Friday, July 23, 2010
Londonderry is what the city is called in the North, but in the Republic it is called Derry, and the fight about the name seems to symbolize all the contention. Coming north the other day from Dublin all the direction signs read “Derry.” In many places the city is written as Londonderry/Derry, and here in the North on almost all the mileage signs, the “London” part of the word had been spray painted over so that all that was left of the name was “derry.” The fight over what to call the city caused one DJ to suggest they call it Stroke. That didn’t make much sense to me until I learned that what we call a backslash is to the Irish a stroke.
In 1748 John Newton was caught in an Atlantic storm and shipwrecked but miraculously survived which caused him to give up slave trading. While his ship was being repaired he went hunting with the Mayor of Londonderry and was shot through his hat. Now very converted and determined to change his ways he went on to be a devout Christian and many think that these experiences in Londonderry were the inspiration for his writing the hymn, “Amazing Grace.”