as promised, a bit on the Siege of Derry.
ultimately, the Glorious Revolution in England ousted Catholic James II from power in favor of Protestant William of Orange and his wife Mary (James’ daughter), but in the meantime there was a bit of a “revolution” to determine who would gain power. when William & Mary took power, James fled but eventually returned by way of Ireland, hoping to reclaim his title through garnering support of Catholic Ireland. as he approached Derry, the city “fathers” dithered about what course of action to take … until a group of apprentice boys took it upon themselves to shut the gates of the city, closing the city off from advancing Jacobite forces attempting to take the city. the city was under siege for 105 days, during which time as much as half the population living within the walls died.
eventually, the forces of William of Orange were able to breach the blockade on the River Foyle and get supplies to the defenders of the Walled City of Derry, essentially defeating the Jacobite forces to the west. the conflict wasn’t over, but the remainder of the engagements between Jacobite and Orange troops did not go well for James, whose death knell came at the Battle of the Boyne, on the River Boyne north of Dublin and whose valley is home to many more monuments spanning millennium.
every year, the Protestants of Derry celebrate the efforts of the Apprentice Boys, who closed the gates of Derry to the adavancing Jacobite forces, with marches similar to those of the Orange Order elsewhere in the north of Ireland. these marches do not sit well with the Catholic community (and led to more than one confrontation during the Troubles); they go along the city walls and are highly visible from the Bogside and other Catholic areas to the west of the city walls. these marches were a threatening reminder of repression and centuries of abuse and disenfranchisement. as previously mentioned, the Apprentice Boys march in 1969 led directly to the Battle of the Bogside and establishment of Free Derry. the marches continue, though the scale of violence seen in 1969 went unrepeated (at least during the marching season). doesn’t mean the marches aren’t crass or designed to be threatening.