Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Siege Flags on the Walls of Derry

Apprentice Boys of Derry Club assisted by the Police Service and City Marshals placing the siege flags on Walker's Plinth on Royal Bastion of the historic city walls of Londonderry, and preparing the effigy of the traitor Lundy on Saturday 7th December 2013. This is done annually on the first Saturday of December to mark the anniversary of the Shutting of the Gates of Londonderry on 18th December 1688.
video
On the 18th December 1688 thirteen Apprentice Boys seized the keys and shut the city gates against the Earl of Antrim's Regiment know as the Redshanks, who had been ordered by the viceroy of King James II to take over the garrison of the city. Thus beginning the siege of Derry.
The siege flags are flown from the walls on the anniversaries of both the Shutting of the Gates, and Relief of Derry at the beginning and end of the siege respectfully.
The Cross of St George on the left and Green Ensign on the right were the flags used in Ireland on land and at sea at the time of the siege. St George's Cross being used on Garrisons like Londonderry and the Green Ensign used on Irish ships although it is debated if this flag had any official status, there is evidence it was used none the less.
The flag in the centre is known as the Crimson Banner and it was first hoisted on the walls and later St Columb's Cathedral by the cities Governor Colonel Mitchelburne as a symbol of defiance or distress or possibly to boost moral, depending on who you talk to. Local legend says the crimson colour comes from the flag being stained by the blood of the city's defenders although sources differ on what the original flag was, some say it was a rag dipped in blood one says it was an unused maritime ensign stained with blood. Col Mitchelburne founded the forerunner of the Apprentice Boys Clubs in 1714 and left money in his will to hoist his Crimson flag from the Cathedral on the anniversaries of the beginning and end of the siege, which continues today. As well as the walls and Cathedral the crimson flag is flown from the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall, and versions are carried by Apprentice Boys clubs on parade.
At the end of the video is the effigy of the traitor Lundy. Lundy was Governor at the beginning of the siege but wanted to surrender, he is even accused of leaving the gates open one night, and of various attempts to sabotage the city's defence. He later fled the city disguised as a common soldier which is why he is remembered as a traitor. His effigy is ritually burned on the anniversary of the shutting on the gates.
For more information on the city walls, the siege, or the commemorations you can visit:
Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Website
Derry's Walls Website
Siege Hero's Trail
Or various documentaries about the siege on YouTube
BBC "The Siege"
BBC "Battle Field Britain" Clip
Museum audio-visual displays: One, Two and Three.

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