The Siege Of Derry

The walls of Derry or Londonderry, as it became known in 1613, are probably best known for the 1689 Siege of Derry. Although there have been three sieges of Derry, two in the 1640s, it is the 1689 siege that is mostly spoken about. The siege is a battle of two kings fighting over the English throne but the fight spills over in to Ireland. The two kings involved were James ii, Catholic, and William iii, Protestant, linked by blood and marriage. Although some would see the siege as a Catholic/Protestant conflict things are never as clear cut as they are made out to be.

The Catholic king became James ii of England and Ireland and James vii of Scotland in April1685. Fears of a Catholic monarch in England led to William iii, Prince of Orange, to be invited to take the throne from James in what became known as the Glorious/Bloodless Revolution in England but it was neither glorious nor bloodless in Ireland. The fight for the British throne would take place in Ireland and the Siege of Derry would become a decisive moment in that conflict. In preparation for his return to England to reclaim his throne James ii had come to Ireland to establish a base and reinforce his army before going over to Britain and Derry was the last obstacle in his way. Derry is a walled city built during the Plantation of Ulster in 1613.
Having sent an advance garrison to Derry known as the Redshanks, a Catholic regiment, to garrison the city but as they approached the city 13 apprentice boys closed the city
gates in the face of the approaching army.

The Governor Of Derry - Col. Robert Lundy

Arriving totally unprepared for siege warfare James approached Bishop’s Gate on Derry’s walls in May 1689 and demanded that the gates be opened up and the city returned to the command of the true king. In response to the demand cannon fire was directed at James killing an officer in his company and declaring the city of Derry for William iii. James ordered that the city be surrounded and held to siege until surrender and so began the Siege of Derry. In spite of the fact that Derry was built on the slope of a hill The Siege of Derry would last for 105 days and make it the longest siege in Irish and British military history. The
Jacobite’s would place a blockade on the River Foyle that passes through Derry, stopping any British ships from supplying the city during the siege. The Governor of Derry at this time was Col. Robert Lundy, who fortified land outside of the city and as well as the walls, and probably saved the city from collapse but is seen as a traitor in the Unionist tradition. On the 105th day of the siege of Derry would come to an end when a ship called the Mountjoy would break through a boom or blockade on the River Foyle and relieve the city of Derry, an event remembered by the Apprentice boys of Derry on the 12th of August each year on the city walls known as The Relief of Derry