Apprentice Boys Of Derry Essay Help

Who are the Apprentice Boys?
What happens on an Apprentice Boys parade?
Sample Essay – Why were British troops sent into Northern Ireland in 1969?
Video – The B-Specials
Video – Housing Discrimination in Northern Ireland 1969
Video – Peoples Democracy March January 1969 – Burntollet Bridge
Short Video – The Battle of the Bogside
Video – Six Part Documentary on the Battle of the Bogside

Who are the Apprentice Boys?

Taken from the BBC Website

At the start of the siege of Londonderry in 1689, 13 apprentice boys slammed the city gates against the army of the Catholic King James II.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry, one of the Protestant Loyal Orders, is based upon this defiant action of “no surrender”.

New Apprentice Boys can only be initiated inside the city, in ceremonies in August and December each year.

The order holds its main parade in Derry on 12 August to celebrate the relief of the city and the end of the siege.

Usually some 10,000-12,000 members take part.

There is a lesser demonstration on 18 December, to mark the shutting of the gates, when an effigy is burned of Colonel Lundy, an officer who tried to negotiate the surrender of the city in 1689.

Even today those regarded as traitors to the unionist cause can be referred to as ‘Lundies.’

There were serious riots in Derry after the August 1969 march, and parades were banned for the following two years.

The then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Brian Faulkner, an Apprentice Boy himself, was expelled from the order in 1971 for being associated with the ban.

In 1972 the parade was limited to the predominantly Protestant east side of the River Foyle, the Waterside area.

Bogside controversy

The order’s general committee decided to call off the parade but many Apprentice Boys gathered at the Waterside to be addressed by fellow member, the Reverend Ian Paisley.

The order was allowed to parade within the old walled city again in 1975, but were banned from taking their usual route around the walls because they overlooked the mainly Catholic Bogside.

In 1985 Unionists boycotted the local council for changing its name from Londonderry to Derry.

Two leading Apprentice Boys officials refused to support the boycott and were dropped by the order.

James Guy, who was replaced as Lieutenant Governor, became Mayor of Derry in 1987-8.

In recent years, renewed controversy over parades by the Protestant Orange Order, and the Apprentice Boys, either through or near to Catholic nationalist areas have led to clashes.

Violent clashes

Lengthy negotiations have often been held in an effort by local community leaders and politicians such as SDLP leader John Hume to avoid violence.

In August 1995 the ‘feeder parade’, on its way to the main demonstration in Derry, resulted in violence on the nationalist lower Ormeau Road, in which 22 people were injured.

In Derry, the Apprentice Boys marched around the city’s historic walls for the first time in many years, and republicans who mounted a sit-down protest were removed by the RUC.

More recently there have also been ugly confrontations between nationalists and marchers in Derry around the time of Apprentice Boys’ parades, followed by petrol bomb attacks and stone throwing late at night.

Who are the Apprentice Boys?

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Outline of what happens on an Apprentice Boys parade

The Apprentice Boys of Derry hold two main parades during the year. One parade is held in December, commemorating the closing of the gates by the original Apprentice Boys on 7th December 1688. The December event is popularly known as Lundy’s Day, because an effigy of Lundy is set on fire at dusk. Another parade is held in August, celebrating the relief of the city at the end of the siege, on 1st August 1689. Because of the change in the calendar in 1752, the anniversaries have moved by eleven days to 18th December and 12th August. The parades are now held on Saturdays close to these anniversary dates, and the pictures on this page were taken during the parade held on Saturday 14th August 1999.

The first parade started shortly after 9am, when the General Committee of the Apprentice Boys and the parent clubs walked around the historic walls of Londonderry. As usual, the Black Skull flute band from Glasgow led the parade and afterwards the band played a selection of tunes in Society Street, near the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall. A ruling by the Parades Commission meant that only a single band took part in this section of the parade.

The Apprentice Boys have gone to considerable lengths in recent years to try to present the traditions of the siege in a more inclusive way. In August 1998, the Apprentice Boys organised a one week festival which was generously sponsored by the Nationalist-controlled Derry City Council. Events during that festival included a cross-community art competition for schools, traditional music, drama and a fancy dress parade. This year, the Crimson Players organised a re-enactment of part of the story of the siege. At times the acting left a little to be desired, but the period costumes helped to convey something of the difficulties and dangers of the famous siege.

Just before 11am, the Apprentice Boys had a more solemn duty to perform. The General Committee and the parent clubs walked to the War Memorial at the centre of the city to lay several wreaths, and to stand for a minute in silence, remembering those who died in the two World Wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945).

Following the wreath laying ceremony, a service was held at St. Columb’s Cathedral, which was built between 1628 and 1633. It is traditional to fly a crimson flag from the cathedral during the two main siege anniversaries. While waiting for the main parade to start, the spectators were able to listen to some excellent music from the William King memorial band, which had come up from the Fountain area to play beside the Apprentice Boys’ hall. The main parade starts at about lunchtime, and is one of the largest in Northern Ireland, with up to 10,000 Apprentice Boys and 130 bands taking part.

