When its boundaries were first defined for “modern” times, this was known as the County of Coleraine, named for the busy little port on the River Bann a few miles inland from the Atlantic coast. It was an area long favoured by settlers, for Mountsandel - on the salmon-rich Bann a mile south of Coleraine - is where the 9,000 year old traces of the site of some of the oldest-known houses in Ireland have been found.
Today, Coleraine is the main campus of the University of Ulster, with the vitality of student life spreading to the nearby coastal resorts of Portstewart and Portrush in the area known as the "Golden Triangle", appropriately fringed to the north by the two golden miles of Portstewart Strand. Southwestward from Coleraine, the county - which was re-named after the City of Derry became Londonderry in 1613 - offers a fascinating variety of places and scenery, with large areas of fine farmland being punctuated by ranges of hills, while the rising slopes of the Sperrin Mountains dominate the County's southern boundary.
The road from Belfast to Derry sweeps through the Sperrins by way of the stirringly-named Glenshane Pass, and from its heights you begin to get the first glimpses westward of the mountains of Donegal. This is an appropriate hint of the new atmosphere in the City of Derry itself. This lively place could reasonably claim to be the most senior of all Ireland's contemporary cities, as it can trace its origins directly back to a monastery of St Colmcille, otherwise Columba, founded in 546AD. Today, the historic city, its ancient walls matched by up-dated port facilities on the River Foyle and a cheerfully restored urban heart, is moving into a vibrant future in which it thrives on the energy drawn from its natural position as the focal point of a larger catchment area which takes in much of Donegal County to the west in addition to County Londonderry to the east.
The area eastward of Lough Foyle is increasingly popular among discerning visitors, the Roe Valley through Dungiven and Limavady being particularly attractive. The re-establishment of the ferry between Magilligan Point and Greencastle in Donegal across the narrow entrance to Lough Foyle has added a new dimension to the region's infrastructure, as does the up-grading of the increasingly busy City of Derry Airport at Eglinton.
Local Attractions and Information
Bellaghy Bellaghy Bawn (Seamus Heaney centre) +44 (0)2879 386812
Castlerock Hezlett House +44 (0)2870 848567
City of Derry Airport +44 (0)2871 810784
Coleraine Guy L Wilson Daffodil Garden +44 (0)2870 344141
Coleraine Tourism Information +44 (0)2870 344723
Derry City The Fifth Province - Celtic culture +44 (0)2871 373177
Derry City Foyle Arts Centre +44 (0)2871 266657
Derry City Foyle Cruises (year round) +44 (0)2871 362857
Derry City Foyle Valley Railway Centre +44 (0)2871 265234
Derry City The Guildhall +44 (0)2871 377335
Derry City Harbour Museum +44 (0)2871 377331
Derry City Millennium Forum Theatre +44 (0)2871 264426
Derry City Orchard Gallery +44 (0)2871 269675
Derry City The Playhouse +44 (0)2871 268027
Derry City St Columb's Cathedral +44 (0)2871 267313
Derry City Tourism Information +44 (0)2871 267284
Derry City Tower Museum +44 (0)2871 372411
Downhill Mussenden Temple & Gardens +44 (0)2870 848728
Draperstown Plantation of Ulster Visitor Centre +44 (0)2879 627800
Garvagh Museum & Heritage Centre +44 (0)2829 558216
Limavady Roe Valley & Ness Wood Country Parks +44 (0)2877 722074
Limavady Tourism Information +44 (0)2877 760307
Magherafelt Tourism Information +44 (0)2879 631510
Magilligan Lough Foyle Ferry (to Donegal) +353 (0)77 81901
Moneymore Springhill (NT house) +44 (0)2886 748210
Sperrin Mountains Sperrins Tourism +44 (0)2879 634570