St Columb's Cathedral
St Columb's Cathedral

Almost fifty historic buildings across Londonderry, including St Columb’s Cathedral, the ‘Wee Church on the Walls’ and Carlisle Road Methodist Church, will be throwing their doors open to the public for European Heritage weekend next month (September 12 and 13).

The historic Ashbrook House in Ardmore, which is situated on a sixteenth century estate on the outskirts of Londonderry and which once played host to the man who led the Allies during WW2, is also taking part, as is Prehen House, famously linked with the notorious ‘Half Hanged’ McNaughton who was publicly executed in Lifford for the shocking killing of the teenage daughter of its owner Andrew Knox, the MP for Donegal, in 1761.

There will also be a series of heritage events in the Guildhall and local public libraries, tours of the city’s shirt factories, Ebrington Barracks and the famous Derry Walls.

Other, perhaps lesser known built heritage gems, which will be available for exploration, include the Grocers’ Company houses in Eglinton, named after the London guild that funded the plantation of the village.

This listed building was built by the Company of Grocers in the 1830s.

Restored in 2001, it forms one of a group of craftsmen’s houses, this one being known as the Carpenter’s Dwelling. It was part of the re-design of the village from 1823-36.

The refurbishment of the property in 2001 has made it a vibrant part of the local community and it is occupied by Headmaster’s Barber, the Green Cafe and a Chinese Takeaway.

There will also be a tour of the village and its 15 historic listings, including buildings and stone walls.

The Main Street has retained its village character with remains of buildings dating from the late medieval gable of the old church.

And why not visit the Freemasons’ Hall in Bishop Street?

The three storey listed Georgian building was built in 1753 and extended in 1800 and was the Bishop’s Palace until 1946.

It was the residence of Cecil Frances Alexander who wrote “All things bright and beautiful” and “There is a green field far away”. Earl Bishop Harvey was also resident.

Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan certainly thinks you should.

“This is a milestone year for European Heritage Open Days (EHOD) when it will be celebrating 18 years of literally unlocking the doors to our past and present heritage. “Some properties are open for the EHOD weekend only so this is a unique opportunity to explore our rich cultural and built heritage.

“Brochures are available online now so why not start planning your EHOD weekend.

“With over 400 properties and events there is something for everyone, young and old, on your doorstep or further afield.

“All events are free but some require advance booking so I encourage everyone to check out the website now to avoid disappointment.”

For full details check out the brochures now available at http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/niea/ehod.aspx