The Apprentice Boys, band members, stewards, police and spectators at the parade all played their part in ensuring that this very large event was peaceful and well-organised. Unfortunately, there was some serious violence during the afternoon in a Nationalist part of the city, following a protest march organised by the Bogside Residents Group.

Apprentice Boys Parade

The Apprentice Boys Website

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Sample essay

Why were British troops sent into Northern Ireland in 1969?

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Video – The B-Specials

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Video – Housing Discrimination in Northern Ireland 1969

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Video – Peoples Democracy March January 1969 – Burntollet Bridge

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Short Video – The Battle of the Bogside

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The Battle of the Bogside

This is a six part documentary made on the background to and events in Derry in 1969 about the Apprentice Boys march on 12th August 1969 and the resultant Battle of the Bogside.

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The Apprentice Boys of Derry is a Protestantfraternal society with a worldwide membership of over 10,000,[1] founded in 1814 and based in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland. There are clubs and branches in Ulster and elsewhere in Ireland, Scotland, England and Toronto, Canada.[2] The society aims to commemorate the 1689 Siege of Derry when CatholicJames II of England and Ireland and VII of Scotland laid siege to the walled city, which was at the time a Protestant stronghold. Apprentice Boys parades once regularly led to virulent opposition from the city's Irish nationalist majority, but recently a more conciliatory approach has taken place and now the parades are virtually trouble-free. The 2014 'Shutting of the Gates' parade was described as "the biggest in years" and was violence-free.[3][4][5]

Siege of Derry[edit]

Main article: Siege of Derry

The siege of Derry began in December 1688 when 13 apprentice boys[6] shut the gates of the city against a regiment of twelve hundred Jacobite soldiers, commanded by the Roman Catholic, Alexander Macdonnell, Earl of Antrim, which was immediately withdrawn.[7] Retaliatory action passed to the Duke of Tyrconnel who assembled a large but poorly ordered Jacobite force commanded by Sir Richard Hamilton to march north against the Ulster Protestants.[8] The deposed King James II, who had travelled from France to Ireland in March, took charge with the aid of two French generals. Arriving at the gates of Derry on 18 April 1689, he was greeted by a cry of "No Surrender!"[9] The siege was lifted on 28 July 1689 (Old Style) when two armed merchant ships, the Mountjoy and the Phoenix, sailed up the River Foyle to breach a timber boom which had been stretched across the river, blocking supplies to the city. The ships' approach was covered against the Jacobite besiegers by cannon fire from the frigate HMS Dartmouth, under Captain (and future Admiral) John Leake. The Mountjoy rammed and broke the barricading boom at Culmore fort and the ships moved in, unloading many tons of food to relieve the siege.[10] Three days later, the besieging forces burned their camps and departed.[11] It was reported that some 4,000 people (about half the population of the city) had died of starvation or injury. Many had been forced to eat dogs, horses and rats.[12]


The Apprentice Boys hold two main annual celebrations. These are the 'closing of the gates' on the first Saturday in December, in memory of the action of the original apprentice boys; and the Relief of Derry on the second Saturday in August, in memory of the lifting of the siege. The Relief Parade in Derry is the largest of all the parades in Northern Ireland. In some areas of the city bonfires similar to those held on 11 July are erected and burned. In recent years, it has transformed into the week-long Maiden City Festival in August, and is accompanied by a series of diverse cultural events including bluegrass music festivals, Irish and Ulster Scots music and tuition, arts exhibitions and events staged by other local minority communities such as the Chinese and Polish communities. During the December celebrations it is traditional to burn or hang an effigy of Robert Lundy. Before the Troubles the effigy was often hung from, and then burnt in front of, the pillar commemorating George Walker. This was on the city's walls overlooking the Irish nationalistBogside area, and was blown up by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1973.

According to the Parades Commission, the Apprentice Boys held 231 parades in Northern Ireland in 2007. Of these, 116 were Relief of Derry parades, and 115 were Closing of the Gates parades. The main December parade in Derry was expected to include 1500 marchers and 28 bands, while the main August parade was estimated at 10,000 marchers and 127 bands.[13] In 2009/2010 32 marches took place in Glasgow, Scotland.[14]

History of the associated clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry[edit]

The first celebrations of the relief of Derry took place on Sunday 28 July 1689, when the starving citizens crowded the walls to welcome the relief ships. The first organised celebrations took place on Sunday 8 August 1689 when a thanksgiving service was held in St Columb's Cathedral. Subsequent celebrations have followed that precedent.

On 1 August 1714, ex-Governor and siege hero Colonel Mitchelburne hoisted the Crimson Flag on the Cathedral steeple and formed the first club known as the Apprentice Boys. The formal arrangements for the August and December commemorations were organised by the military garrison based in Derry.

In the late eighteenth century, Roman Catholic clergy joined in the prayer services offered on the walls of Derry, and in the early nineteenth century Catholics joined the celebrations with their Protestant fellow-citizens. However, the British government's Londonderry Riot Inquiry of 1869 found that "the character of the demonstrations (by the Apprentice Boys) has certainly undergone a change, and, among the Catholic lower classes at least, they are now regarded with the most hostile feelings". The inquiry recommended that both Apprentice Boys parades be banned. For similar reasons they also recommended the banning of Orange Order parades.

