CAIN Web Service

'Remembering the siege of Derry: the rise of a popular religious and political tradition, 1689-1989' by Brian Walker (2001)

[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
COMMEMORATION: [Menu] [Reading] [Summary] [Background] [Chronology] [Main_Pages] [Sources]

Text: Brian Walker ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh

The following chapter has been contributed by the author Brian Walker, with the permission of the publisher, Four Courts Press, and the editor William Kelly. The views expressed in this chapter do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.
This chapter is taken from the book:

The Sieges of Derry
edited by William Kelly (2001)
ISBN 1-85182-510-X (hardback) 144pp £

Orders to local Bookshops, or:

Four Courts Press {external_link}
7 Malpas Street
Dublin 8
Tel: + 353 1 453 4668
Fax: + 353 1 453 4672
Web: {external_link}

Jacket design by Terry Foley.
Images courtesy of Derry City Council.

This publication is copyright Brian Walker (2001) and is included on the CAIN site by permission of Four Courts Press, the editor, and the author. You may not edit, adapt, or redistribute changed versions of this for other than your personal use without express written permission. Redistribution for commercial purposes is not permitted.

From the back cover:

Few events in Irish history have generated such an output of writing, reaction and controversy as the siege of Derry in 1689 In fact the events 4 those months still resonate in modern politics. Controversies over commemorations of the siege have often resulted in violence on the streets of Derry and elsewhere. This volume of essays seeks to explore these events and their profound impact on the literature, history, politics, and popular culture of Ireland. Given the breadth of material and timespan, this series of essays is as much a contribution to our understanding of some of the, most intractable problems of modern Ireland as it is to our knowledge of events in the seventeenth century, events which still inspire popular mythology and inform the ideology of Ulster Unionism.




  Introduction: the siege: myth and reality
TG. Fraser



Siege, myth and history: Derry 1688-1998
Jim Smyth



The forgotten siege of Derry, March-August 1649
WP Kelly



The Scottish response to the siege of Londonderry, 1689-90
John R. Young



The strange enigma of Oliver Goldsmith
Robert Welch



Three drunken nights and a hangover: the siege, the Apprentice Boys and Irish national identity, 1779-80
Breandan Mac Suibhne



‘We have a strong city’: politicised Protestantism, evangelicalism and the siege myth in early nineteenth-century Derry
Mark McGovern



Remembering the siege of Derry: the rise of a popular religious and political tradition, 1689-1989
Brian Walker



Remembering the siege of Derry:
the rise of a popular religious and
political tradition, 1689-1989

Brian Walker


Commemoration of the siege of Derry, 1688-9, is an important annual concern for many Protestant and Unionist people today in Northern Ireland. Well-attended parades, church services and other ceremonies are held in Derry on two special dates every year. On or near 12 August the relief of the city at the end of the siege is recalled while on or near 18 December the closing of the city gates at the beginning of the siege is remembered. These acts of commemoration are attended not just by citizens of the city but by people from many parts of Northern Ireland. Supporters come from County Donegal as well as from Canada and Great Britain. In recent years there has been controversy and conflict over the parades in Derry and also over the parades of supporters in Belfast and Dunloy, County Antrim, on their way to Derry. This article will explore these commemorative events and will seek to explain why and when they have come to play such an important part in the annual religious and political calendar of Northern Ireland. Special attention will be paid to the role of the organisation of Apprentice Boys of Derry in the demonstrations.

Many commentators have remarked on the significance of the siege of Derry and these annual commemorations for the Protestant and Unionist community. It has been claimed that ‘ever since’ 1689 there has been significant celebration of the event in a manner similar to that experienced today.' Jonathan Bardon, in his history of Ulster, has written: ‘For the Protestants of Ulster this epic defence gave inspiration for more than three centuries to come.’2 In a reference to various dates in the Protestant historical calendar, such as the rebellion of 1641 and the battle of the Bovne of 1690, the social anthropologist, Dr Anthony Buckley, has commented: ‘Of all these historical events, the siege has the greatest symbolic significance.’3 In his book Despatches from Belfast, journalist David McKittrick has remarked about the siege: ‘In three centuries it has never lost its potency and immediacy as a symbol for unionists, for they believe that the enemy is forever at the gate, waiting for the sentry to fall asleep.’4 Derry historian Brian Lacey in Siege city: the story of Derry and Londonderry has described how ‘particularly since the early nineteenth century, the siege of Derry has provided a parable and a vocabulary for describing the Ulster Protestant condition’.5

From these comments and the evidence of the ongoing annual parades in Derry, it is clear that the siege and its commemoration play a vital part in contemporary Northern Ireland. Questions remain, however, about these popular celebrations. Has the siege always been remembered in the way that it is today and have these celebrations always enjoyed such wide support? What do we know about the origins of traditions associated with the commemoration of the siege, such as the burning of an effigy of the traitor, Lundy? The clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry are responsible now for running the annual events but it will be valuable to know how long they have performed this role? How has support grown for the Apprentice Boys since their formation? Why do the celebrations remain important today for large numbers of the population of Northern Ireland? This paper will seek to answer these questions. The subject of the reaction from Catholic and nationalist quarters to the commemorations will not be investigated here: as regards the nineteenth century this matter is well covered in Tom Fraser’s article on the Derry celebrations.6

The role of the siege in Protestant culture from the late seventeenth to the twentieth centuries has been the subject of a number of modern studies. Sam Burnside has looked at how the siege has been celebrated in drama, verse and prose.7 Ian McBride has examined early efforts to commemorate the siege and has analysed tensions within the Protestant community over this matter.8 He has shown how divisions existed between Presbyterians and members of the Church of Ireland until the 1880s when he believes that a broad Protestant consensus emerged and the annual commemorations in Derry began to draw on increasing support throughout Ulster, thanks to the efforts of the Clubs of the Apprentice boys of Derry. This present study will concentrate on growth of support for the commemorations from the 1880s, although attention will also focus on the earlier period in order to highlight the great changes of the later period. McBride’s book spends little time on developments after the 1880s and there is no detailed study of the growth of these commemorations in the last one hundred years, apart from some useful studies of a number of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Clubs, written by Derry local historian, C.D. Milligan, in the decade 1945-55.9



For most of the first too years after the siege, it seems that public commemoration of events, 1688-9, was spasmodic and without wide support. The earliest, reliable, evidence of celebration of the siege in the eighteenth century is an entry in the diary of Dr William Nicolson, bishop of Derry, 1718-27, written on 1 August 1718, the anniversary (under the old calendar) of the ending of the siege: ‘I read prayers (first and second services) at Londonderry: Col. Michelburne’s bloody flag being hoisted the first time, on the steeple. Evening, splendid treat in the tholsel, fireworks and illuminations.'10 Over the next half century, there are few references to the event: sources are limited due to the absence of a Derry newspaper until the 1770s. There is no evidence of popular commemoration of the siege, but there are records of occasional services or dinners in honour of the event.11 This lack of support for commemoration of the siege is probably due in part to bitter Presbyterian/Anglican conflict which emerged locally immediately after the siege and which was heightened by early eighteenth-century legislation against Presbyterians, such as the Test Act of 1704 which banned them from the corporation until 1780.12 By the last decades of the century such intra-Protestant rivalry had eased but not ceased.

