I’m sure you know why the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) parade in December (To mark the Closing of the Gates) and in August (to mark the Relief of Derry).
But why do they parade on Easter Monday??
Well it’s not actually Easter itself that they’re commemorating, but that public holiday conveniently falls closely to the date they are commemorating – 18th April 1689.
At 10am on that day, King James II – at the head of an army of 20,000 men – rode within a few hundred yards of Bishop’s Gate accompanied by flying colours, deluding himself into believing that it would be opened to him.
Suddenly he and his troops were rebuked as the garrison viciously erupted with tumultuous roars of, “NO SURRENDER!”, from the enraged defenders who were crowded along the Church Wall in their thousands.
Artillery opened fire from the Church Bastion; however, the noise of cannon was drowned out as the thunderous roars of, “NO SURRENDER!”, rocketed to a monstrous crescendo, shaking the Walls themselves with brutal ferocity.
One Jacobite officer, Captain Troy, was killed in the chaos and several others were wounded as James retreated in fear.
The great historian, Lord Macauley, gives the following account:
“The whole of the crowded City was moved by one impulse. Soldiers, gentlemen, yeoman, artisans rushed to the Walls and manned the guns. King James, who, confident of success, had approached within a few hundred yards of the southern gate, was received with tumultuous roars of “NO SURRENDER!”, and with a fire from the nearest bastion, an officer of his staff fell dead by his side. The king and his attendants made all haste to get out of reach of the cannon balls”.Lord Macauley
As the Williamites continued to vent their furious rage, thousands of Jacobite mercenaries surrounded the garrison, proceeding to instigate unrelenting and deadly artillery bombardment.
This explosive stand marked the commencement of the Siege, the longest and most violent in British military history which would leave up to 12,000 dead and many more injured.
For the next 105 hellish days, the residents and those taking shelter in Londonderry, suffered and perished under fire, famine and pestilence.