1688 – Thirteen ‘Apprentice Boys’ refuse to let a Catholic army into Derry.

Tyrconnell backs down and allows the city to keep its Protestant garrison. Enniskillen also defies James II.

The siege apparently began when 13 apprentice boys shut the gates of the city against the oncoming army. King James demanded they “surrender or die” which resulted in the famous retort of “No Surrender!”

The History of the Siege of Londonderry 1689, written in 1951 by Cecil Milligan, lists the 13 as: Henry Campsie, William Crookshanks, Robert Sherrard, Daniel Sherrard, Alexander Irwin, James Steward, Roberet Morison, Alexander Cunningham, Samuel Hunt, James Spike, John Coningham, William Cairnes and Samuel Harvy.


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 loyal order parades. 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 nationalist Bogside area, and was blown up by the IRA in 1973.

Photo: The Apprentice Boys of Derry Crimson Flag



Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.