Reports in the local press in the 1770s confirm that there had been some earlier celebrations of the siege but also that these had lapsed and were only renewed at this stage. In August 1772 the Londonderry Journal carried a resolution from a local guild which declared gratitude to the city’s mayor because he had ‘revived’ the ‘ancient custom of commemorating the equally glorious and memorable deliverance of this city ...'13 The newspaper describes the scene in Derry on the 1st of August, when the bells were rung, the flag was displayed on the cathedral steeple and the mayor, corporation and freemen processed to a service at the cathedral, followed later by a dinner and other festivities. The mayor declined to assemble the citizens for the August commemoration in 1773; thereafter this event was marked annually. Until 1775, the anniversary of the shutting of the gates was a matter of ‘private conviviality’ but from this date it became a public event: in December 1788 an effigy of the traitor Lundy was burned for the first time.14 By the 1770s there is evidence of the involvement of clubs or societies of local citizens, which can be seen as forerunners of the nineteenth-century Apprentice Boys clubs, although in the late eighteenth century they usually met privately to celebrate the siege, were often short-lived and played a minor role in the celebrations, organised normally by the corporation. From the mid-1770s units of local volunteer corps and the city garrison joined the commemorations.

In 1788 and 1789 there were important centenary anniversary commemorations.15 In early December 1788 the closing of the gates was remembered by special church services in both the cathedral and a Presbyterian church, followed by a civic procession, a military parade and the burning of Lundy. It also involved a special dinner, attended by town dignitaries as well as Catholic clergy. In August 1789 commemoration of the breaking of the boom and the relief of the city included a sizeable procession to the cathedral which involved not only the members of the corporation but the Catholic bishop and his clergy, as well as the Presbyterian clergy and elders. On both these occasions the siege was commemorated as a great blow against tyranny which brought liberty to people of all Christian denominations. At the service in the cathedral in August the preacher, the Revd George Vaughan Sampson, urged that the message from the example of their forefathers was not just ‘Glory be to God in the highest’ but also ‘on earth, peace, goodwill towards men’.16 In the atmosphere of late eighteenth-century Ireland, with the rise of a tolerant Irish patriotism, events of 1688-9 were seen as part of the Glorious Revolution with its constitutional benefits for all, embracing Presbyterians and members of the Church of Ireland, and Protestants and Catholics.17



The next half century witnessed significant changes in how the siege was commemorated in Derry. The closing of the gates in December became a more popular event to be celebrated than the ending of the siege in August. Military units from the city garrison played a part in the celebrations until the 1820s, when their participation ended, due to government policy not to be involved in events which were seen as partisan: locally raised units of volunteers, such as yeomanry, continued to parade on these occasions until the I830s.18 A monument, consisting of a column and statue, in honour of the siege governor, the Revd George Walker, was erected in the late 1820s. There is some evidence of Catholic involvement in the celebrations in the early years of the nineteenth century but this had stopped by the 1830s.19 Reflecting the rise of Protestant / Catholic tension in Ireland in the early nineteenth century, the siege came to be seen increasingly as a Protestant symbol.20 Some Protestants, such as the editor of the Londonderry Standard (founded in 1832), continued to view the siege as a victory of liberty for all, but the commemorations in Derry by the 1830s were dominated by those who regarded the siege solely as a Protestant victory.

By the 1830s the civic authorities were no longer involved (except on special occasions) in the annual commemorations which were now run by clubs of Apprentice Boys. The first nineteenth-century club of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (so named after the apprentice boys who shut the city gates in the face of the forces of James II in 1688) was formed in 1813. It was based, however, in Dublin and drew its support from well-off supporters of the Union who had an interest in Derry; while it survived until the early twentieth century it met privately in Dublin and had little or no influence in Derry.21 In 1824 the No Surrender Club of Apprentice Boys was formed in Derry. The Ordnance Survey memoirs recorded in the early 1830s the existence of three such clubs in the city, but noted that they were losing influence and would ‘doubtless become gradually extinct’.22 In 1835 a new club with the broad name of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club was founded in Derry. The first rule of the club declared the aim of celebrating the anniversary of the siege while the second stated that in the formation of the club, members were not ‘actuated by factions or sectarian feeling, which we consider would be at variance with the cause of civil and religious liberty, the celebration of its establishment being the special purpose for which our society was instituted’.23

Celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the siege were markedly low key, compared with the centenary. In December 1838, the closing of the gates was marked only by the flying of flags, a salvo of guns, the burning of Lundy and a ‘bottle and glass’ party in the corporation hall, presided over by the sheriff. It was noted that no Catholics were present and most of the Protestants were of the ‘humbler class’.24 ‘Bottle and glass parties’ were a common feature of celebrations in this period and involved participants bringing their own alcohol: they were replaced by more respectable tea-drinking parties and soirees in the 1840s.25 None of the Derry papers gave much coverage to the August celebrations in 1839, which involved a short march of some Apprentice Boys together with supporters from Enniskillen, and which seems to have been poorly supported.26 The Belfast press carried no reports at all of the occasion.

The following fifty years saw the transformation of the popularity of these commemorations and of the fortunes of the Apprentice Boys. A number of new clubs were formed and these proved to be longer lasting and better organised than their predecessors. While the No Surrender Club and the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club were the only Derry-based clubs to survive from the pre-1839 period, new clubs formed in honour of heroes of the siege were the Walker Club (1844), the Murray Club (1847), the Mitchelburne Club (1845, revived 1854) and the Browning Club (1854, revived 1876).27 The growth of the clubs in the 1840s and 1850s probably reflects the local scene where a rise in the number of Catholic inhabitants meant that by the 1850s Protestants were no longer a majority in the city.28 Around 1859 a general committee was established to co-ordinate the clubs and the celebrations. The post of governor, as head of the committee and the clubs, was created in 1867 although it lapsed in 1871 and was then restored in 1876. The clubs were Derry -based and before the late 1880s it seems that most members were born or lived in Derry.29 Club rules, as in the case of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club did not exclude outsiders, but since membership required all members to attend club meetings once a month this made it difficult for people outside Derry to retain membership.30

By the late 1850s, commemorations in Derry were well-attended, a situation which reflected more than just a rise in local interest. As Aiken McClelland has pointed out, crucial to the rise in popularity for these events was the arrival of the railway in Derry.31 The opening of the Derry / Coleraine line in 1852 and the Derry / Strabane line in 1854 meant that many more people could now attend the demonstrations. The Party Processions Act which banned political parades, 1850-71, did not prevent these commemorations because they were seen as civic rather than political events and the marchers avoided using political banners and party tunes, although there was conflict on a number of occasions in this period between Apprentice Boys and the authorities as well as Derry Catholic residents over some of the ceremonies connected with the anniversaries of the siege. The press in the late 1850s and 1860s recorded the attendance at the celebrations of substantial numbers of visitors, both on-lookers and participants.32 William Johnston, elected to parliament in 1868 as an independent Protestant Conservative candidate for Belfast, attended regularly from 1860.33 By the 1870s the August celebrations had become more popular than those in December. By this period, while membership of clubs was restricted mainly to Derry residents, a category of honorary membership had grown up, in spite of opposition from at least one club.34

