County Derry (Doire "oak grove")


Originally part of the region known as Tír Eoghain, "Eoghan's land", after one of the sons of the semi-legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages, much of the land remained in the hands of the O'Kanes (or O'Cahans) until the seventeenth century.

In 1610, under some duress from James I, the livery companies of the city of London agreed to oversee the colonisation of the area, and in 1610 the county of Londonderry was established. The old inhabitants were expropriated, new towns established and an influx of English and Scottish settlers began. Understandably under the circumstances, the name of the city and county remains somewhat sensitive, "Derry" to the descendants of the old Gaelic and Catholic natives, "Londonderry" to the descendants of the settlers. Attempts at evenhandedness, involving the convoluted "Derry/Londonderry city", spoken as "Derry-stroke-Londonderry city", have led to the sardonic local shorthand "Stroke city".

The city is one of the most beautifully situated in Ireland, on a hilltop overlooking Lough Foyle. It has gone through an extraordinary regeneration in recent years.

As well as O'Kane, other surnames associated with the county include Crilly, McCloskey, McEldowney, O'Donnell, Doherty, Friel, Stewart, Thompson and Young.