An Insider's Guide to Derry - The Gloss Magazine

An Insider’s Guide to Derry

Irish designer Caoimhe Grant worked for John and Simone Rocha before setting up her own brand, August Night, in 2020. Originally from Derry, the city is a constant source of inspiration for her work. Here she shares her favourite locations in the city …

As I get my first glimpse of the river Foyle and Derry’s skyline comes into view, my heart lifts. While Dublin is where I live, Derry is always home. Most of my family and relatives live there so I’m in Derry at least once a month. The city is a recurring inspiration in my work, whether it’s the soft pastel shades of photographs from the 1970s (@derryofthepast is favourite Instagram page I follow) or using its art galleries and theatres as locations for my campaign shoots.

I’m a proud Derry girl; the city has a vibrant cultural heritage, is steeped in history, and occupies the most stunning location straddling the river Foyle. A short drive takes you to the most spectacular beaches and scenery in neighbouring Donegal and North County Derry coastline. While Derry is well known for The Bogside Murals, Free Derry Corner, The City Walls and, of course, Derry Girls, here is a selection of my favourite places that are off the well-beaten tourist track.

Where to Stay

I love the historic architecture in Derry and was delighted when two stunning buildings were sensitively restored as luxury boutique hotels. Firstly, Bishop’s Gate Hotel (pictured) is a beautiful Edwardian building and boutique hotel in the heart of Derry’s Cathedral Quarter, within the historic walls; It’s a great base for exploring the city centre and immersing yourself in Derry’s expansive history. Take a stroll around the 400-year-old Derry Walls, which overlook The Bogside area and from where you get a perfect view of the Derry Murals, an illustrated guide to Derry’s political history. Do check out London Street, one of my favourite streets, its pastel-coloured buildings are so pretty! After a walking tour, try the Afternoon Tea at Bishop’s Gate – I highly recommended it, or pop into Bron Eatery and Cocktail Bar, which serves tasty food, coffee and cocktails and is just across from Bishop’s Gate hotel. The interior is stylish yet relaxed; The Shipquay Hotel, is another option, it’s an intimate boutique hotel with a distinctly contemporary feel, and is always great for a relaxing with a cocktail after a day’s shopping in the nearby Richmond or Foyle shopping centres;

Where to Eat

A new addition to Derry’s food scene is Artis by Phelim O’Hagan, serving Michelin-quality food in chic, contemporary surroundings served by friendly and attentive staff. Situated in The Craft Village alongside its sister restaurant, Starch&Soda (pictured) it’s top of my list; For coffee, and homemade pastry, try HangTen Brew Bar @hangten.brewbar, or another favourite coffee shop is Nine Hostages, which serve delicious speciality coffee and toasties right beside The Walls. For lunch or dinner, the family-run restaurant Primrose On The Quay is great for soaking up the incredible view of Derrys riverside and watching the world go by. It’s where I go for cocktails and some tapas made from local produce (@primrose_on_the_quay). Afterwards take a stroll along the historic quayside and wander over the Peace Bridge to The Walled City Brewery in Ebrington Square, a family-run gastropub serving craft beer brewed on site. Ebrington is a newly regenerated area of restored buildings from military barracks dating from 1840. It’s a gorgeous area to wander around with lots of new cafes and restaurants;

Where to Shop

The Craft Village is a reconstruction of an 18th-century street and 19th-century square and is home to Derry’s artisan shopping experience. Homegrown crafters sit alongside side quirky coffee shops and the outdoor canopied area gives it a unique and buzzy atmosphere; Two of my favourite shops in Derry have endured for many years. Faller Jewellers is a 140-year-old family business. I love its ornate storefront which has hardly changed since 1903 – you really feel you are walking into another century when you walk through its doors! The quality and craftsmanship of its team of goldsmiths is impeccable;

The Whatnot Antique store is another treasure trove for antique jewellery and collectibles;  For further vintage and retro shopping, The Yellow Yard is worth a trip. Located in an old shirt factory on Palace Street, the independent marketplace is a great way to spend an enjoyable afternoon browsing the range of vintage vinyl, gifts and clothing. Grab a coffee from St Judes on site while you shop (@yellowyardderry).


It’s not a proper trip to Derry for me without a visit to Brooke Park, a Victorian garden which has panoramic views of the city. It’s a great place to bring kids to run around in the playpark while parents can grab a coffee at the on-site coffee shop, overlooking the city. From here you can also see Tim Etchell’s “Stitch in Time” LED sign on top of Rosemount Shirt Factory, that was set up in for 2013 Lumiere Festival. It references Derry’s textile industry and shirt factory heritage which has particular significance as my grandmother and great aunts worked in the Rosemount factory. A walk in the woodlands of Ness Woods and Country Park is a must. The park has a magnificent waterfall (the highest waterfall in Northern Ireland) and scenic riverside walks. It’s the perfect setting for a picnic and its ponds and wildflower meadows make for pretty backdrops for Insta-use.

Just outside the city, you’ll find some of the most stunning beaches; one of my favourites is Lisfannon Beach, a long stretch of golden sand with an amazing view of Rathmullan in the distance. Stroove beach, just outside Moville, is a gorgeous cove hugged by rocks and wildflowers with a lighthouse towering overhead. The coastal train ride from Derry to Portrush is incredibly scenic, and a visit to Whitepark Bay beach is breath-taking. Oakfield Country Park in Raphoe is a privately-owned estate and railway with stunningly restored gardens, a lake, a hedge maze and sculptures, always worth a visit and a really fun place to bring kids. It has an enchanting Fairy Tree where many wishes have been hung; Another place I visited frequently when I was a child was Grianan of Aileach – an historic stone ringfort. This archaeological site is full of magic and mysticism and the view from the fort is breathtaking.


I’m constantly inspired by the themes of recollection and childhood nostalgia, and as a child I was taken to exhibitions and openings in Derry’s first art space, The Orchard Gallery. Derry has always had a strong presence in contemporary art and The Void Gallery in Waterloo Place is a place I love to visit. It has earned an international reputation for curating exciting and challenging exhibitions. It was also the location for my first photoshoot; The Playhouse Theatre, which was the location for my most recent bridal accessory shoot, is an amazing location for offering a diverse range of cultural performances. It’s a community art centre with a focus on peace-building, while promoting reconciliation and understanding through the arts; The Nerve Centre is a hub for music, film and creative events, a lot of which are free. Since its beginning in 1990 it offers a wide range of cultural programmes and projects with the aim to transform lives through creativity;

The city townhall, The Guidhall, is one of Derry’s most recognisable landmarks. With its neo-Gothic architecture, beautiful stained-glass windows, ornate wooden panelling and large organ, it one of the most striking buildings in Derry.

Need to Know: Caoimhe Grant has created new pieces in vibrant sorbet shades for summer. Made from duchesse satin, two new designs – the Bow Sac and Bow Backpack – come in bright juicy colours of daffodil and coral. August Night bags are priced from €150 and available from Other fabrics in the range include velvet and linen.


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