from the south and I welcome anything that brings hope and prosperity to our island, perhaps others do too.

    A UK title is hardly new. It is the way things are, title or not. For goodness sake, catch a hold of yourself. The UK title is an established and undeniable fact! and so what. It means nothing. The title, and I would bet cash on this, will not be too visible anywhere, what will be is a lot of free PR. Free advertising, and potential customers.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Oh but I never deny the Britishness of folk from NI and I never deny Londonderry (or what folk wanna call it) being part of the UK….. as is NI itself. The Government of Ireland Act initially established that fact.
    But it’s the ideology of NI folk that I find inconsistant and incongruous….which led to the Trouble I suppose and which led to the recent rioting in the Ardoyne.

  • Garza

    Here’s a clue greagoir, the people of NI are not as idealistic as republicans or loyalists, its a country of pragmatists, it always has been. As long as life is good, this award is bringing in jobs, no-one gives a s**t.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    The people of NI are pragmatists? Really?

    So how do you explain a tribal society comprised of loyalists or republicans etc.., the the last 30 odd years of the Troubles, the discrimination of a Unionist state prior to that, the wanton destruction and vandalism of rioting juveniles in the Ardoyne a few days ago.

    Rather clueless morelike!

  • Andrew M

    Your question actually contains the answer.

  • old school

    “U.K City of Culture”
    Only Alan Partidge types would get animated about that.
    Yes, we beat Sheffield and Norwich. A small price to further the normalisation of Derry into the British mould.
    A totally political decision. Feck all to do with culture.
    A transparent, shallow gimmick probably conjured up by Mandelson or Powell to bolster J118 and pacify the plebs just before they were ousted.

  • Kathy C

    Ironic isn’t….Sinn Fein and martin mcguiness got elected to work towards a united Ireland…yet here we have mcguiness and others working to get Derry made the UK city of culture establishing a stronger link to the UK. Of course…this also makes stronger the name LONDONDERRY rather than derry. And who would of thought…the IRA commander of Derry (at least for one day) would have been the one working ever so hard to get this to happen. For Mcguiness it beats having Derry made the Irish city of culture.

  • old school

    Mc Guinness campaigned to drop Articles 2 and 3, effectively rescinding Irish legitimacy of territorial jurisdiction in the 6 Counties and later campaigns to have an Irish city classifed as a U.K city.
    Make of that what you will.

  • old school

    Derry is, currently, in the UK that is not likely to change in the next year, so why not take advantage of something that may bring jobs and some prosperity? The title does not make anyone a traitor, it makes them a realist.

    MMcG may have taken advantage of his position and feathered his own nest, that seems to be pretty much what all politicians in every country do. Cronyism? when almost every British MP employs family to run their own offices etc. etc. etc.

    If the ‘game’ was rigged there must have been a lot of people involved including all four cities. I suppose realistically its a possibility but what difference does it make. Derry is in the UK for the next year anyway!

  • joeCanuck

    More commonly now called Boudica, sometimes Boudicca, formerly Boadicea.

  • joeCanuck

    Does the younger generation not realize the close connections between the northwest and Scotland at least prior to the “troubles”. I can only speak of the northwest because that’s where I lived until I was 17. The place was invaded in July and August by Scottish folk over visiting their relatives.
    We are intermingled races, with the English too and to ignore that is just silly.

  • Munsterview

    Heartiest congradulations to Derry and her people. In the words of the late Brendan Behan another occasion,” f*** the begrudgers ” ! And that applies to Green and Orange alike!

    Derry as a City of Culture can be whatever her citizens requires it to be, I am sure that it will marshall all the talent at it’s disposal and do Ulster ( all of it ) and Ireland proud. Some of this carping so far, is not alone looking a gift horse in the mouth, it is also raising the animals tail and looking up his rear end as well!

