It was an honour for the Siege Museum to host a visit for Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, today 2 November 2021, following which the Trustees of the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall extended an invitation to the adjacent building.
The tour of the Siege Museum was conducted by the Chairman of the Siege Museum Committee, William Moore BEM, and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was welcomed to the Memorial Hall by Ivan Taylor, Chairman of the Trustees of the Memorial Hall.
The Siege Museum tells the story of Londonderry from the Siege of 1688-89 to the present day, and includes the history of the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice boys of Derry and the annual commemorations of Siege events.
Among the most admired items on display are sword carried by the Siege Hero Col. Adam Murray and, from more recent times, there is a silver replica Mountjoy which contained the Freedom of the City of Londonderry for Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
Following the tour of the Museum Her Royal Highness spoke to schools from the area and to representatives of each of the eight Parent Clubs that are the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry. The Secretary of the Murray, Bro. David Hoey, introduced four of the Clubs to Her Royal Highness, the Baker Club, Campsie Club, Browning Club and the Murray Club (represented on the day by the Secretary, and Chaplain Bro. David Austin), providing a little background on each Club, and reflecting on aspects of the story she may have observed within the Siege Museum. The Princess Royal took time to speak with the representatives of each Club.
Currently on exhibition is the story of Londonderry within the 100 years of Northern Ireland. While in the Memorial Hall, Her Royal Highness unveiled a Centenary Stone which is to be placed permanently in the Museum.
This year the Murray Club has the honour of being to the fore in assuring the traditions of the Association for the 322nd Annual Commemoration of the Shutting of the Gates against the army of King James in 1688.
Each year one of the eight Parent Clubs that are the foundation of the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry have the honour of undertaking the lead role in the traditions of the Association. With the Covid-19 regulations and guidelines in place, the scale of the Commemorations was much reduced.
As is tradition in heralding the day’s events, the firing of a cannon one and three times for the Brave 13, took place at midnight.
This was followed by members of the Murray Club symbolically touching the four gates closed to the armies of King James.
A two storey high Lundy was not burned on Bishop Street following the Service of Thanksgiving at St Columb’s Cathedral. A very much ‘reduced’ Lundy was burned at the start of the day, enabling the tradition to be secured that included the presentation of Lundy’s Soles and the lighting taper to the Murray Club President. The decision on the ultimate recipients of these items will be made when the Parent Club is again able to meet, physically, as a Club.
Starting at the Memorial Hall, thirteen Apprentice Boys – one from each Parent Club, four Officers of General Committee and a Standard Bearer carrying the Crimson – along with a drummer and fluter paraded to the Siege Heroes Mound within the grounds of St Columb’s Cathedral. At the Siege Heroes Mound a wreath was laid by the President of the Murray Parent Club in memory of the Defenders of Derry, and a short service was conducted by Rev. Nigel Cairns of St. Augustine’s Church.
Following which the Apprentice Boys paraded back to the Memorial Hall, the flags that had been erected earlier that morning on Walker’s Plinth were taken down, and the day ended with the close of General Committee which had been opened before the day commenced.
The President of the Murray Club has taken on the role of General Treasurer of the Associated Clubs in recent months, due to the passing of Bro. Alwyn Ferguson earlier this year – the black ribbon was placed on the Crimson in his memory. For that reason, there was also a representative from the Murray Parent Club as one of the eight Parent Club representatives, Bro. David Austin.
The Murray Club would like to thank the following for their advice and support in fulfilling the honour of undertaking the traditions for the 332nd Annual Shutting of the Gate Commemoration: General Secretary of the Associated Clubs, William Moore, for his limitless knowledge of our Association’s traditions; The Governor of the Association, Graham Stenhouse, and the Chairman of the Trustees of the Memorial Hall, Ivan Taylor, for joining us in assuring 13 touched the gates. Thanks too to Donemana Murray for the four members who live in Londonderry, and joined us to touch the Gates. Thanks to Norman Rossborough and Christopher Sherrard for manning the Cannon. Thanks to the Walker Family for all aspects of building and the burning of Lundy, and raising the flags on the plinth. Thanks to Rev. Nigel Cairns, St. Augustine’s Church, for attending the Siege Heroes Mound and leading the short Service. Thanks to Gordon Porter, drum, and Tim Cairns, flute, who accompanied the 13 Apprentice Boys on this unique Commemoration of the Shutting of the Gates. Final thanks to Trevor Boyd and the ABOD Marshals for being there at all times.