The Apprentice Boys & the Siege of Derry

Changing Derry's name and planting it with Protestants didn't immediately end the city's troubles. In December 1688, after backing the English Parliament during the civil war, Derry was attacked by Catholic forces led by the Earl of Antrim. At one point in the battle, messengers from the earl were sent into the city, ostensibly for talks, but it was a trick to distract the city leaders as the earl's troops prepared to attack. At the last minute, some of the town's apprentice boys saw the ruse for what it was, and locked the city gates -- thus saving the town, but setting off the Great Siege of Derry. For months, the town's population endured attacks, disease, and starvation as the earl's troops waited them out. By the time they were rescued, nearly a quarter of the city's residents had died.

The apprentice boys were seen as Protestant heroes, and have been celebrated by the town ever since in marches and parades held every summer, although these have been widely associated with conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

Oh, Danny Boy . . .

About 19km (12 miles) east of Derry is another Georgian enclave, the town of Limavady in the Roe Valley. It was here that Jane Ross wrote down the tune of a lovely song she heard played by a fiddler passing through town. It became the famous "Londonderry Air," otherwise known as "Danny Boy."

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