The Siege of Londonderry, involved a pre-emptive lockdown of the city gates this day in December 1688 and a desperate defensive action lasting from 18 April to 28 July 1689.
The city, a Williamite stronghold, was besieged by a Jacobite army until it was relieved by Royal Navy ships. The siege is commemorated yearly in August by the Apprentice Boys of Derry.
Each year on 18th December 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 yet another 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 upper class leaders of the city were still debating what to do – the usual ‘posh’ mixture of cowardice, dithering and treaon. Thirteen young apprentices took the initiative and shut the gates in the faces of the army. Their brave and decisive action was the spark which led to the Siege of Londonderry, the longest siege in British military history.