Derrie Danders Walking and Audio Tours: Meet David Douglas

Are you a Derry native?

irelandonabudget.comYes – born and bred here, and lived all my life here apart from 7.5 years when I lived in Belfast to attend Queen’s University and train as a chartered accountant.

How did you get started with Derrie Danders Walking Tours and have you always been involved in tourism?

No, I’ve only been involved in tourism since October 2018.

My work as an accountant took me around a lot of Europe and North America and I took the opportunity to visit the places where I was working, and while there, I usually did a walking tour or bus tour with local guides.

That started the germ of an idea that I could offer a good quality tour of my home city after retiring as an accountant. When my local FE college offered a tour guiding qualification as a night class, I took the chance and did it, and the next stage was to start my business, Derrie Danders in October 2018. The business is currently part-time but I plan to go full-time from 1st June 2022.

What were you hoping to achieve with your walking tours that would set them apart from other guided tours of the city?

I wanted to offer an in-depth historical walking tour of the city, free from any political bias. The term “dander” is a Scots Irish word for a leisurely walk with friends so that sums up my business.

a city at dusk City of Derry visitor pass
A view of Derry, also known as Londonderry. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

The name “Derrie” was the first anglicized version of the city’s name (after the Irish Doire) and precedes the current Derry or Londonderry debate and reinforces my politically neutral credentials.

Is Derry a good place for a walking tour? If so, why?

It is an excellent place, though I would say that, wouldn’t  I!!!!.
St. Columba's Heritage Centre is housed in a 19th-century school building on the grounds of the Long Tower Church, pictured above. The center traces the history of the monastery in Derry founded by Columba. Photo: Ardfern – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The inner city is very compact and it is just bursting with history from the establishment of the monastery in 542 AD to the present day.

What makes Derry different from other cities on the island of Ireland?

It’s the only completely walled city in Ireland for a start.
The old Cunningham shirt-making factory in Derry. Photo: Kenneth Allen, Creative Commons.

It has been through many turbulent times from the Plantation of Ulster to at least three sieges.

It was the largest city for shirt-making in the world in the late 19th century, a vital allied port during World War II, and of course the period of the Troubles from 1969 to 1994, as well as the current peace process.

Also, the people, the sense of humor – “Derry Girls” is an example of this.

How long is a typical guided tour with Derrie Danders?

A typical tour for Derrie Danders is 2 hours.
David Douglas, center, with visitors on one of his tours. Photo: Derry Danders Walking and Audio Tours.

However, I can customize my tours to a shortened 1-hour introductory tour or do half-day or full-day tours to incorporate visits to local museums and attractions.

I see that your tours are politically neutral and historically accurate. What exactly do you cover on the tours and do people ask about the Troubles anyway and how they affected the city?

I cover the “whole history” of the city in a factual manner, without putting a political slant on these facts.

That includes the key periods of the establishment of the monastery; the plantation of Ulster and the building of the City Walls; the Great Siege of 1688-89; the industrial development, including shipbuilding, shirts, and emigration; the Second World War, and the Troubles.
The cannons on Derry City Walls. Photo: Gardiner Mitchell, Tourism Ireland.

I tell this history as we do a clockwise walk around the City Walls.

People do ask about the Troubles and I can answer this genuinely, as I lived through them as a schoolchild and adult in the city. However, it was only an approximate 25 years of our history since 542 AD so that’s the context of how they fit into my tours.

Also, I prefer to focus on the peace process and what Phil Coulter describes as the “bright new day” in his famous song. I also can do tours on the subjects of Musical Heritage, Shirt Factories, Scots Irish connections, Blue Plaques, and I’m currently designing an “Inspirational Women of the Walled City Tour.”

I also offer a “Wonders of the Waterside tour” which covers this less-visited but up and coming area of the city which will have a new hotel and maritime museum in the next few years, plus a “Street Art and Murals Tour” which looks at some of the newer murals and street art in the city, as well as the traditional murals too.

Since Derry Girls is such a huge hit across the world, do you get questions about that too? And do you think that the success of the show has drawn tourists to the area?

Definitely. I have had many tourists who tell me that they added the city to their visit to Ireland, just because of the Derry Girls.
Two visitors who took David's tour of the city posing in front of the newly updated Derry Girls mural. Photo: Derrie Danders Walking and Audio Tours.

Game of Thrones also brings a lot of people to the North Coast too, and then they come into the city from there.

Can you give me an idea of the kinds of people who take your tours and where they might be from?

All kinds and ages really. Probably the most common type is the small group of friends or family who would be classed as “culturally curious” and want a more detailed historical tour as part of a longer visit, rather than a quick stop on the way through.

I see that you offer custom-designed tours, day trips, and history talks. Can you tell me more about that?

I have a wide historical knowledge and above I have made reference to some of the subjects that I cover already.

a man in front of a building derrie danders
David Douglas is pictured in the city of his birth. Photo: Derry Danders Walking and Audio Tours.

I can cut and paste these into a specific tour on request or also explore subject matters that interest visitors.

My Blue Plaques Tour came out of a request for a customized tour and my Scots-Irish Tour links in well with people researching their genealogy from that background in the city and East Donegal. I can offer history talks to groups as well.

Do you collaborate with other tourism businesses in the city or region?

Yes, I do and believe strongly in collaboration. I have strong connections with the other businesses through my membership of Visit Derry and other guides through Tour Guides NI.

How can people access your audio tours? Will they give people a taste of what you offer in person?

Exactly. I see the audio tours as an introduction both to the city for people who are short on time or need flexibility, but also to me and my real tours. I would hope they would then be stimulated to contact me and arrange a real tour.

an orange-colored building Derrie Danders
The beautiful Guildhall building in Derry. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

The tours are available on the Voice Map App platform which can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Stores. Prices vary between tours but are low cost.

You can listen to the first 3 tracks of each tour for free before you have to purchase. There are 5 routes in English around the city, also a French-language version, and a Spanish version currently in production.

Seeing that budget is the focus of this website, would you consider your guided walks and tours affordable?

I think you get what you pay for in life. Price is an important consideration, but also the quality of the experience is where people get real value for their money.

man talking to people Derrie Danders
David Douglas leading a tour in Derry. Photo: Derry Danders Walking and Audio Tours.

The audio tours are very affordable. Purchase direct through VoiceMap the publisher, or for bulk purchases, I can arrange a deal with the publisher for you.

For individuals, couples, families, or groups of up to 15 people, the price of a private tour is £160 per group, which works out at £20-£85 per person, depending on the group size. I try to limit my group sizes to a max of 15 to maintain quality, but I can do shorter routes for larger group tours and also bus hop-on tours too.

How can followers of Ireland on a Budget find more information on Derrie Danders walking tours and other tourism offerings?

My website is which is the main place. My phone number and e-mail address are listed there.

I’m also on all the key social media sites too including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

I encourage people to “Linger longer in Londonderry” and enjoy a “Dander around Derry” with Derrie Danders Walking and Audio Tours, of course.