Derry Essays 7: Derry Culture or Londonderry Culture. Which?

Culture is a slippery concept to get a grip of. According to Chairman Mao: – “ People live and move in culture as fish live and move in water.” This is true of an homogeneous people like the Chinese. The people of Derry aren’t homogeneous but are culturally divided. A more apt view of Derry culture is that of Dr Goebbels: – “ Every time I hear the word culture, I reach for my Luger and release the safety catch.” …

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Derry Essays 6: So good they’ve named it several times…

Whether it is the Derry Air, the Londonderry Air or Danny Boy you sing, one sure thing is that if you’re from the North West you have a more than reasonable chance to have a fine voice and musical talent – and as a musician born from the musical Cassidy clan from Derry I don’t need to throw the stone too far at all! Of course another feature is the modesty of those in all of the Arts field whose …

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Derry Essays 5: Culture bid can help with Derry’s image problem

We have to admit, there’s something absurd about the idea of Derry as a city of culture. It would be OK if the other contenders were Beirut, Kabul, Baghdad and Tehran. But Derry’s competition for The City of Culture title comes from tranquil English cities where history stopped years ago. The maiden city is better known as a city of strife. Its big quarrel has only been going for 300 years. Where else would a competition about culture start with …

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Derry Essays 4: We are the greatest…

I have written many times about Derry’s importance as a European cultural capital [1], and every time I’ve met with relentless patronising from subjects of much-lesser cities whose only notable attribute is size. There’s a small snigger, accompanied by an oh-so-clever remark about “chips on his shoulder” as they slope back to their generic lattes, in generic cafés in Blandland. I’ve lived in, worked in, or visited every Irish city – and quite a few in Britain besides. And let …

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Derry Essay 3: Sharing our Past, Sharing our Future

A couple of years ago at an event to promote the Walled City cultural tourism attractions at Stormont, Martin McGuinness talked about ‘Derry’ and ‘Londonderry’. With those two words he gave explicit recognition to the multiple narratives that are required to tell Northern Ireland’s story. The story that Derry/Londonderry wishes to tell entwines Colmcille, Plantation, 1689, and Free Derry with a cultural story that brings us into the present day.  What was impressive about that event was how this rich …

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Derry Essays 2: A city on the border…

Derry is in the UK, true enough, but not only in the UK. The potential ‘UK City of Culture’ now stretches well beyond the boundaries of the state. Housing estates full of Derry commuters have sprung up in recent years on all the roads that stretch north, south and west of the city centre and across the nearby international boundary. Some people jokingly refer to Golan Hill on the outskirts of Buncrana in Co Donegal as ‘Golan Heights’ because there …

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Derry Essays 1: Precarious future of the living Protestant heritage

“Derry/Londonderry” is either an expression or stalemate or a statement of intent to create a truly shared future. The UK City of culture bid should help decide which it really is. Outwardly, the Jerusalem of Ulster where I grew up over half century ago has survived far better than I could have hoped. The physical layout is still the perfect metaphor for Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide. Proud citadel towers over huddled masses in an area below obligingly called the Bogside. …

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