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  • Availability is mainly in the summer vacation period (June, July, August, September), when students clear their rooms
  • Rooms typically become available two to three months in advance, so please revisit the website within that period if nothing is available now

Visitor accommodation in Londonderry / Derry

Not just for students - anyone can book!

  • Staying in university accommodation in Londonderry is a convenient and affordable way to visit the second-largest city in Northern Ireland
  • Rooms provide a comfortable alternative option to staying in a hostel or cheap hotel in Derry

Londonderry Visitor information

Derry, or Londonderry, is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland. The name is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille". In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and the "London" prefix was added, changing the name of the city to Londonderry. The city is also nicknamed the Maiden City by virtue of the fact that its walls were never breached during the Siege of Derry in the late 17th century.

While the city is more usually known as Derry, Londonderry is also used and remains the legal name. The old walled city lies on the west bank of the River Foyle, which is spanned by two road bridges and one footbridge. The city now covers both banks (Cityside on the west and Waterside on the east). Derry is renowned for its architecture, which can be primarily ascribed to the formal planning of the historic walled city of Derry at the core of the modern city. This is centred on the Diamond with a collection of late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian buildings maintaining the gridlines of the main thoroughfares to the City Gates.

Derry is the only remaining completely intact walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. The walls constitute the largest monument in State care in Northern Ireland and, as the last walled city to be built in Europe, stands as the most complete and spectacular. The Walls were built between 1613 and 1619 as defences for early 17th century settlers from England and Scotland. Since their construction, they have been adapted to meet the needs of a changing city, most notably with the insertion of three additional gates into the walls in the course of the 19th century.

Today, the fortifications form a continuous promenade around the city centre, complete with cannons, avenues of mature trees and views across Derry. Historic buildings within the walls include the 1633 Gothic cathedral of St Columb, the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall and the courthouse. There are many sites of interest in and around the city, including the Foyle Valley Railway Centre, the Amelia Earhart Centre And Wildlife Sanctuary and the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall. The "Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival" in Derry is a huge tourism boost for the city. The carnival is promoted as being the first and longest running Halloween carnival in the whole of Ireland. It is called the largest street party in Ireland by the Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau with more than 30,000 visitors annually. In December 2007 Derry entered the Guinness Book of Records when 13,000 Santas gathered to break the world record beating previous records held by Liverpool and Las Vegas.

Accommodation in Londonderry’s university residences

Derry is home to the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster, formerly Magee College. The campus has 3,500 students and offers casual visitor accommodation during the vacation periods. It should be understood that these residences are designed primarily for students and not children or adults expecting a high level of luxury. However, with this in mind, the properties do meet a level of comfort that we expect most visitors to be happy with, and we will welcome any feedback where this is not the case.

Getting to Londonderry

In spite of it being the second city of Northern Ireland, road and rail links to other cities are below par for its standing. Northern Ireland Railways (N.I.R.) has a single route from Londonderry (Waterside) railway station to Belfast Central via Coleraine, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Antrim and Whiteabbey. There is no direct motorway link with Dublin or Belfast. Long distance buses depart from Foyle Street Bus Station to destinations throughout Ireland. There is a daily service to Belfast, called the Maiden City Flyer, and hourly services to Strabane, Omagh, Coleraine, Letterkenny and Buncrana, and eleven services a day to Dublin. City of Derry airport is the main airport for County Donegal, County Londonderry and west County Tyrone, as well as Derry City itself.

History of Londonderry

Derry is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Ireland. The earliest historical references date to the 6th century when a monastery was founded there, but for thousands of years before that people had been living in the vicinity. It is accepted that between the 6th century and the 11th century, Derry was known primarily as a monastic settlement. The town became strategically more significant during the Tudor conquest of Ireland and came under frequent attack, until in 1608 it was destroyed by Cahir O'Doherty, Irish chieftain of Inishowen. Planters organised by London livery companies arrived in the 17th century as part of the plantation of Ulster, and built the city of Londonderry across the Foyle from the earlier town, with walls to defend it from Irish insurgents, who did not welcome the occupation. During the 1640s, the city suffered in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which began with the Irish Rebellion of 1641, when the Gaelic Irish insurgents made a failed attack on the city.

The city was rebuilt in the 18th century with many of its fine Georgian style houses still surviving. During the 18th and 19th centuries the port became an important embarkation point for Irish emigrants setting out for North America. Some of these founded the colonies of Derry and Londonderry in the state of New Hampshire. During the Irish War of Independence, the area was rocked by sectarian violence, partly prompted by the guerilla war raging between the Irish Republican Army and British forces. By mid 1920 there was severe sectarian rioting in the city. Many Catholics and Protestants were expelled from their homes during this communal unrest. In 1921, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the partition of Ireland, it unexpectedly became a border city, separated from much of its traditional economic hinterland in County Donegal. During the Second World War the city played an important part in the Battle of the Atlantic. Ships from the Royal Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, and other Allied navies were stationed in the city and the United States military established a base. The reason for such naval activity was that Derry was the United Kingdom's and Europe’s westernmost port and was thus a crucial jumping-off point, together with Glasgow and Liverpool, for the shipping convoys that ran between Europe and North America.

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