An important stage in the development of the organisation of Apprentice Boys clubs was the opening of a purpose built hail in Derry in 1877 for the use of all the clubs. The idea of such a centre was first floated in the late 1860s, the foundation stone was laid in 1873 and five years later a hail, in memory of the original Apprentice Boys of the siege, was opened. Costing £3,250, the new Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall provided a meeting place for all the clubs, a room for initiation services into the movement and an assembly hail for speeches after 12 August church service. A contemporary newspaper account described the new hall as ‘in the style prevalent in the fortified and baronial residences of Scotland and this northern province in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, chosen as being most suitable to its memorial character, and the events with which it is associated’.35 In 1877 the general committee of the associated clubs adopted a common form of initiation service for all new club members.36 The order of precedence of the clubs in the annual parades was decided by the 1880s, after considerable debate. A march of clubs around the walls and the firing of cannon, along with the cathedral service, were regular features of the 12 August commemorations. In 1888-9 the bicentenary of the siege was marked by extensive celebrations which involved not only the Apprentice Boys but also the corporation. The usual commemoration ceremonies were well attended and other features of the event in August included a mock breaking of the boom, in repeat of this action 200 years earlier. These occurrences involved both Apprentice Boys clubs and many visitors.37

While most of the customs and practices associated with the siege commemorations, which are evident in the twentieth century, were in place by this stage, it must be stressed that the extent of popular involvement was still limited. Evidence given in 1869 to an enquiry about riots in Derry revealed that total membership of all six Apprentice Boys clubs in that year stood at only around 300 ordinary members and 200 honorary members, while a letter of 1867 from J.C. Ferguson, Governor of the Apprentice Boys Clubs, appealing for funds for the new hall, referred to ‘300 active members’38. A newspaper account in the IVorthern Whig 13 August 1870, described the August parade as totalling about 1,000, including 200 Apprentice boys and bands. Numbers had probably grown by the bicentenary but since full membership was still confined largely to Derry residents it is unlikely that the total of Apprentice Boys had increased significantly. Considerable numbers of people from the surrounding countryside and further afield did come to view or even to join the parade but they were not involved formally. Attempts were made in the 1870s to establish clubs outside the city but these met with rejection from the general committee of the Apprentice Boys: ‘no charter will be granted for use outside the city of Londonderry'.39 By 1889, however, the important decision had been taken to allow the establishment of external local clubs, although at the bicentenarv celebrations it seems that only a small number of such clubs was in existence.40

As regards the composition of the Apprentice Boys’ clubs in this period, we may note the comment of the Londonderry Sentinel editorial about the August 1889 bicentenary celebration that it was ‘emphatically a people’s commemoration’ with few ‘prominent leaders’.41 William Johnston MP was one of the few Unionist leaders involved regularly in these annual events in Derry.42 The government enquiry of the late 1860s had revealed that the Apprentice Boys’ clubs were made up mainly of ‘respectable tradesmen’, were generally supportive of the conservative party in Derry and included both Presbyterians and members of the Church of Ireland.43 Efforts in the 1860s to alternate the August anniversary service between the Church of Ireland cathedral and a Presbyterian church foundered when First Derry Presbyterian church refused to allow the clubs to bring their banners into the church: after this the cathedral was the main site for these services.44 Many middle class Derry Presbyterians supported the liberal party in the late 1860s and although this party collapsed in Derry in the early 1870s there is little evidence of their active involvement in the commemorations. Liberalism remained strong among rural Presbyterians in County Londonderry and elsewhere in Ulster until the 1885-6 general elections when most former liberals and conservatives joined a new Unionist movement.45 Nonetheless, even in the late i880s there is no sign of new, mass Presbyterian involvement in the siege celebrations or the Apprentice Boys clubs. The main Presbyterian liberal paper in Ulster, the Northern Whig, gave the August 1889 bicentenary events a mere six inches of column space, in contrast to the extensive coverage in the Belfast Newsletter.46

Commemoration of the siege in places outside Derry and by organisations other than Apprentice Boys Clubs should be considered. A survey of the contemporary press does reveal some celebration of the event in a range of places in Ulster in the half century between the 250th anniversary and the bicentenary in 1889. We read of instances such as an Orange dinner in Belfast on i8 December 1855 to mark the relief of the city (sic), an Orange demonstration near Lurgan on 12 August 1873 to celebrate the siege and the burning of effigies of Lundy in Lame on 18 December 1886.47 Sometimes the 12th of August was used as the occasion for special Orange events such as the opening of an Orange hail, as in Portadown in 1875.48 During these years, however, the celebrations were neither commonplace, widely supported nor organised annually. The major exception was in County Fermanagh where on 12 August, from the 1840s, the siege of Derry was commemorated frequently along with the battle of Newtownbutler (anniversary also 12 August) and other Fermanagh events of the 1688-9 wars.49 At the bicentenary of the siege on 12 August 1889 there were major Orange celebrations only in Fintona, County Tyrone, and Kesh, County Fermanagh.50 The attendance at Kesh was described as large, with a special train bringing brethren from Counties Tyrone and Donegal as well as County Fermanagh, but numbers were much lower than in Derry. One of the speakers at Kesh declared that ‘They were descendants of the men who stood upon Derry’s walls and who fought at the battles of Newtownbutier and Lisnaskea, and who manned the banks of the Erne. The descendants of these men would never let themselves be trampled upon.’51

Clearly then, the half century 1839-89 witnessed important change in the popularity of the siege celebrations and in the role and membership of the Apprentice Boys clubs. Demographic factors in Derry probably added this development while the improvement of transport facilities was a significant economic element which helped to open up the event to supporters from a much wider field than would have been possible before. The fact that Orange marches were banned during the 1850s and 1860s, while siege commemoration parades were allowed in Derry, may help to explain the rise in popularity of the latter. The continued growth in support for the celebrations in the 1870s and 1880s reflected undoubtedly the rise in political excitement and the emergence of unionist / nationalist confrontation throughout Ireland in this period. All this helped to give a new relevance to the story of the siege, especially to Derry Protestants. But until the late 1880s these annual commemorations had an appeal to only a limited number of people, as reflected in the small extent of siege celebrations outside Derry (even in 1889), the relatively low number of outside participants at the Derry events and, particularly, the limited membership of the Apprentice Boys clubs. The decision of the general committee of the Apprentice Boys in the late 1880s to allow the setting up of local branches of the clubs was a momentous one. It meant that whereas the Derry siege had become a special symbol for many Protestant residents of Derry, it could now become one for others elsewhere. Why the decision to allow this was taken at this stage is not clear. Perhaps, because of the emergence of strong national parties and the major issue of home rule, Derry unionists now saw themselves as part of the broader scene and members of the larger unionist and Protestant community. This decision would have major consequences for the level of broader involvement in the siege celebrations.



The half century after the bicentenary celebrations witnessed a dramatic growth in the amount of popular support for the commemorations in Derry and the Apprentice Boys’ clubs. The key to this change was the decision, taken in the 1880s, to allow the Derry-based clubs (now known as parent clubs) to establish branch clubs outside the city. All members continued to be initiated within Derry’s walls. No annual returns are available for the total membership of the Apprentice Boys’ clubs but a good idea of the growth of the movement can be gained from newspaper accounts of the number of clubs and the figures of annual initiation. For the period 1889-1939 it is usually possible to obtain from newspapers accurate information on the names and numbers of the clubs. Annual figures for total numbers initiated are difficult to find in the early period 1889-1923, because members of the various clubs were initiated at different times of the year, but from 1923 there were usually combined initiations for all club members at the August commemorations and so reliable figures of numbers initiated are often, but not always, available in the press post 1923. Rarely in this period does the press record figures for the number on parade or the total number present.

