Note: The fact that I’m posting about this event does not mean I support the Order of the Orange. I found it interesting and am glad that this kind of celebration can peacefully take place and that both sides are sitting down and discussing things instead of lobbing bombs and bullets at each other.
I’m a few days late with this post — I’d forgotten about Lundy Day until about 4:00 am when I couldn’t sleep and my thought stream lead from my desire for a G1 phone to using a GPS (and getting lost) while walking in Derry, Northern Ireland, to OMG LUNDY’S BEEN BURNED ALREADY! Unfortunately I’d been having trouble sleeping and that didn’t help at all.
Are you familiar with the story of Robert Lundy? I’d never heard of him nor the Apprentice Boys until we visited the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall in Derry, Northern Ireland this past July. In a nutshell (and if you know the story better than I, please comment and I’ll correct my story), when supporters of King James II of England tried to invade the walled city of Derry in 1689 he found the city gates locked. The story goes that 13 apprentice boys were the ones who closed and locked the gates. The governor of the city, Colonel Robert Lundy met with a few of his loyal supporters to discuss surrender. The rest of the city had different ideas and believed in “No Surrender!”. Lundy, realizing he was in a bit of a pickle, sneaked out of the city and was never captured.
The city, probably frustrated from not being able to capture and punish Lundy himself, decided to burn him in effigy each year to commemorate the Shutting of the Gates during the Siege of Derry.
Here’s a better explanation from the website of the Apprentice Boys
Each year the Apprentice Boys of Derry celebrate the stand taken by the thirteen apprentices who shut the gates: the “Brave Thirteen”.
Following the arrival of King William III in England, there had been widespread panic among Protestants in Ireland that there would be a massacre of Protestants. While the citizens of Londonderry were agitated by these reports, news came that a regiment of Roman Catholics were on their way to Londonderry.
When the army arrived on the 7th December (old calendar), the leaders of the city were still debating what to do. Thirteen young apprentices took the initiative and shut the gates in the faces of the army. Their actions were the spark which led to the Siege of Derry, the longest siege in British military history.
Today we commemorate their actions in our annual Shutting of the Gates Celebrations on the first Saturday in December.
The Celebrations start with the symbolic firing of a cannon on the city’s historic walls at midnight. 13 members of a Parent Club will then make their way to each of the four original City gates, as the 13 apprentices did in 1688.
The main celebrations begin later on Saturday with the visiting Branch Clubs and bands parading from the Waterside to the Memorial Hall. The main parade then makes its way from Society Street around the City Centre to a service of thanksgiving in St Columb’s Cathedral. Following the service, the parade makes its way back to Bishop Street for the traditional burning of Lundy the Traitor.
When we visited The Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall we were able to see view the unfinished effigy of Lundy the Traitor. He hung, unceremoniously, in a storage closet. I asked the man who gave us a tour if the burning was ever televised in the States or on the Internet. He said they were not that technologically savvy yet, but maybe someday.