Shutting of the Gates: Numbers increase for Apprentice Boys of Derry event

Apprentice Boys will converge on Londonderry tomorrow to mark the 333rd anniversary of the start of the siege of the city.

By Graeme Cousins
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 3:51 pm
Updated Saturday, 4th December 2021, 1:39 am
Apprentice Boys marked the ‘Relief of Londonderry’ in August
Apprentice Boys marked the ‘Relief of Londonderry’ in August

Low key events took place last December and in August to mark the ‘Shutting of the Gates’ and the ‘Relief of Londonderry’, but numbers will increase significantly for today’s celebrations.

William Moore, general secretary of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, said: “We had a very small event last year with around 16 people to maintain the tradition. Local parades took place in local areas.

“This year will be a vast increase, but not as large as in days gone by. 2019 was our last big one. Hopefully we can get back to complete normality in August for the relief of the city and hopefully Easter Monday before that.”

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William added: “We normally would have about 28 bands so there’s 18 tomorrow.

“We’re optimistic that there will still be a fair representation of our membership from throughout Northern Ireland and indeed England and Scotland as well. We’re looking forward to a positive day, carrying on the traditions of the shutting of the gates anniversary.”

The shutting of the gates marks the start of the siege which began on December 7, 1688 when 13 young apprentices shut the gates in the faces of the approaching army of Jacobites.

William said: “The siege proper commenced on April 18, 1689, that’s when King James II arrived at Bishop’s Gate and was refused entrance. He instructed his army to surround the city. The siege last from April 18 until the Jacobite army commenced their retreat on August 1.

“That’s why the siege is often referred to as the 105-day siege.”

Apprentice Boys mark the ‘Shutting of the Gates and ‘Relief of Londonderry’ with two events, but the actual beginning of the siege in April is also marked with a parade.

William said: “That’s why we have our Easter Monday parade to symbolise the start of the siege proper.”

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