Initially, and perhaps surprisingly, the growth of these branch clubs was slow. At the August 1889 celebrations, 3 branch clubs, all from Belfast, joined the parade.52 By August 1900 there were present at the August commemorations just 8 branch clubs (4 from Belfast, 2 from County Antrim, 1 from County Armagh and 1 from County Down), although this meant that there were now more branch than parent clubs (7 in I900).53 Celebrations in August 1914 for the 225th anniversary of the siege saw a low turn-out because of transport restrictions due to the war situation in Europe.54 Two years earlier, however, the August parade included 1 branch clubs, of which there were 6 from Belfast, 3 County Antrim, 1 County Armagh, 5 County Down and 2 County Londonderry.55 Clubs received a charter when no less than 13 members had been admitted to full membership of the Apprentice Boys; initiation had to occur within Derry’s walls. In this period the December celebrations were confined to parent clubs.56 Records for the clubs in the period 1900-14 show that a small number of branch clubs was established in Canada and Scotland.57 From 1911 the general committee of Apprentice Boys clubs was allowed to nominate six members to the Ulster Unionist Council.58 During the war the annual commemorations continued, although in a reduced form.

In 1920 riots in Derry led to all parades being banned but the usual church services were attended by members of the Apprentice Boys’ clubs.59 In 1923 a press report on the August parade recorded the presence of 1 branch clubs, a figure similar to club numbers present in 1912: upwards of 300 new members were initiated in August I923.60 From this time on, however, expansion in the number of clubs and initiations occurred rapidly. In 1924, for the first time, a Presbyterian minister preached in the cathedral at the August anniversary. The next day, the Northern Whig, unusually, devoted an editorial column to the celebrations, declaring that ‘every loyalist in the province loves and claims a patriotic interest in the stones of Derry’: this new degree of interest by the Northern Whig may be explained by the fear expressed in its editorial that under the threatened redrawing of the border Derry would be lost to the Free State.61 Following the erection of a war memorial in the Diamond in the 1920S, the laying of wreaths by the leading party in the parade became an important feature of the commemorations. From the early 1920s new members were initiated at a joint ceremony usually held during the August commemorations. In 1927 the Baker Club was revived so that there were now 7 parent clubs. Branch club numbers on parade at the August commemorations increased to 31 in 1924, 51 in 1930 and 80 in 1936. In 1924 several hundred new members were initiated but by 1936 annual initiations totalled 800.62 By 1939 the number of branch Clubs totalled 93 and 700 new members were initiated.63

Analysis of distribution of branches over this period reveals how the Apprentice Boys’ organisation spread throughout Northern Ireland. In August 1923 the 17 branch clubs came from the following areas: Belfast 6, County Antrim 2, County Armagh 2, County Down 2, County Londonderrv 3 and County Tvrone 2.64 The 51 branch clubs on parade in August 1930 belonged to Belfast 7, County Antrim 7, County Armagh 7, County Down 9, County Londonderry 8, County Tyrone 11 and County Donegal 2.65 By the 250th anniversary parade in August 1939 the 93 branch clubs were to be found in Belfast 7, County Antrim i6, County Armagh 10, County Down 18, County Fermanagh 2, County Londonderrv 13, County Tyrone 15, County Donegal 6, Scotland 4 and England 2.66 The sudden growth in Donegal branches in this decade is probably explained by the restrictions on Orange parades in Donegal post 1932. The Scottish branches came from Govan, Partick, Springburn and Glasgow while the English branches came from Liverpool and Birkenhead. These figures relate to the number of branches on parade and so may underestimate slightly the total number of clubs in existence, as some, especially from Canada and Scotland, may not always have attended.67

Although the number of clubs in Belfast during this period 1921-39 increased only by one after the founding of a Belfast branch of the newly revived Baker Club, their membership grew rapidly. In 1925 a charter was granted to create a Belfast and District Amalgamated Committee to co-ordinate the Belfast branches.68 In 1939 the Belfast branch of the Browning Club had 300 members on parade in Derry, the largest turn out of any club or branch.69 Plans were drawn up in this period to build a hall for the Belfast clubs, but this never materialised and the clubs continued to avail of Orange halls, as did all the other branch clubs.70 A Mid-Ulster Amalgamated Committee was in existence by the early 1930s. By the mid 1930s the Apprentice Boys’ organisation was holding parades on Easter Monday in different centres around Northern Ireland for parent and branch clubs.71 In 1936 the foundation stone for a large extension to the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall in Derry was laid by the city’s lord mayor, Captain J.M. Wilton.72 Costing £30,000, the new premises were opened in 1938 by Viscountess Craigavon to provide extensive additional accommodation which included a large assembly hall to seat nearly 2,000 people, rooms for the meetings of clubs and local Orange and Black lodges, and new social facilities. In this period we can note the initiation of some prominent politicians into the Apprentice Boys clubs, although apart from Derry politicians, they seem to have played little regular part in the commemorations. In 1933, for example, Dawson Bates, minister of home affairs in the Northern Ireland government and Price, attorney general of Toronto, were initiated into the Murray Club.73

Celebrations in Derry city in 1938-9 to mark the 250th anniversary of the siege were very extensive. The December 1938 commemoration of the closing of the gates was better attended than usual, with a special train bringing sup-porters from Belfast.74 The main emphasis for the 250th anniversary came at the 12 August 1939 demonstrations for the anniversary of the relief of the city. The Londonderry Sentinel reported that ‘all morning until noon, Apprentice Boys and their friends, who grow more numerous every year, poured into the city from every part of Northern Ireland and the border districts of Eire’.75 A total of 21 ordinary and special trains, about 100 buses and many cars brought upwards of 20,000 people to the city. The huge procession consisted of 100 Apprentice Boy Clubs (both parent and branch Clubs) and around 100 bands. At the service in the cathedral, the preacher was Dr James Little, a Presbyterian minister and Unionist MP for North Down. His sermon was primarily a religious one but he referred to current threats from the southern government and militant republicans:

To all who are seeking in one way or another to undermine our state we send today this message from the historic walls of Derry, that neither to politician nor terrorist will we ever consent to surrender any portion of the inheritance which God has entrusted to us.76

In its editorial the Londonderry Sentinel stressed the relevance of the siege in face of contemporary threats at home and abroad.77

An important feature of the half century following the bicentenary of the siege was the growth in celebration of the event in centres outside Derry on 12 August by organisations other than the Apprentice Boys. Whereas in August 1889 there were only important demonstrations in Kesh in County Fermanagh and in Fintona in County Tyrone, both organised by the Orange Order, by the early 1900s there were additional demonstrations in both counties and supporters from counties Donegal, Cavan, Londonderry, Armagh and Monaghan were involved, sometimes on their own and sometimes in joint demonstrations.78 By 1910, however, organisation of these 12 August anniversary celebrations was almost entirely run by preceptories of the Royal Black Order, rather than the Orange Order, although Orange lodges sometimes attended the parades. In 1910 on 12 August there were demonstrations not only at a number of centres in Tyrone and Fermanagh, but also Annaghmore, County Armagh and Cavan, County Cavan.79 During the 1920s and 1930s well attended demonstrations were held by the Royal Black Order on 12 August in different locations in south and mid Ulster.80 Post 1932 such parades ceased in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal due to local republican opposition but brethren from these counties attended parades in Northern Ireland.81 At the 250th anniversary of the siege on 12 August there were Black-run demonstrations in Cookstown, Drumquin, and Ballygawley, County Tyrone, and Irvinestown, County Fermanagh. Those attending came from all the nine Ulster counties, except Down and Antrim.82

