Road sign in Northern Ireland with the reference to London
According to the city's Royal Charter of 10 April 1662, the official name is "Londonderry". This was reaffirmed in a High Court decision in 2007 when Derry City Council sought guidance on the procedure for effecting a name change. The council had changed its name from "Londonderry City Council" to "Derry City Council" in 1984; the court case was seeking clarification as to whether this had also changed the name of the city. The decision of the court was that it had not but it was clarified that the correct procedure to do so was via a petition to the Privy Council. Derry City Council since started this process and were involved in conducting an equality impact assessment report (EQIA). Firstly it held an opinion poll of district residents in 2009, which reported that 75% of Catholics and 77% of Nationalists found the proposed change acceptable, compared to 6% of Protestants and 8% of Unionists. Then the EQIA held two consultative forums, and solicited comments from the general public on whether or not the city should have its name changed to Derry. A total of 12,136 comments were received, of which 3,108 were broadly in favour of the proposal, and 9,028 opposed to it. On 23 July 2015, the council voted in favour of a motion to change the official name of the city to Derry and to write to Mark H. Durkan, Northern Ireland Minister of the Environment, to ask how the change could be effected.
Despite the official name, the city is more usually known as "Derry", which is an anglicisation of the Irish Daire or Doire, and translates as "oak-grove/oak-wood". The name derives from the settlement's earliest references, Daire Calgaich ("oak-grove of Calgach"). The name was changed from Derry in 1613 during the Plantation of Ulster to reflect the establishment of the city by the London guilds.
The name "Derry" is preferred by nationalists and it is broadly used throughout Northern Ireland's Catholic community, as well as that of the Republic of Ireland, whereas many unionists prefer "Londonderry"; however in everyday conversation Derry is used by most Protestant residents of the city. Linguist Kevin McCafferty argues that "It is not, strictly speaking, correct that Northern Ireland Catholics call it Derry, while Protestants use the Londonderry form, although this pattern has become more common locally since the mid-1980s, when the city council changed its name by dropping the prefix". In McCafferty's survey of language use in the city, "only very few interviewees—all Protestants—use the official form".
Apart from the name of Derry City Council, the city is usually known as Londonderry in official use within the UK. In the Republic of Ireland, the city and county are almost always referred to as Derry, on maps, in the media and in conversation. In April 2009, however, the Republic of Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, announced that Irish passport holders who were born there could record either Derry or Londonderry as their place of birth. Whereas official road signs in the Republic use the name Derry, those in Northern Ireland bear Londonderry (sometimes abbreviated to "L'Derry"), although some of these have been defaced with the reference to London obscured. Usage varies among local organisations, with both names being used. Examples are City of Derry Airport, City of Derry Rugby Club, Derry City FC and the Protestant Apprentice Boys of Derry, as opposed to Londonderry Port, Londonderry YMCA Rugby Club and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. The bishopric has always remained that of Derry, both in the (Protestant, formerly-established) Church of Ireland (now combined with the bishopric of Raphoe), and in the Roman Catholic Church. Most companies within the city choose local area names such as Pennyburn, Rosemount or "Foyle" from the River Foyle to avoid alienating the other community. Londonderry railway station is often referred to as Waterside railway station within the city but is called Derry/Londonderry at other stations. The council changed the name of the local government district covering the city to Derry on 7 May 1984, consequently renaming itself Derry City Council. This did not change the name of the city, although the city is coterminous with the district, and in law the city council is also the "Corporation of Londonderry" or, more formally, the "Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Londonderry". The form "Londonderry" is used for the post town by the Royal Mail, however use of Derry will still ensure delivery.
The city is also nicknamed the Maiden City by virtue of the fact that its walls were never breached despite being besieged on three separate occasions in the 17th century, the most notable being the Siege of Derry of 1688-89. It is also nicknamed Stroke City by local broadcaster, Gerry Anderson, due to the 'politically correct' use of the oblique notation Derry/Londonderry (which appellation has itself been used by BBC Television). A recent addition to the landscape has been the erection of several large stone columns on main roads into the city welcoming drivers, euphemistically, to "the walled city".
The name Derry is very much in popular use throughout Ireland for the naming of places, and there are at least six towns bearing that name and at least a further 79 places. The word Derry often forms part of the place name, for example Derrybeg, Derryboy, Derrylea and Derrymore.
The names Derry and Londonderry are not limited to Ireland. There is a town called Derry situated right beside another town called Londonderry in New Hampshire in the United States. There are also Londonderrys in Yorkshire, England, in Vermont, United States, in Nova Scotia, Canada, and in northern and eastern Australia. Londonderry Island is situated off Tierra del Fuego in Chile.
Derry is also a fictional town in Maine, United States, used in some Stephen King novels.