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  • Explore Derry's Heritage Through the History of it's Street Names

    There is no better way to explore a City so rich in heritage and culture like reading the history of its streets. In the City, the street names that we find are important historical signposts of mapping a place's physical history, its economic, social, political and cultural history too. The history of street names have always created much debate in many places across the world. Street names have an impact on the way we read the City and when exploring a historical place like Derry, the heritage of the city is etched into plagues, signs and road-maps scattered across the landscape. The late John Bryson, a Derry man, was one of the most authoritative & knowledgeable voices on the history of Derry City. In 2001 John Bryson published the first edition on the heritage of 'Derry's Streets' .The Belfast Telegraph said; "The first edition of Streets of Derry (1625-2001), produced by Guildhall Press 20 years ago, rapidly became one of the most authoritative and sought-after histories of north west Ireland ever written." It received recognition from historians as one of the most detailed history books on the mapping of Derry City, and was an excellent guide for tourists who wanted to learn more about the landscape and its heritage. However, Mr Bryson viewed the first edition as a work in progress. He immediately set about improving it by travelling further back into the dark ages and forward into the 21st century. The old edition is now being sold for as much as £150 online, but you can buy the new and improved book published by Colmcille Press for only £20. In the new Columban Anniversary edition, readers can find a historical map of Derry created by John Bryson of the Columban Derry City c. 1510, which he named Daire. The astounding work Mr. Bryson put into the map, will, as Garbhán Downey says, "certainly be known by generations to come as 'The Bryson Map'." Throughout Bryson's Derry's Streets, there are many photographs and "reminders of [Derry's] industrial past through its built heritage include Nimmons Shirt Factory, Pennyburn Mill and the City Factory, while evocative names such as Jampot Row, Dark Lane and Fishboat Quay leap off the pages." (Irish Times) Whether you're a history buff, a tourist, student or have a general interest in the heritage of the city, we would suggest you buy a copy of this fantastic book on the history and heritage of Derry City for yourself. Buy John Bryson's Derry's Streets now from our website, Little Acorns, Foyle books or our Etsy store.

  • Reading the Language of My Homeplace

    Our intern Clare, a student from the North West Regional College in Derry, takes a look at Seamus Heaney's 'hearth language' with the help of 'From Aftergrass to Yellow Boots' by poet and educator Maura Johnston. When I started my internship at Colmcille Press, I was shown the many wonderful books that have been published so far and one in particular caught my eye. It was Maura Johnston's 'From Aftergrass to Yellow Boots', a glossary of Seamus Heaney's 'Hearth Language'. I am a local of Portglenone originally, a stone's throw away from Seamus Heaney's homeplace in the townland of Bellaghy, County Derry. I would say I am an old student of Heaney's work as I studied his poems in school. When I picked up Maura Johnston's glossary, I re-discovered part of my heritage I had lost and, I was re-connected with the beautiful 'hearth language' of my homeland. In her introduction, Maura talks about the phrase 'hearth language' that Heaney uses, and explains how it is "the language we learn and use at first within the family and then... within the local community". In school I read among other works, Heaney's poem 'Digging' and I vividly remember imagining Heaney with his pen 'snug as a gun' in his hand digging into the paper to write his poems. I remember also reading about the "fresh berries" that went sour and how Heaney filled a bath with "summer's blood" in "Blackberry Picking". The language Heaney uses is a dialect and experience that is very close to my heart. Johnston's 'From Aftergrass to Yellow Boots', is a 126 page glossary that captures the rural experience, details and preserves a local dialect which students can use to assist them in reading the famous Irish poets work. For me, an old student of Seamus Heaney's work and a local of his homeland, I felt like a tourist retracing the language and what it means to speak this Derry dialect. Within the book there are also pictures of Heaney's homeplace within Johnston's book giving the reader a visceral image of what Heaney tries to capture in his work, the simple but complicated life in the Derry townland. I learned how my heritage and the dialect that Heaney and I both share and is slowly dying, Johnston's book has been able to preserve these words and phrases in a glossary that she hopes "will help readers of Seamus Heaney's poetry and plays...the explanations will enrich their reading and... help preserve his hearth language." (Introduction to 'From Aftergrass to Yellow Boots'). You can pick up a copy of Maura Johnston's 'From Aftergrass to Yellow Boots' on our website, Etsy shop or check buy from local Derry booksellers': Foyle Books and Little Acorns

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