The growth in support for the Apprentice Boys organisation and its celebrations in Derry, as well as parades elsewhere, clearly reflects the expanding significance of the Derry story in the new political and religious confrontation of post-1886 Ireland. The fact that the rise of such support was strongest after 1921 may be related to the new, exposed situation of Derry on the border of Northern Ireland. It may also be the result of a general rise in interest in this period in loyal orders, such as the Junior Orange Association, founded in 1925.83 It has been argued that support for the Orange Order declined in the period 1921-39, but it is possible that this was because individuals were joining other organisations, such as the Apprentice Boy s.84 While membership of the Apprentice Boys organisation was undoubtedly influenced by the political situation, the religious situation was also significant. By the 1920s the commemorations in Derry no longer included meetings for political speeches but centred largely on the religious services held in the cathedral. Increased support for the Derry parades may be seen as evidence of a growth in popular Protestantism, uniting different denominations, as well as a rise in political unionist activity. Interesting comment on the new pervasiveness of the Derry story can be found in the account of celebrations and anniversaries in the history of Enniskillen, written by W.C. Trimble and published in 1921.85 He claimed that Orangemen in Enniskillen on 12 July and 12 August ‘while they celebrate the deeds of other places, ignore the resolve of their own townsmen to close their East Bridge to King James’ soldiers in December 1688 and to their own great victory at Newtownbutler’. He hoped that his history would help to cure ‘this ignoring of the Enniskillen men by Enniskillen men.’



During the second world war the public celebrations of the siege in Derry were cancelled by the Apprentice Boys’ general committee. In August 1946, at the first peacetime demonstration since the war, a record number of 2,500 to ‘nearly 3,000’ members were initiated at ceremonies which, according to the Londonderry Sentinel, ‘continued from 9.00 a.m. till 5.00 p.m.’86 The Sentinel also noted that ‘over 10,000 free drinks were served by the Londonderry Temperance Council from thirteen specially erected stalls along the processional route’. In the same year it was reported that the procession contained 7,000 Apprentice Boys and 90 bands.87 In 1947 the preacher at the August cathedral service, the Revd J.G. MacManaway, MP and Church of Ireland clergyman, declared:

We in Ulster have our own Holy Place, our own religious shrine to which our history as Protestants forever joins us. The Protestant shrine of Protestant Ulster is forever Derry. We do not meet together to provoke anybody or criticise any man’s faith. But, just as our forefathers before us, we are resolved that we shall not be driven out of this country by political pressure or economic measures to deprive us of our freedom and our faith.88

During the late 1940s and 1950s numbers of members initiated frequently reached or passed the 1,000 mark.89 Press reports on the commemorations after the war no longer list the names of all the clubs taking part and only occasionally do they record their numbers. We may note, however, that in 1950 and 1958 it was reported that 120 branches were present at the August parades, along with a similar number of bands.90 Actual numbers of Apprentice Boys in the parade varied between 5,000 and 8,000.91 In light of the large number of annual initiations it seems clear that all members did not attend every year. It is difficult to give precise figures of those present but press estimates ranged between 30,000 and 40,000.92 Attendances could be affected by whether or not demonstrations were held on a Saturday.

The number of parent Clubs increased to eight with the revival of the Campsie Club in 1950. This period also saw the formation of a number of amalgamated committees for different areas: Scotland (1946), Ballymena and district (1948), South Down (later County Down) (1948), Coleraine and district (1948), South Derry and East Tyrone In 1963 an amalgamated committee for South West Ulster was formed to cover Monaghan, Cavan, South Donegal, Fermanagh and West Tyrone.93 The general committee of Apprentice Boss was extended to include representatives from these committees. Until the 1950s the December parades were attended primarily by members of parent clubs with only a few representatives from other clubs but after this time more members from outside attended the commemoration of the closing of the gates, although numbers were still much lower than in August. In 1961 centenary celebrations for the founding of the Browning Club was the occasion for the first Methodist minister to preach in the cathedral.94 During the 1960s the number of annual August initiations seems to have dropped to around 500 but at this time December initiations became more popular than before. The parades continued to attract large numbers of Apprentice Boys, bands and on-lookers. On 15 August 1962, the Londonderry Sentinel reported that:

The parade was so long that it filled the entire two and a half miles long processional route from the Diamond, via Carlisle Road, the Bridge, Duke Street ... The last contingents had not left the Diamond when the head of the procession had returned and was passing through the Diamond to the walls.

In Scotland Apprentice Boys Clubs celebrated only with church services until 1959 when the first open air rally was held at Caldercruix. Since then the Scottish amalgamated committee has organised its main rally on the 3rd Saturday in May.95

On the 275th anniversary of the siege in 1964, the number visiting the city on 12 of August was put at 35,000, a figure which was slightly down from the total of 40,000 two years earlier when the August commemoration fell on a Saturdav.96 Numbers of those initiated were recorded as around 500 in August 1962 and August 1964 (100 others were initiated in December 1964)97. In August 1964 it was reported that the two and a half mile long parade contained more than 100 clubs, 5,000 Apprentice Boys and 100 bands, and took one 1 hour and 10 minutes to pass Carlisle Square.98 It was estimated that on the same occasion 19 Ulster Transport Authority trains, 160 Ulster Transport Authority buses and 3,000 cars were required to bring the visitors to the city. The Lough Swilly Company brought 500 visitors from County Donegal. The press reported that there were representatives from Canada, Scotland, Liverpool and Philadelphia, as well as contingents from Countys Donegal and Monaghan. By the 1960s the initiation of prominent politicians was commonplace although few of them seem to have played a regular part in commemorations. Two prime ministers of Northern Ireland, Lord Brookeborough (1960) and Captain Terence O’Neill (1964), were initiated in this period. Brian Faulkner, minister of commerce, was initiated in 1966: that same year in the Ulster Unionist Council year book he welcomed the involvement of young people in politics, stating that ‘going right back to the Apprentice Boys our young men and now young women too have been quick to sense the need for action and to give a lead’.99

Although it is difficult to give a complete picture of the strength of the Apprentice Boys movement in this period, because newspapers no longer record the names of branches, we are able to gain an important insight into the organisation’s composition from an official Apprentice Boys’ printed list of branch clubs, branch club secretaries and local place of meeting for the year 1971.100 It records a grand total of 178 branches, but notes that in nine cases the branches made no return of information which implies that they were defunct. As regards these 178 branches their distribution was as follows: Belfast 16, County Antrim 31, County Armagh 16, County Down 28, County Fermanagh 5, County Londonderry 22, County Tyrone 35, County Donegal 7, Scotland 14, England 2, Canada 2 and USA 1. In comparison with the figures for 1939, this record reveals a number of interesting developments, especially the growth in the number of Scottish and Belfast branches. This 1971 list records eight amalgamated committees as well as a general committee of 12 officers and 33 members. Clearly this picture shows considerable growth, although to some extent, as in the case of Belfast, it may simply reflect the breakaway of clubs from existing clubs into new clubs rather than a real increase in the numbers of Apprentice Boys actually involved.

