County Derry or Londonderry?
As the terms Derry and Londonderry can cause confusion to family historians from outside Ireland it is necessary to provide a brief history.
By tradition, in 546 AD, the church of Doire (anglicised as Derry) Calgach, “the oak wood of Calgach”, was founded by St Columcille, also known as St Columba, on the crest of a small, wooded hill on the west bank of the River Foyle. The original church of hewn oak, thatched with reeds, was located where St Augustine’s Church stands today. For the next one thousand years Derry was a monastic centre of some importance.
The city of Londonderry, a settlement funded by the city of London, was established on the island of Derry, by royal charter of James I on 29 March 1613. By 1619 the city was completely enclosed within a stone wall, 24 feet high and 18 feet thick. This walled city assumed a pivotal role in safeguarding the settlement of 17th century English and Scottish planters as its walls repulsed sieges in 1641, 1649 and 1689.
The charter of 1613 also defined and established a new county which was also called Londonderry. The new County of Londonderry had been enlarged, and consisted of the County of Coleraine, the heavily wooded Barony of Loughinsholin in Tyrone, the City and Liberties of Londonderry on the Donegal side of the River Foyle, and the Town and Liberties of Coleraine on the Antrim side of the River Bann.
Today, it is a matter of personal preference to refer to the city and county as either Derry or Londonderry. For example, the Londonderry Journal, established on 3 June 1772, continued as the Derry Journal from 22 March 1880.