Affixed to the City Walls in Guildhall Square, I came across the plaques in the attached photograph.
The circular plaque, clearly associated with the centre one, brings together two symbols of Derry – the famous 17th century City Walls which are among the best preserved and most complete city walls in Europe and the oak leaf, a much older symbol of Derry, recalling the oak grove that was here when the city was first established and indeed the origin of half the official name of the city. Derry is an Anglicisation of the old Irish Daire or later Irish Doire which means oak-grove or oak-wood. The prefix, London, was added to form Londonderry in the 17th century in recognition of London’s contribution to the development of the city at that time and indeed for a significant time later.
The centre plaque has a fairly obvious and clear message being a memorial to those of the city and surrounding district who lost their lives in various wars and conflicts.
The bottom plaque, clearly a later addition, is somewhat more cryptic and indeed I was completely stumped as to its meaning and significance.
Having carried out some research I have solved the mystery (perhaps my readers already knew the answer).
Flowing on from the “resolution” of the Troubles in the early 2000s one of the peace dividends was that various US companies including Raytheon set up business in Northern Ireland. Raytheon was, and indeed still is, a massive US defence contractor and manufacturer of weapons and military equipment including Patriot, Tomahawk, Cruise and Sidewinder missiles.
Local anti-war activists, over a number of years, engaged in protests against Raytheon operating in Derry. While Raytheon maintained that its Derry operations were limited to software development and that no weapons were ever manufactured here, war and conflict weary protesters were not convinced. In particular, Raytheon repeatedly denied claims that its Derry plant made components for bunker bombs deployed by the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza.
In 2011 Raytheon finally yielded to years of protests, some of which had caused considerable damage to its plant, and ceased its operations in Derry.
Given this background the meaning of this memorial’s words becomes obvious.
“In memory of all those killed by weapon systems produced within this City & District”.
While there are no clues as to who erected the plaque or when it was erected I assume it was erected by a sympathetic Derry City Council some-time after Raytheon’s departure from the City.
Address: Affixed to the City Walls in Guildhall Square
This entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on many trips to Londonderry/Derry. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Bloody Sunday Memorial – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – The City on the Foyle.