Since 1970 the form of the siege commemorations has changed considerably. After riots in the city in 1969 following the 12 August parade, a ban was imposed on Apprentice Boys parades during 1970 and 1971, although services continued in the cathedral. In the period 1972-5 the August procession was restricted to the Waterside. In 1975 the parade was allowed into the walled city during the August commemoration but it was confined to the upper part of the city and marches around the walls continued to be banned: only from 1995 have parent clubs been allowed to march around the city walls again. The burning of Lundy from Walker’s monument was banned by government order in 1970 and the monument itself was blown up in 1973, but this did not end the December siege celebrations. Since 1970 the effigy of Lundy has been burned in nearby Bishop Street. The December parades were also banned during 1970-5, but have continued in a restricted form since then. In the mid1970s the formal link between the Apprentice Boys general committee and the Ulster Unionist Council was broken with the ending of the nomination of six members to the Council. In 1984, a demonstration of Apprentice Boys was held in London to protest against the change of the name of the city from Londonderry to Derry. During these decades several new amalgamated committees were formed, including one for England.

It is not easy to assess numbers of clubs, Apprentice Boys on parade or new members initiated during the two decades 1969-89 because press reports are scanty in their information on these subjects: figures for initiations are also more difficult to find because during this period the ceremony was performed at various times, not just in December and August. As regards numbers of those initiated it seems that 1960s levels have been maintained, if we judge by figures for August 1979 (400) and August 1985 (600): in 1982 640 were initiated in August and 100 in December.101 Figures for those present at the commemorations in August ranged from 5,000 in 1972 to 20,000 in 1985: the security situation undoubtedly effected these numbers.102 Two of the few press references to the number of Apprentice Boys in the procession put them at 7,000 in 1977 and 10,000 in 1988, while several Apprentice Boys sources put full membership at 11,000-12,000 by 1988.103 Numbers of bands increased during the period from 139 in 1977 to 160 in 1989.104 There are no accounts in the press of the number of branches on parade during these decades but we do know that there were 178 in 1971 and, according to the official Apprentice Boys tercentenary brochure, over 200 by 1988.105 Although this latter figure has been questioned there is evidence of the growth of new Clubs in these years. In August 1982, for example, there were new branches at the parade from Newmills (County Tyrone), Bailinakillen (County Donegal), Clough (County Down), Portrush (County Antrim) and Dairy (Scotland).106 A special feature of this last period has been the increase in the number of branches in Scotland and England.

The tercentenary of the siege was the occasion of extensive celebrations in the city. The Apprentice Boys’ organisation co-operated with the nationalist city council in various functions and commemorative events. In August 1989 characters in period costume re-enacted scenes from the siege and a mock breaking of the boom was staged.107 Local councils elsewhere, such as Omagh and Lisburn, organised civic receptions for representatives of the Apprentice Boys organisation. In May a parade of Apprentice Boys was held in Edinburgh to mark the tercentenary. At the cathedral service in Derry on 12 August 1989 the preacher, the Revd James Kane, spoke of the many deaths and destruction of the previous 20 years.108 In an official Apprentice Boys tercentenarv brochure, which referred to both the general political situation and the local reduction of the number of Protestants on the west bank of the city, the chairman of the tercentenary committee wrote: ‘the siege of Derry is, in many senses, still going on'.109 Other publications at this time included a book on the siege by Peter Robinson MP in which he declared: ‘For three centuries Londonderry has been the symbol of Protestant resolve and dogged determination to stand against any threat to its inhabitants and their way of life.'110

Continued expansion of the Apprentice Boys’ organisation in the half centurv 1939-89 can be explained by a number of factors. Clearly the siege of Derry continued to be a potent symbol for more and more Unionists and Protestants in Northern Ireland. For the first two decades of this period, however, a special factor was the shift in emphasis by the Royal Black Order in its August parades from 12 August to its other day of parades on the last Saturday of August. During the 1950s in all counties, except in Fermanagh, demonstrations on 12 August ceased outside Derry, thus freeing members of the Black Order, and Orange supporters, to join the Apprentice Boys’ Clubs and to attend çhe Derry celebrations." Sometimes Black preceptories would mark 12 August with church services but this date was no longer the occasion for major Black parades. Continuation of 12 August celebrations in County Fermanagh may be explained by a rise in local interest in the battle of Newtownbutler (also celebrated on 12 August) and other county Fermanagh events of 1688-9. Expansion in the number of clubs and members since 1969 should be seen as part of the growing interest in loyal orders and parades in the Unionist community as a result of the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Dr Neil Jarman has stated: ‘In recent years, and perhaps particularly since the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985, Protestants have felt their constitutional position, and therefore their sense of national identity, more threatened than at any time since partition.' One response, he says, ‘has been to parade more frequently in local areas, and also to organise more parades for more events’.112 The rise in outside support for this particular event is perhaps attributable to the symbolic loss of Derry to nationalist control and the reduction in the number of Protestants in Derry and a consequent felt need to show Protestant and Unionist solidarity.



The siege of Derry is recalled today by many members of the Protestant and Unionist community in Northern Ireland who annually celebrate the event in well attended parades, church services and other ceremonies in Derry. It is clear, however, that there has not always been such deep interest in the subject, as various writers, quoted at the beginning of this article, have alleged. It is not true that ‘ever since’ 1689 the event has been celebrated in a fashion similar to that today: commemorations in Derry have evolved considerably over the last three hundred years. We do not know how far memories of the siege remained in the consciousness of Protestants, but evidence of their concern, as expressed in their degree of support for these commemorations in Derry and elsewhere, does not suggest that the siege has been either a major source of inspiration or of great symbolic value ever since 1688-9. From our knowledge of celebrations of the siege in Derry, it is clear that there was a substantial period when there was little popular commemorations of these historic events, there were times when the siege was seen in an inclusive light, and, of course there were long periods when the siege served as a great Protestant and Unionist symbol, although the number of people involved in this last stage greatly altered in time. The most marked growth in popular support for commemoration of the siege was not in the early nineteenth century, nor indeed in the late nineteenth century, but in the period post 1921. The extent of the marked change which occurred in the popular appreciation of the siege can be seen in the contrast between celebrations in August in Derry in 1839 and a century later in 1939. On the former occasion small numbers of locals, with some visitors from Enniskillen, were involved. By the latter date the Londonderry Sentinel could report: ‘For this years celebration they came from almost every town and district in Northern Ireland to join with their brethren in the maiden city.112

The shape, degree of support for and meaning of the siege of Derry have undergone many changes over three centuries. During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries most of the elements of celebration and ritual associated with the commemorations today fell into place. Many aspects of the modern siege celebration can be located to certain dates of origin. By the time of the bicentenary the commemorations in Derry had taken on most of the characteristics with which we associate these events today. However, the numbers involved in these annual celebrations were still very limited. The organisation of the Apprentice Boys of Derry was essential for the growth in popular support for these events. The majority of Apprentice Boys’ parent clubs today date from only the 1840s or 1850s. Under their control, and due both to local factors and national issues, the siege celebrations grew in popularity. From a very low degree of support in the 1830s and 1840s the Derry commemorations had become well attended by the 1880s. At this stage, however, formal involvement in these annual parades was limited largely to Protestant residents of Derry. An important change of rules in the 1880s allowed the creation of local clubs, outside the city. While some growth in club numbers ensued in the following two decades, real expansion occurred only after 1921. From a figure of 9 parent and local clubs in 1889, numbers grew to 23 in 1923, 100 in 1939, 178 in 1971 and over 200 in 1989. It is only in the last seventy years that it can be said that these Derry commemorations enjoyed significant involvement from the wider Protestant and Unionist community in Northern Ireland. For members of that community, in their modern day situation, the story of Derry has served as a meaningful lesson in their political and religious lives. Clearly this is a great change from earlier centuries when the siege had served as a strong Protestant symbol for a limited number of people and an even greater change from when it had served as an inclusive symbol for Protestant and Catholic.

