By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The ties between the local area, and Derry, Northern Ireland, are strong and those across the pond are hoping for some American visitors this summer.
Residents in Derry’s namesake town in Ireland are preparing to celebrate this year as the first United Kingdom City of Culture and also its 400th birthday.
Irish residents want local Derry and Londonderry residents to be part of the party.
“I am especially keen to have people whose ancestors originated from this part of Ireland come as tourists during 2013, to enjoy the many events that we will be promoting and also to search for their ancestors whilst here,” said William Houston, a member of the UK City of Culture 2013 committee.
Derry/Londonderry was named the UK’s inaugural City of Culture. Preparations are now underway for the big celebration.
One visitor all set to go is town historian Richard Holmes, who will be speaking at a conference in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in July to honor the connections between the two countries and towns.
According to Holmes’ book “A Second Glimpse of Derry,” people migrated from Scotland to Northern Ireland in the early 1600s to escape religious prosecution. Those people settled in an area called Derry, later to be named Londonderry.
In the early 1700s, a group of 16 families eventually emigrated to the New World, arriving in “Nutfield,” now Derry Village, to start a new life.
Led by the Rev. James MacGregor, the town’s earliest settlers included names like Gregg, Cargill, Nesmith, Anderson and Allison.
Many are buried in the historic Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry.
As part of his trip abroad, Holmes will also participate in a reception with the Lord Mayor in the Guild Hall in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He will present a proclamation congratulating them on their celebration and to recognize the shared history.
“We were the first town in the New World to be founded by Scotch-Irish immigrants,” Holmes said.
Holmes wants anyone that might like to travel along with him to Ireland to contact him at 434-6042. He said he would love to have Derry represented in Ireland in 2013.
To learn more about what’s planned in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in 2013, visit cityofculture2013.com.