Connections: My Place My People
This article has been specially written for thousands of pupils across Northern Ireland who are doing the Belfast Telegraph cross-curricular project on Connections: My Place, My People. Over a six-week period we will focus on Northern Ireland’s six counties and people with special connections to each one. Today it is the turn of County Derry/Londonderry.
A land of great beauty and history
The county of Derry/Londonderry is renowned for its history and stunning landscapes.
Located in the north-west of Northern Ireland it is a place which enjoys music, the arts and sport.
The city of the same name has a host of attractions, especially the Walls of Derry, which were completed in 1618 and form a walkway around the inner city.
Inside those famous walls is the Church of Ireland’s St Columb’s Cathedral. It has dominated the Londonderry skyline since 1633.
Another historic and important church is St Columba’s Long Tower, which is outside the walls. Opened in 1788, it was the first Catholic church erected in the city after the Reformation and Plantation of Ulster.
The Guildhall in Derry, which was the UK City of Culture in 2013, is also worth visiting with its stunning stained glass windows, while the Peace Bridge has become popular for both local residents and visitors. The bridge was opened in 2011 and allows people to walk and cycle across the River Foyle.
When it was being built, the aim was to physically and symbolically unite and connect both sides of the River Foyle.
Another wonderful sight in the county is Portstewart Strand, a two-mile long beach, great to play in the sand or simply walk across.
The Martello Tower at Magilligan is a well-known landmark which was built during the Napoleonic Wars to guard against possible French invasion, while the views from Mussenden Temple, a small circular building on cliffs near the village of Castlerock, high above the Atlantic Ocean, are worth seeing.
The county has much to offer, including towns such as Coleraine, Magherafelt and Limavady, where Roe Valley Country Park is located.
County Derry/Londonderry has given the world some famous musical performers, from the tenor Josef Locke to the composer and songwriter Phil Coulter and Feargal Sharkey, who was the lead singer of The Undertones, to Nadine Coyle, from Girls Aloud.
It is also a sports-mad county, with football and GAA among the most popular.
Rowing has proved successful too, with Alan Campbell, Richard Chambers and Peter Chambers from Coleraine all winning Olympic medals in the sport.
A Special Person
Caitlin McGuckin : P6 New Row Primary School
Our school secretary is called Sharon. Sharon is a very friendly and organised person who has the title of a secretary but wears many different hats each day in our school.
Sharon is the first person we meet every day and she always has a warm smile. She looks after breakfast club, takes our dinner money and organises our after-school clubs — all before 9am!
Sharon has a caring personality and helps all the children in many ways throughout each day. She acts as school nurse when we fall or have a bump in the playground. She will apply plasters, wipe away tears and give comfort when needed.
Sharon also helps the teachers and Mrs Graffin, our principal, a lot too. She answers the phone, delivers messages, sorts dinner money, types notes for parents and helps to look after anyone who needs medicine during the day. She is always very busy.
Sharon is very helpful and puts all staff and students before herself. She has a very caring personality and is always willing to help, no matter what the task may be.
County Derry/Londonderry connections
Seamus Heaney is viewed as one of the greatest Irish poets in history. Seamus was born in Co Derry in 1939 and went on to produce incredible work that was respected throughout the world. He won a host of honours including the Nobel Prize for Literature and was made Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, before passing away in 2013, aged 74.
Bronagh Gallagher is a talented singer and actress from Derry who is proud of her roots. She has starred in a host of movies including The Commitments, Star Wars Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace, Thunderpants and Arthur Christmas.
Born in the maiden city in 1972, Bronagh is also a gifted songwriter. Her latest album is called Gather Your Greatness.
Declan Donnelly is one half of television’s famous double act Ant and Dec. The duo are well-known for presenting shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity. Less well known is that Dec’s parents hailed from Desertmartin in Co Londonderry before moving to Newcastle in England where the popular presenter was born in 1975.