Commemoration of the siege of Derry is seen as a key element in the Protestant and Unionist sense of tradition. From observation of current celebrations of the event this is fair comment. At the same time it is important to realise that what is regarded as ‘traditional’ often does not come to us in an unchanging line, transmitted naturally, from the date of origin of the tradition or the event on which it is based. Organisations, people and events influence and alter the traditions which we use. In this case the organisation of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, the influence of churchmen and politicians, and events such as the setting up of the new Northern Ireland in 1921, all had a direct bearing on how the siege of Derry has been commemorated. Contemporary affairs can influence how popular a particular tradition can be. The siege of Derry has developed into an important tradition because, especially in this century, it has been viewed by more and more people as a symbol and source of inspiration which has been relevant to their time. The story of the siege of Derry has been seen as very significant by Unionists and Protestants of Northern Ireland, in light of the political and religious conflict in their society. Each generation has interpreted the siege in particular ways to suit their current needs. This understanding of the rise of the importance of the tradition of remembering the siege of Derry must not be seen as devaluing it for those who share it. Instead it shows that often what others may regard as antiquarian or a hang-over from the past is rooted in present reality. Such understanding emphasises the importance of traditional commemorations. At the same time it also warns against the belief that these traditions are unchanging and fixed in time, which can lead to a failure to adjust effectively to modern circumstances and new events.

There has been considerable debate among historians about the rise of such traditions. Some have emphasised the roots of these traditions while others have stressed the modern situation which affects the way the traditions are taken up and become widely accepted. Eric Hobsbaum has talked of the ‘invention of tradition’ and has interpreted the rise of traditions as a response in the late nineteenth century to modern developments in communication, industrialisation and the political enfranchisement of the mass of the people. In the Irish context, the importance of the origin of tradition as opposed to the importance of the new conditions has been emphasised in differing degrees by various historians. This study shows how various aspects of the Derry siege tradition fell into place during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which accords with those who place emphasis on the strength of long standing traditions. At the same time, however, the small number involved in this tradition over most of the early period has been stressed. Numbers involved were more substantial by the late nineteenth century but it was only the political and religious conditions of post-1921 Northern Ireland that caused the larger Protestant and Unionist community to be actively involved. Therefore, modern conditions were vital for the spread and survival of this tradition. Even the emergence of the home rule crisis in 1885-6 and in 1912 was not enough to generate wide interest in the Derry story. In spite of general social, political and economic change, as emphasised by Hobsbaum, it was the particular circumstances of post-1921 Northern Ireland that caused greater participation in Derry commemorations, a growth which has continued to this day. Much more important for this growth of popular involvement than any strong sense of underlying historical consciousness or general change, has been the continuing relevance of the siege story in the religious and political situation in Northern Ireland, and the development and promotion of the Derry commemorations by various individuals and organisations, in particular, the clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry.


