A new history trail has been launched dedicated to the life of a Derry bishop who played a huge part in the construction of many of the city’s landmark buildings.

Earl Bishop Hervey (1730 – 1803) was one of the key figures in creating the built heritage of the city, the legacy of which can be still seen today.

Bishop Hervey was instrumental in the construction of its first bridge over the Foyle, and contributed a large sum to the building of the Long Tower Chapel.

He also refurbished the Bishop’s Palace (now the Masonic Hall in Bishop Street) and had the first spire built on St Columb’s Cathedral, and also constructed a cliff top residence at Downhill and Mussenden Temple, both popular destinations for visitors.

Now, the Derry based U3A  (University of the Third Age) group has produced the ‘Hervey Trail’, an easy to use leaflet with maps setting out places to visit associated with the Bishop stretch from city to the Giant’s Causeway.

Commenting, a spokesperson for the group said that leaflet would now allow people to follow in the footsteps of a man who was ‘ahead of his time’.

“To say Bishop Frederick Augustus Hervey was a man ahead of his time doesn’t begin to do him justice,” the spokesperson said.

“His influence as a scientist, philanthropist, builder, patron of the arts and proponent of religious tolerance was enormous.
“Two centuries after his passing, his legacy can now be explored in Derry City and along the north coast to the Giant’s Causeway.

“He was first person to recognise the Giant Causeway’s enormous potential as a tourist attraction. Fascinated by volcanoes, he explored its possible origins and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of this work.

“From there, the trail moves to Downhill where he built his splendid residence and Mussenden Temple in their magnificent cliff top settings.
“The trail continues around the coast towards Derry, taking in churches and many points of interest along the way and it also includes the Bishop’s Road with its magnificent viewpoints.”

It has been produced by the Causeway and Foyle branches of the U3A with support from The National Trust, the Honourable the Irish Society and Edwin May Nissan and Volkswagen dealers.

It is available now at National Trust properties in the area, from the Castlerock Community Association, Limavady District Council and also from the U3A.

In the future U3A members hope to develop their project by producing a booklet and website augmenting leaflet with additional information.

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