The name Culmore comes from the gaelic ‘cúil mór’ meaning ‘big corner’, which describes the triangular land-feature jutting out from the coastline, creating the narrow channel where the River Foyle flows into Lough Foyle.
Historically, this has been a strategically significant landmark. The O’Doherty clan of Inishowen built a fortified, three-storey, tower house on the site from which they controlled access to the River Foyle.
In May 1600, the English soldier Sir Henry Docwra, regarded by some as ‘the founder of Derry’, landed at Culmore with 4,000 troops and 200 horse. They fended off initial attacks by the native Irish and set up camp close to the fort, building earthen ramparts for protection. Evidence of these fortifications can still be seen near the Culmore shoreline.
Within a week of arriving, Sir Henry left Culmore with more than 3,000 troops and headed for Derry, a thinly populated settlement five miles away. There he began the commercial and demographic development of the area and within five years King James I had issued a Royal Charter creating the “city and county of Derrie”.
Nowadays, Culmore is home to Lough Foyle Yacht Club. Visitors can park near the fort.