1 For example, Aiken McClelland, William Johnston of Ballykilbeg (Lurgan, 1990), p. 69.
2 Jonathan Bardon, History of Ulster (Belfast, 1992), p. 158.
3 Anthony Buckley, ‘Uses of history among Ulster Protestants’ in Gerald Dawe and J.W. Foster (eds), The poet’s place: Ulster literature and society (Belfast, 1991), p. 262.
4 David McKittrick, Despatches from Belfast (Belfast, 1989), p. 29.
5 Brian Lacey, Siege City: the story of Derry and Londonderry (Belfast, 1990), p. 137.
6 TG. Fraser, ‘The siege: its history and legacy, 1688-1889’ in M.G.R. O’Brien (ed.), Derry/Londonderry: history and society (Dublin, 1998).
7 Sam Burnside,’ "No temporising with the foe": literary materials relating to the siege and relief of Derry’ in Linen Hall Review 5/3 (Autumn, 1988), pp 4-9.
8 lan McBride, The siege of Derry in Ulster Protestant mythology (Dublin, 1997).
9 C.D. Milligan, The Walker Club centenary, 1844-1944, with an historical record of the Apprentice Boys and biographical notes on Governor Walker (Derry, 1944); The Murray Club centenary 18471947: a hundred years of history of the Murray Club of Apprentice Boys of Derry, with the story of Murray’s part in the defence of Derry in 1689 (Derry, 1947); Browning memorials (with a short historical note on the rise and progress of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Clubs) (Derry, 1952); The centenary of the revival of the Mitchelburne Club, 1854-1954 (Derry, 1954). For their assistance in obtaining copies of these publications I am grateful to Mr Billy Coulter and Mr Tony Crowe.
10 Quoted in John Hempton (ed.), Siege and history of Londonderry (Derry, 1861), p. 41.
11 See McBride, Siege of Derry in mythology, p. 36.
12 Ibid., pp 24-7.
13 Hempton, Siege, pp 415-7.
14 Milligan, Browning memorials, p. 9.
15 Hempton, Siege, pp 77-88.
16 Lacey, Siege city. pp 154-8.
17 McBride, Siege of Derry in mythology, p. 14.
18 Hempton, Siege, 436-48, McBride, Siege of Derry in mythology, p. 48.
19 Milligan, Walker Club, p. 20.
20 McBride, Stege of Derry in mythology, pp 46-52.
21 Apprentice Boys of Derry, list of members, 1879 (Dublin, 1879).
22 Ordnance survey oJthe county of Londonderry, vol. 1: city and north western liberties ofLondonderry, parish of Templemore (Dublin, 1837), p. 798. Published in 1837 this comment probably refers to the situation before the founding of the Apprenticc Boys of Derry Club in 1835.
23 Report of the commissioners of inquiry, 1869, into the riots and disturbances in the city of Londonderry, p. 207. Rules and bvelaws of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club, formed 7835.
24 Londonderry Sentinel, 22 Dec. 1838.
25 Mulligan, Walker club, p. 40.
26 Londonderry Sentinel, 17 Aug. 1839.
27 McBride, Siege of Derry in mythology, p. 49; Official tercentenary brochure, pp 2 1-8.
28 McBride, Siege of Derry in mythology, p. 45.
29 Report of commissioners, 1869, pp 180, 195.
30 Report of commissioners, 1869: rules of Apprentice Boys of Derry Club, p. 207.
31 McCIeIIand, Johnston, p. 71.
32 Northern Whig, 13 Aug. 1867.
33 McClelland, Johnston, p.7I.
34 EJ. Porter, Be in earnest: a sermon delivered by the Rez’d EJ. Porter before the Mitcheliburn Club on 12 Aug. 1863 (Derry, 1863), p. 21; Report of commissioners, 1869, p. 180.
35 Belfast Newsletter, 14 Aug. 1877.
36 Milligan, Murray Glub, p. 5.
37 Londonderry Sentinel, 13 Aug. 1877.
38 Report of commissioners, 1869, pp 180 and 195. A letter from J.G. Ferguson, governor of the Apprentice Boys, 7 Dec. 1867, appealing for funds for the new hail described ‘300 active members’. David Miller, Still under siege (Lurgan, 1989), p. 70: report on 1870 parade from Northern Whig, 13 Aug. 1870.
39 Official tercentenary brochure, p. 36.
40 Londonderry Sentinel, 13 Aug. 1889.
41 Ibid.
42 McClelland, Johnston, p. 71.
43 Report of commissioners, 1869, pp 192 and 195.
44 J.S. Crawford, Alleluia: the commemoration service, preached on 12 Aug. 1864, the 175th anniversary of’ the relief of’ Londonderry, in the Strand Road Presbyterian Church (Derry, 1864).
45 See B.M. Walker, Ulster politics: the formative years, 1868-86 (Belfast, 1989).
46 Northern Whig, 13 Aug. 1889.
47 Belfast Newsletter, 20 Dec. 1855; Belfast Telegraph, 13 Aug. 1873; Northern Whig, 20 Dec. 1886.
48 Belfast Newsletter, 13 Aug. 1875.
49 Impartial Reporter, 14 Aug. 1845; Londonderry Sentinel, 17 Aug. 1849; Impartial Reporter, 15 Aug. 1872; 14 Aug. 1879; 16 Aug. 1888
50 Belfast Newsletter, 13 Aug. 1889; 14 Aug. 1889.
51 Ibid., 14 Aug. 1889.
52 Londonderry Sentinel, 13 Aug. 1889.
53 Ibid., 14 Aug. 1900.
54 Belfast Newsletter, 13 Aug. 1914.
55 Ibid., 13 Aug. 1912.
56 Londonderry Sentinel, 19 Dec. 1912.
57 Milligan, Murray, pp 38-41.
58 For God and Ulster: an alternative guide to the loyal orders (Derry, 1997), p. 14.
59 Official tercentenary brochure, p. 4.
60 Londonderry Sentinel, 14 Aug. 1923.
61 Northern Whig, 13 Aug. 1924.
62 Northern Whig, 13 Aug. 1924, Londonderry Sentinel, 14 Aug. 1930, and 13 Aug. 1936.
63 Londonderry Sentinel, 15 Aug. 1939.
64 Londonderry Sentinel, 14 Aug. 1923.
65 Ibid., 14 Aug. 1930.
66 Ibid., 15 Aug. 1939.
67 Ibid.
68 Official tercentenary brochure, p. 38.
69 Londonderry Sentinel, 15 Aug. 1939.
70 Official tercentenary brochure, p. 38.
71 Although the tercentenary brochure suggests that Easter parades started in 1925, this is not confirmed by press reports.
72 Londonderry Sentinel, 13 Aug. 1936.
73 Milligan, Murray Club, p. 45.
74 Londonderry Sentinel, 20 Dec. 1938.
75 Ibid., is Aug. ‘939.
76 Ibid.
77 Ibid.
78 Belfast Newsletter, 13 and 14 Aug. 1889; 14 Aug. 1900.
79 Belfast Newsletter, 13 Aug. 1910, Armagh Guardian, 13 Aug. 1910.
80 Belfast Newsletter, 13 Aug. 1923; Northern Whig, 13 Aug. 1930.
81 Aiken McClelland, ‘The Orange Order in Co. Monaghan’ in Clogher Record (1978), p. 387.
82 Belfast Newsletter, 13 Aug. 1939. There are instances of Black preceptories from Down and Antrim attending these 12 August commemorations in South Ulster or in their own counties in the 1920S and 1930s but they are few.
83 Junior Orange Association of Ireland, Belfast County Lodge 1925-75 (Belfast, 1975).
84 David Fitzpatrick, The two Irelands, 1912-39 (Oxford, 1998) p. 178.
85 W.C. Trimble, The history of Enniskillen: with references to some manors in Go. Fermanagh, vol. 3 (Enniskillen, 1921), pp 77-89.
86 Ibid., 13 Aug. 1946 (nearly 3000); Northern Whig, 13 Aug. 1946 (2500).
87 Northern Whig, 13 Aug. 1946.
88 Belfast Newsletter, 13 Aug. 1947.
89 Northern Whig, 15 Aug. 1949; 33 Aug. 1951; 11 Aug. 1952; Londonderry Sentinel, 13 Aug. 1957; 13 Aug. 3958.
90 Londonderry Sentinel, 15 Aug. 1957; 33 Aug. 3958.
91 Northern Whig, 12 Aug. 1946 (over 7,000); ibid., 13 Aug. 1947 (6000); Belfast Newsletter, 13 Aug. 3957 (8,000); Londonderry Sentinel, 19 Aug. (5,000). On 13 Aug. 1946 the Londonderry Sentinel reported that over 12,000 Apprentice Boys attended the parade but this is probably exaggerated.
92 Londonderry Sentinel, 15 Aug. 1950 (40,000); ibid., 13 Aug. 3953 (30,000).
93 Official tercentenary brochure, pp 37-42.
94 W.J. Wallace, Browning Club Apprentice Boys of Derry (Derry, 1961), p. 37.
95 Official tercentenary brochure, p. 37.
96 Londonderry Sentinel, 15 Aug. 1962; 19 Aug. 1964.
97 Ibid., 22 Dec. 1964.
98 Ibid., 19 Aug. 1964.
99 Ulster Unionist Council Yearbook, 1966 (Belfast, 1966).
100 Apprentice Boys of Derry, member’s ticket, 1971 (Dungannon, 1971), (copy in the Linen Hall Librars, Belfast).
101 Ibid., 15 Aug. 1979; Belfast Telegraph, 13 Aug. 1985; Londonderry Sentinel, 18 Aug. and 22 Dec. 1982.
102 Ibid., 16 Aug. 1972; Belfast Telegraph, 12 Aug. 1985.
103 Londonderry Sentinel, 17 Aug. 1977; Belfast Newsletter, 15 Aug. 1988; General-Secretary Derek Miller put total membership at 11,000 in 1988, Belfast Telegraph, 15 Aug. 1988; a figure of 12,000 is given in the Official tercentenary brochure, p. 37.
104 Londonderry Sentinel, 17 Aug. 1977; 16 Aug. 1989; 15 Aug. 1988.
105 Apprentice Boys of Derry, member’s ticket 1971 (Dungannon, 1971), (copy in the Linen Hall Library, Belfast).
106 Londonderry Sentinel, 18 Aug. 1982.
107 Ibid., 16 Aug. 1989.
108 Ibid.
109 Official tercentenary brochure, p. 3.
110 Peter Robinson, Their cry was ‘No Surrender’: an account of the siege of Londonderry, 1688-9 (Belfast, 1988), pp 17-18.
111 Belfast Newsletter.
112 Neil Jarman, Material conflicts: parades and visual displays in Northern Ireland (Oxford, 1997).


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

go to the top of this page go to the top of this page
Last modified :