Along with Derry, Londonderry and LegenDerry, the second city of Northern Ireland was yesterday christened “MerryDerry” by the chairman of the judging committee for the UK City of Culture.
Phil Redmond was in Derry for a tour of the city he and the rest of the judges unanimously awarded City of Culture 2013. He was accompanied by the Minister of Culture Ed Vaizey, First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness and Secretary of State Owen Paterson.
Following a tour of the city's historic walls, the delegation was joined in the Millennium Forum by the key players behind the winning bid. The joy that ignited in the Guildhall on Thursday night was showing no signs of abating yesterday in Derry where even the sun had the good manners to shine brightly.
While the details of the bid had remained a closely guarded secret until yesterday, Redmond was at last able to outline just what it was about the Derry/Londonderry bid that got the judges’ votes.
The TV producer and screenwriter said: “We were careful that we would not visit any of the cities so that we would be unduly influenced because we wanted the bids to be centred on what is the core of culture — the written and spoken word.
“We wanted to be fair to everyone and wanted the power and the passion to come through, and that was why you got it.
“I think that to the Derry/Londonderry/LegenDerry you should add MerryDerry.”
Yesterday was the first time Mr Vaizey had been in Derry and he remarked that the enthusiasm of the people from every part of the city was very evident. He said that perhaps Mr Redmond should be given the Freedom of the City — a suggestion that was warmly received by the crowd gathered in the forum.
Just a sample of the richness of Derry's culture was laid on to entertain the visitors and among these were Codetta Choir who gave a haunting rendition of Danny Boy.
This was followed by a young jazz band from Foyle and Londonderry College who gave a first class performance — all just a taster of what will be on offer to visitors to the UK's first City of Culture.