Apprentice Boys’ Annual Commemorations

The two most important dates commemorated by Apprentice Boys are the Shutting of the Gates, and The Relief of Derry. The schedules outlined on these pages are approximate and may vary from time to time: the order of events is a constant. Each of the eight Parent Clubs, in rotation, holds the honour of being responsible for many of the formal aspects of the days’ activities: for example, the firing of the cannon, the Touching of the Gates, the raising of the Siege Flags, Service duties at the Cathedral. In 2007/2008, the 319th Anniversary Commemorations, the honour is held by The Mitchelburne Club, followed by the No Surrender Club, the Browning Club, the Baker Club, the Campsie Club, the Murray Club, the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club, and the Walker Club in 2014/2015.

Shutting of
the Gates

Generally the first Saturday in December - commemorating the 7th December (OS*) anniversary of the Apprentice Boys’ Shutting of the Gates. *Old style calandar.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry Commemorative events begin at midnight Friday, on the eve of the next day’s commemoration, with the firing of a cannon. 1 shot and then 3 shots symbolises the Thirteen Apprentice Boys who shut the gates against the advancing armies of King James.

Members of the Parent Club will then walk around the walls taking part in the Touching of the Gates: commencing with Ferryquay Gate, moving on to Bishop Gate, Butcher Gate and finally Shipquay Gate. This represents a symbolic closing of the gates.

Early morning, the Siege flags are erected on Walker’s Plinth.

The effigy of Governor Lundy is brought out of the Memorial Hall and erected on a scaffold located in Bishop’s Street. Lundy was a Governor of the City during the Siege. He deserted his position and the besieged people, leaving under the cover of the night dressed as an ordinary soldier. In fact, he later served William III; Lundy was a traitor to the City, though not to the King.

At 10am in the morning the General Committee of the Apprentice Boys Association opens in the Memorial Hall. All visiting Clubs parade from Waterside Railway Station, departing at 11.30am, to the Memorial Hall via Hawkin Street.

The main parade leaves Society Street at 1.15pm, via the Diamond, to Carlisle Road and up Wapping Lane to St Columb’s Cathedral for the Annual Thanksgiving Service for the Shutting of the Gates, which commences at 2.00pm.

At the conclusion of Divine Service a Wreath is laid by the Officers of the host Parent Club on the Siege Heroes Mound in the grounds of the Cathedral.

The parade then re-forms and returns to Bishop Street for the Burning of Lundy, which takes place at approximately 4pm.

Before Lundy is set alight the soles of Lundy’s boots are removed and presented to a member of the Parent Club, or to a selected Club, as a commemorative memento of the Year’s Duties to the Association.

The Governor and Officers of General Committee take the salute in Bishop Street as the Parade returns to the Waterside via London Street. With the visiting Branch Clubs returning to their transport, the Governor and Officers return to the Memorial Hall to close General Committee at around 5.00pm.

The Shutting of the Gates is smaller than the summer’s Relief of Derry Commemorative Parade. Those who attend are mostly Parent Clubs and a number of visiting Clubs.

The Relief of Derry Commemorations

This event is held annually on the second Saturday in August, commemorating the Relief of the City from a 105 day siege blockade.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry “Relief of Derry” Commemorative events begin at midnight Friday, on the eve of the next day’s commemoration, with the firing of a cannon. 1 shot and then 3 shots symbolises the Thirteen Apprentice Boys who shut the gates against the advancing armies of King James.

Members of the Parent Club will then walk around the walls taking part in the Touching of the Gates: symbolically ensuring the security of the City.

Early morning, the Siege flags are erected on Walker’s Plinth.

At 9am the General Committee of the Apprentice Boys Association opens in the Memorial Hall.

The Officers and Members of General Committee will move on to the Walls at 9.30am and complete the circuit followed by the Parent Clubs and their engaged bands.

Having left the Walls, at 10am the General Committee and the Parent Clubs move to the Cenotaph to lay a wreath at the War Memorial in the Diamond.

This is an exceptionally well choreographed Service of Remembrance, which lends to the dignity and respect of the occasion. Following Remembrance, General Committee and Parent Clubs walk to St Columb’s Cathedral.

St Columb’s Cathedral’s Relief of Derry Service of Thanksgiving is held at 10.30am. The Dean of the Cathedral leads an Order of Service barely changed in centuries. This is a public Service, and all are welcome.

Around 11.45am, following the Service ofThanksgiving, the General Committee walks to Craigavon Bridge to meet with the Main Parade.

The Crimson Players perform the “Relief of Derry” Pageant at Carlisle Roundabout at mid-day(12 noon).

As the Pageantconcludes, celebratory ‘daylight’ fireworks explode over the Foyle heralding the start of the Main Parade advancing over Craigavon Bridge to join General Committee.

By 12.30pm the Main Parade proceeds up Carlisle Road, through Ferryquay gate.

It proceeds along Ferryquay Street, around theDiamond, up Bishop Street, through London Street to the Fountain and down Wapping Lane before returning across Craigavon Bridge. Parent Clubs join the Parade inside Ferryquay Gate (from Artillery Street) to lead their branch Clubs through the City, symbolically beginning from the first gate to be closed to King James’ army.

The Main Parade winds around the Waterside and The Governor and Officers of General Committee take the salute in May Street, before re-forming along with the Parent Clubs at Bond Street and returning the Colours to the City. The day’s events conclude with the return of the Parent Clubs to the Memorial Hall at around 05.30pm and the closing of General Committee.

Up to 10,000 Apprentice Boys accompanied by around 130 bands take part in the Relief of Derry Commemorations. This Parade has the greatest number of visiting Apprentice Boys, from as far away as Canada and the USA, taking the opportunity of summer breaks to join with their fellow Apprentice Boys in keeping alive the memory of the historic and heroic events of 1688-1689.

The bells will be rung and Crimson flags hoisted. The Siege colour Crimson shall be worn.