  • drumlins rock

    And the port was the gateway to America and Canada, not always a oneway exchange.
    The credit for this has to go to the team who put the bid together, just as London beat the odds by presenting a really tight Olympics bid the Derry-Londonderry team changed the problems into challenges, maybe it was just spin but now it can be built on, Belfast learnt the hard way that alot of hard hard work is need to put in such a bid, thankfully the lesson was no wasted on the north west.

  • Mick Fealty


    You want to try living there for a while. That would sort you out. It is possible to live in the south without compromise on the matter of national solidarity (you just join the ‘I Hate FF’ club when you are young and then vote them into power for generations when you’re older).

    NI has been compromised since its inception long before the compromises of the Belfast Agreement. You learn live with the wonky vision and mild political psychosis it gives give most, if not all of us.

    You are positing an idea that acceptance of being a de facto part of the UK falsifies your belief in the name change, or for that matter, constitutional change. I do see the point you are getting at, but one simply doesn’t follow from the other.

    Getting out of the UK is going to be a long hard slog of engagement, compromise and building up the shadow of a prosperous future… That was a tough call in 98, and it will be even tougher in the decade to come as the wider world we are all of us on the island dependent on to create that prosperous future becomes more fractured and unpredictable.

  • Mick Fealty

    Would you do us a piece on that for Listenderry? I’ve been trying to tease a few sceptics into writing on it, but they’ve been reluctant for fear it being used by the organisers for their own marketing ends…

    But I for one want to hear the sceptical end… and there is plenty to be sceptical about particularly regarding the long term effects… short term exuberance if it leaves the city with a post party hangover and nothing to show for it.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Let the begging begin in earnest.

  • I for one would welcome a counter-argument.

    Personally I’m a huge supporter of the win but if there are real questions about how this will affect the city and NI in general, let’s start talking about them – listenderry is the perfect spot.

    Derry’s got it, but to make the most of it we need reasoned input and useful debate.

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Just back from a tour of LondonderryDerry, more commonly known by its proper name – Derryhey!, to gauge the feelings following the award of UK City of Culture.

    Found that the Fountain Estate was the only place on the Cityside to be flying the UK flag so I decided to start my voxpop there.

    Asked a local did the award bring them a warm glow? They replied that the only warm glow in the Fountain was provided by the Bogside Cultural Community pitching petrol bombs over the Bishop Street Without wall.

    Moved on to the Bogside and asked about the ‘Brits’ coming to the city in 2013. The locals thanked me for the heads-up and they started to stockpile bricks.

    On up the hill to Creggan; what about the award I asked? One guy said “when I hear the words ‘UK Culture’ I reach for my gun.”

    Looking forward to the street theatre already.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Yes I know, it was for Garza!

  • Oracle

    This has to be a political decision…. it just has to be!

    Because if not it means one thing and one thing only…… that Birmingham, Sheffield and Norwich are unquestionably complete and utter shitholes.

  • Rory Carr

    I see that the video heavily promotes the ancient Derry pastime of skateboarding. Wow! So cutting edge! So out there, man.

    If this idea takes off we could have young people all over the globe joining in and skateboarding all over parks and malls from Canterbury to far Cathay.

    It’s a surefire winner. Why did no one ever think of this before?

  • Wabbits


    I will write you a piece about the whole thing and it won’t be full of self congratulation. There will be serious difficulties ahead for this City of Culture year and the two and half years leading up to it.Not all of these difficulties are as apparent or indeed obvious as some people might think.

  • waterside mother

    wise up you ass,try and see that our children deserve a better future than we all have had,we will never forget but we have to move on,what have dublin given us ? does it matter were the money to rebuild our city comes from why not take it all now,
    try and see some sence or do you still dream in the past with all our bombs and pullets

  • fat CROC

    How many of the naysayers are happy to accept DLA, dole and housing payouts from the British state? Thought so.

    And, Derry would be better off without this? Yes, let’s continue the stale status quo of unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and disenfranchised young people. City of Culture 2013 is an opportunity to address all of these and more.

    Take a wise hi.