The city of Dublin has the distinction of forming an Apprentice Boys of Derry society a year before the first formal club was founded in Londonderry. Dublin also had a branch of the Murray Club which was formed about the time of the First World War.
The Dublin Apprentice Boys of Derry Society
In 1813, the year before the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club was founded in Londonderry, an Apprentice Boys of Derry Society was formed in Dublin.
The Dublin Society was formed at the prestigious Morrison’s Hotel in Dawson Street on 7th December 1813. The principal officers elected at the inaugural meeting were John Boyd as Governor and Robert Torrens as Lieutenant-Governor.
John Boyd’s family estate was at Ballymacool House, Letterkenny, County Donegal. He was the Accountant General of the Court of Chancery, a Captain in the Letterkenny Corps of the Donegal Militia and a Freeman of the City of Londonderry.
Several resolutions were passed at the inaugural meeting including the following:
‘No person to be admissible who is not a Freeman of Derry, and of a family which is resident or has been resident in that City’
‘Members shall dine together on the seventh day of December in each year in commemoration of the Shutting of the Gates of Derry’
‘ On every seventh day of December a Governor and Lieutenant-Governor shall be appointed for the next year’
Dublin at that time was the thriving capital of Ireland which thirteen years previously had become part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Society membership was drawn from the aristocratic and professional classes. Distinguished members including the Marquess of Ormonde, the Earl of Erne, the Earl of Enniskillen and the Earl of Kingston. There was also many members from the legal, medical, military and political fields and included Dr Barnardo and Edward Carson.
Governors included Lieutenant-General George Hart, MP (1824), Sir William Verner, MP (1853), the Earl of Enniskillen (1856) and Viscount Crichton, MP (1877).
The Society owned several interesting possessions including a chair made of oak from the old roof of St. Columb’s Cathedral, Mitchelburne’s saddle and even a cast of the skull of Governor Walker!
The Society is believed to have existed until the outbreak of the First World War, so it lasted for about 100 years.
Perhaps the Dublin Apprentice Boys of Derry were the inspiration for the formation of an Apprentice Boys of Derry Club in Londonderry by Benjamin Darcus in 1814.
The Dublin Murray Club
In 1915 the Murray Parent Club received an application to open a Dublin Branch Club. This is likely to have been shortly after the Dublin Apprentice Boys of Derry Society ceased to exist. Unfortunately the date set for the opening of the Club was Easter Monday 1916 – the first day of the Easter Rising in Dublin!
Brother David Norrie of the Murray Parent Club and some other members arrived in Dublin on Easter Monday morning. When the rebellion broke out that day they took shelter in Dublin Orange Hall, Rutland Square, and they stayed there until Thursday as the fighting raged in the streets around them.
Anxious to make their way back to the Maiden City the Apprentice Boys ventured out on Thursday afternoon but were arrested by soldiers who thought that they were Sinn Feiners! Despite their protestations of innocence, Brother Norrie and his companions were taken to Kilmainham jail where they were locked up for nine days.
From Kilmainham jail they were marched, along with about 300 other prisoners, to Dublin docks where they were put on a steamer for Holyhead.
At Holyhead the prisoners were met by an escort of troops with fixed bayonets who loaded them onto a train that took them to Wakefield prison. Strenuous representations by an Anglican clergyman, the Rev. Gage Dougherty of Dublin, eventually secured the release of the Apprentice Boys.
The Dublin Branch of the Murray Club was finally formed in 1919, but is believed to have been short lived. It is recorded that the Club held a well-attended Relief service in the Fowler Memorial Hall in August 1921.
- Dublin Apprentice Boys of Derry Society records, dated 1892, British Library, London.
- Article by Brother Tony Crowe published in the Londonderry Sentinel, 27th November 2013.
- Dublin Evening Mail, 16th May 1916.
- The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 15th August 1921.