Northern Ireland

Protestant enclave once a thriving community

The Fountain estate on Derry's cityside. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
The Fountain estate on Derry's cityside. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

ONCE home to more than 1,500 Protestant people, the Fountain Estate on Derry's west bank has seen that population shrink by 80 per cent over the decades.

Pre-Troubles, there were four Catholic pubs in the area and residents mixed freely with their Bogside neighbours in what was a thriving community.

Grocery stores and shops were also part of the hub - today they are all gone and less than 300 people have homes there.

As sectarian attacks intensified, the Fountain became a Protestant working class enclave that was a no-go for nationalists.

One side of the hillside housing development is shaded by the Derry's famous walls while the other is protected by a huge peace wall.

Surrounding the entire Fountain area are Union flags, Northern Ireland flags and CCTV cameras.

The community that remains has put together walking tours highlighting the history and spirit of the area.

The Fountain contains some significant landmarks.

The Apprentice Angel sculpture symbolises the Apprentice Boys' locking of the city gates during the 1689 Seige of Derry. A large key on the back of the sculpture - moulded from the original key used in the Seige - is on display in the nearby St. Columb's Cathedral.

Despite the dramatic drop in its number of residents, the interface has been repeatedly targeted in sectarian attacks during contentious periods - with residents saying that a "siege mentality" still exists.