The Apprentice Boys role in the celebrations became more important in the early nineteenth century which saw the establishment of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club in 1814 and the No Surrender Club in 1824. New clubs were formed over the following years. In December 1861 the various clubs agreed to associate together under a governing body known as the General Committee. This remains the governing body of the association, each of the eight clubs sending an equal number of representatives, together with delegates of various amalgamated committees around the UK.

In 1865, the local ConservativeMP, Lord Claud John Hamilton, won control of the Apprentice Boys and rallied the organisation against the campaign to disestablish the AnglicanChurch of Ireland, much to the dismay of many Presbyterian members (see also Irish Church Act 1869).

The celebrations continued in the usual form with the firing of the siege cannons (today a small replica is used), the ringing of the cathedral bells, the hoisting of the Crimson Flags, and the laying of wreaths in memory of those who sacrificed their lives. In December they continue with the burning of an effigy of Robert Lundy (the Governor of Derry who had wished to negotiate with King James during the siege) and the service of thanksgiving in St Columb's Cathedral.

In 1969, the Apprentice Boys' parade around the walls of Derry sparked off three days of intensive rioting in the city, known as the Battle of the Bogside. The disturbances are regarded by some as the start of the Troubles.

In 1986, the banning of an Apprentice Boys parade in Portadown led to rioting between supporters and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. During these disturbances Keith White became the first Protestant to be killed by a plastic bullet in the Troubles.[15]

In 1990, the organisation decided to apply for funding from the newly established International Fund for Ireland, which led to protests by Ulster loyalists at its August parade. Ian Paisley addressed a rally at the courthouse where he told the crowd that the proposed grant of was "a bribe to get Protestant people involved in the Anglo-Irish Agreement."

Walker's Pillar[edit]

Plans for the 81-foot (25 m) high Walker Memorial Pillar (a memorial to The Rev. George Walker) were completed in 1826. After the completion of the pillar it played a central role in the celebrations. In 1832 the first occasion of the burning of the effigy of Colonel Lundy occurred, the Scottish Protestant Governor during the early part of the siege. The pillar was destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1973. The memorial plinth was restored for the three hundredth anniversary of the siege. The Apprentice Boys placed the retrieved statue in a newly constructed memorial garden beside the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall.

Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall[edit]

The hall was opened in 1877, dedicated to the memory of the thirteen apprentice boys who closed the city gates in 1688. In 1937 the hall was extended along Society Street. The extension is dedicated to the memory of those who died in the Great War of 1914–1918. The hall is an architecturally important building within the walled city.

It now houses the headquarters of the association, with its office and debating chamber. All new members are initiated in the hall. Other organisations such as the Orange Order and Royal Black Preceptory have separate accommodations in the hall. It also houses a social club and a museum. The hall is usually open to the public during the summer months, July to September. It has recently received funding from the EU to create a visitors centre.[16]


Members can only be initiated within the city walls. The wearing of crimson collarettes by members recalls the crimson flag flown from the cathedral during the siege. Membership is limited to Protestant men.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

A flag of the Apprentice Boys
A house in Claudy flying an Apprentice Boys of Derry flag.
Bonfire in Derry's Fountain estate for the Relief of Derry celebrations
Memorial Hall on Society Street.
  1. ^
  2. ^"Lundy's Day: Thousands due to attend Londonderry parade"BBC News 1 December 2012
  3. ^[1]
  4. ^Hopes for peaceful march in Derry Keiron Tourish, BBC Online, 6 December 2002. Retrieved 28 March 2008
  5. ^Quiet end to Lundy's Day parade BBC Online, 1 September 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2008
  6. ^The apprentice boys were named as "Henry Campsie, William Crookshanks, Robert Sherrard, Daniel Sherrard, Alexander Irwin, James Steward, Robert Morison, Alexander Cunningham, Samuel Hunt, James Spike, John Coningham, William Cairnes and Samuel Harvy" in the book History of the Siege of Londonderry 1689, by Cecil D. Milligan, H. R. Carter Publications, Belfast 1951
  7. ^Macaulay, T. B.James the Second's Descent on Ireland and the Siege of Londonderry in 1869. Gebhardt & Wilisch, Leipzig 1902
  8. ^Macaulay, T. B.James the Second's Descent on Ireland, p.23
  9. ^Macaulay, T. B.James the Second's Descent on Ireland, p.47
  10. ^Graham, Rev John A History of the Siege of Londonderry Maclear & Co, Toronto 1869. P.124
  11. ^Macaulay, T. B.James the Second's Descent on Ireland, pp.85-86
  12. ^Macaulay, T. B.James the Second's Descent on Ireland, pp.81-82
  13. ^All statistics in this paragraph from Parades Commission websiteArchived 16 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^Orange Parades to be limited in the city centre
  15. ^McKittrick, David (ed.) Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children Who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles, page 1035 Mainstream Publishing, UK, 1999 ISBN 9781840185041)
  16. ^Apprentice Boys of Derry m boost for new visitors centreBBC News, 19 October 2012. Accessed 26 November 2013

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