Monday, 17 September 2012

Londonderry Flag

This idea really only came to me from a post on a different blog about a new flag for the city of Liverpool. Being a Liverpool FC fan I thought I would have ago too. Then I thought about what about my own city Londonderry? Londonderry(aka Derry, Dorie(Irish) Lunnonderrie/Derrie(Scots) the walled city and the maiden city) is one of the most ancient and historic places in Ireland. It is Northern Irelands second city and is set to be the first ever UK city of culture in 2013, so it seems right we should have a decent flag. The flag currently flown over the Derry City Council offices (not the Guildhall where council sits which has no flag pole) is this:

This is a very simple flag with two main features, the city coat of arms and the crimson field. I will explain both.

First off the coat of arms. the most ancient part of the arms consist of a black shield with a skeleton sitting on a mossy stone with a castle in the background. No one really knowns the origin of these.  

  • A suggestion has been made that the castle is related to an early 14th century castle in nearby Greencastle belonging to the Anglo-Norman Earl of Ulster Richard de Burgh.
  • The most popular theory about the skeleton is that it is that of a Norman De Burgh knight who was starved to death in the castle dungeons in 1332 on the orders of his cousin the above mentioned Earl of Ulster. Another explanation put forward was that it depicted Cahir O'Doherty (Sir Charles O'Dogherty), who was put to death after Derry was invested by the English army in 1608. 
In 1979, Londonderry City Council, (before the council changed its name,) commissioned a report into the city's arms and insignia, as part of the design process for an heraldic badge. The published report found that there was no basis for any of the popular explanations for the skeleton and that it was "purely symbolic and does not refer to any identifiable person"
The next cheif of the arms bears the arms of the city of London. It was the London Guilds who funded the reconstruction and plantation of the city and the building of new walls(which still stand today) and a new charter in 1613. (hence the name Londonderry). A Harp was added to the centre of the cross, this is sometimes forgot about, and in the past has been dropped completely In 2002 Derry City Council applied to the College of Arms to have the harp restored to the city arms, and Garter and Norroy & Ulster Kings of Arms accepted. The harp sometimes appears on top of the shield. In Loyalist and Unionist interpenetration's a crown might appear on top of the arms both with and without a harp. Although no crown was ever offically added to the official armsThe motto Vita Veritas Victoria is Latin for life truth victory. . The cities arms are often flanked with flags,banners and weapons. Below is a carving from inside the city Guildhall it depicts cannon, swords spears and muskets and colours flanking the shield. the four flags in this case are a British red ensign representing that Londonderry is a port. the blue flag with gold harp is a traditional flag of Ireland, and the dark crimson ones in the background I will come to next.

The Crimson flag is also part of the Derry tradition. To understand it you need to know that in 1689 the city withstood over 100 days of siege. It was the third and last attack on the walls(which have never been breeched hence the maiden city) During this conflict a crimson emblem was displayed on the walls and later on the Cathedral as a symbol of defiance to the attackers. It features in George Folingsby's painting the Relief of Derry symbolising relief ships lifting the siege. It is belied to have been dipped in blood hence the crimson colour. This colour is known as 'Derry Crimson' and the colour of school blazers, council vehicles
   and the sashes of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Clubs who hoist the crimson banner on the Cathedral and carry it as a colour at the anniversaries of the shutting of the gates and relief celebrations every year.

Top: Crimson Flag flown from St Columbs Cathedral the establish city cathedral (there is a second Roman Catholic one outside the walls) Above Bottom: a crimson Apprentice Boys flag.

The city of culture flag looks like this flown from the Derry-Londonderry round the world race yacht as you can see it is rather operate so I believe we need a better flag to show the world.: 
Not wanting to abandon the coat of arms or the crimson banner I decided to use both I used a banner of the arms in the council logo:
I used a design similar to the flag of City of Dublin shown below:
As you can see a banner of the arms appears in the canton of the design. My designs are below:
 Arms in canton
Arms at hoist

This is a little bare so I added the red hand of ulster 

However I don't think it works so a harp on a blue shield seed logical as it is another shield often seen in the Guildhall. 

The problem with these shields are that it might say Ireland, Northern Ireland or Ulster but not Derry. so I needed a badge and walking in Guildhall square I saw it on the walls. 

An oak leaf symbolising the city origins with a bastion symbolising the ancient walls. I incorporated it in the flags

I also made an elongated version for use as street banners on lampposts: 

The new designs belong to me. All comments welcome 


  1. The last horizontal flag and the vertical flag are my favorites. Maybe, with a less straight canton, the penultimate could also work very good.

    I made a post with my own proposal. The link is here.

  2. Hi there I'm looking to buy standard for my abod club do use make them

    1. Hi brother, no I'm just a blogger, I have no expertise in physically making or selling flags. I would suggest any of the big marching bands shops, my club got a new stand of colours two years ago, but I can't remember where, but will try to find out. You could try these websites or the latter being recomended by the Flag Institute, sorry I can't be anymore help