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Rich history of Derry's St Columb's Hall documented in book


Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst

The rich history of one of Londonderry's landmark buildings where Eleanor Marx, Emmeline Pankhurst and Eamon De Valera all made public addresses has been documented in a new publication to mark its place in the city's history.

St Columb's Hall, which sits adjacent to part of the Derry Walls, was also used by the British army in December 1920 as a barracks for hundreds of troops during a particularly bloody period in the City's history linked to the War of Independence. Peter Tracey, Chair of the Foyle Civic Trust researched the rich and varied past of this familiar Grade A Listed building for the new publication.

He said: "Since its opening in 1888 St Columb's Hall has played a major role in the lives of over three generations of the people of this city. As we enter the second decade of the 21st century it is imperative for the city that this architecturally and socially important building finds a new sustainable lease of life for the next 100 years.

"It was the venue of choice for some of the world's most iconic performers and notaries over the last 130 years, including Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl Marx who spoke at the Hall in 1889 to recruit the local workers to join their local union and Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst who campaigned for women's right to vote in a keynote speech at St Columb's Hall in 1910.

"Eamon De Valera rallied supporters during the War of Independence at the Hall in 1924 -four years after the British Army used St Columb's Hall for several weeks as a barracks for hundreds of troops during a particularly bloody period in the City's history linked to the War of Independence."

In latter years the Hall was best known as the main entertainment venue in the city and drew many of the top international and Irish bands from the 1960s like Roy Orbison; Chubby Checker, Ruby Murray and Val Doonican but it was also key to local entertainment including bands like the Undertones.

Mr Tracey continued: "St Columb's Hall was without a doubt, Derry's main entertainment venue. It was used as a cinema, a theatre for plays and pantomimes and for a time was the home of the Derry Feis.

"What we have highlighted in this small book is the rich social history of the building which we hope will lay the foundations for the restoration of this much loved building."

Belfast Telegraph