Londonderry was attacked by the Irish insurgents
City was attacked by anti-Parliamentarian forces
Besieged for 105 days by Jacobite troops – the most significant The three attacks were considerable, for many of the young settlement’s buildings had been destroyed, including the Market-House in the Diamond, the Cathedral tower and roof, and much of the walls and gates.
James II, a Catholic, was deposed by his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, in a bloodless coup known as the Glorious Revolution.
James fled to France and landed in Ireland, hoping to incite his Catholic supporters there and regain the British throne. Aided by French forces, James captured Dublin in late March and in April marched on Londonderry, the northern town where Irish supporters of Britain had fled.
News of the ‘Comber Letter’, which threatened a massacre of the Protestant settler population arrived in Derry.
James, having encircled Londonderry, began a bombardment of the fortified city, causing devastating fires and significant loss of life. However, despite this and other assaults, the city refused to surrender, and its poorly supplied defenders managed to repulse repeated attacks from James’ soldiers. The greatest trial the besieged had to face was occasioned by the lack of adequate provisions. Those who remained within the walls when the siege began have been variously estimated to number between 20,000 and 30,000.
After 105 days of siege, British forces arrived to relieve the defiant Protestant city, and James retreated. Eleven months later, at the Battle of Boyne in eastern Ireland, James suffered a final defeat against the forces of William and Mary. The city took a long time to recover from the Siege of 1688-9. Westminster voted ten thousand pounds in aid to the ruined city, but the money was never paid out.
A report recorded that sixty tons from the Society’s forests were made available ‘towards rebuilding the market-house, repairing the gates and other public buildings in Derry’, and in December ‘one hundred and twenty tons of timber, and forty thousand laths, were allowed for building the town-house of Derry’. A resolution, expressing condemnation of the plot was copied into the minute book on 16 April 1696 ‘with the names of all the Subscribers’. The names of 226 people, listed in three columns, are a form of census of the walled city at this time.
Ferryquay Gate is located on the site of one of the four original gates. The gate originally had a drawbridge and tower; this was replaced by the present day gate in 1866. It probably led down to the ferry and later, to the first city bridge. It was this gate that on December 7th 1688 was closed by the thirteen apprentices to prevent Jacobite troops entering the city, leading to the siege of 1689. The later carved heads represent the Revs George Walker and James Gordon.
Shipquay Gate is one of the four original gates into the 17th-century city, although the structure we see here today was built in 1805. The River Foyle originally flowed up to the foot of the city walls here and ships that entered Lough Foyle moored close by for people and goods to be unloaded. The present structure was built in the first decade of the 19th century of ashlar sandstone and has a single elliptical-arched opening.
Butcher Gate was one of the four original city gates, but the structure you see today was rebuilt in 1810. It is constructed from a mixture of buff and red ashlar sandstone and has a single elliptical-arched opening over which the walkway is humped.
Bishop’s Gate was one of the four original entrances to the city. The current gate was erected in 1789 in commemoration of the 1689 siege. It was built in the style of a triumphal arch to celebrate the centenary of the ‘Shutting of the Gates’. The gate is constructed from buff ashlar sandstone and has a central semi-circular-arched vehicular opening flanked by two flat-arched pedestrian passages. The architect was H.A. Baker, with the sculpted head keystones representing the River Foyle (external) and the River Boyne (internal) designed by Edward Smyth, who had sculptured the thirteen riverine heads on the Dublin Custom House in c.1784. On either side of the gate are steps giving access to the City Walls.
New Gate was first opened by the Corporation in 1787. Before this an opening had been made in the wall at this point allowing access to Wapping Lane (now Fountain Street). However, the opening was re-enforced into a gateway as tensions arose just before the United Irishmen Rising of 1798. The Gate was later replaced by the present segmental-arched opening in 1866.
Castle Gate is the smallest and one of the least elaborate of the city’s gates. It was opened through the walls in 1802, and is mainly constructed from uncoursed rubble shale and has a single segmental-arched opening over which the walkway is humped. It is used only for pedestrian access. An Irish Fortified House of the O’Doherty’s of Inishowen was once located near this site inside the present City Walls.
Magazine gate was built in 1865. Recently restored cannon are mounted on replicas of mid-17th-century block carriages. The two cannon closest to Shipquay Gate bear the Tudor rose-and-crown emblem; one has a date stamp of 1590. The gate is built of rubble stone with ashlar sandstone dressings. It has a single segmental-arched opening.
This is one of the original four city gates with the present archway dating from 1805. The interior face of the gate has on each side a circular frame - on the left hand side is a cornucopia and on the right hand side is a caduceus. On the exterior face there are similar frames without ornaments. The original gate would have had a tower and portcullis as this gate was the main point of entry from the river.
This original gate was the most damaged gate during the siege of 1689. The gate was rebuilt in 1790 and takes its name from the street inside - Butcher Street, were the towns’ butchers had their shops.
This original gate was replaced in 1789 by the present structure - a triumphal arch. This was to mark the first centenary of the closing of the gates by The Apprentice Boys of Derry. The architect was H.A. Baker, with the sculpted heads representing the River Foyle (external) and the River Boyne(internal) designed by Edward Smyth, who had sculptured the thirteen riverine heads on the Dublin Custom House in c.1784. On either side of the gate are steps giving access to the City Walls.
This gate is one of the four original gateways; it overlooked the ferryquay on the River Foyle. The gate originally had a drawbridge and Tower; this was replaced by the present day gate in 1865. Famously this was the gate closed by the Apprentice Boys of Derry in December 1688 against the Jacobite army of James II. The headstone on the outside of the gate represents Reverend George Walker, Governor of Derry in 1689. The headstone on the inside of the gate is of Reverend James Gordon.
This gate is one of two added to the walls below Butcher Gate, it was built between 1805-1808. An old Irish Fortified House of the O’Doherty’s of Inishowen was once located near this site inside the present City Walls.
This gate was added to the walls c.1790’s, before this an opening had been made in the wall at this point allowing access to Wapping Lane (now Fountain Street). However the opening was re-inforced into a gateway as tensions arose just before the United Irishmen Rising of 1798.
This gate was added to the walls c.1888 to allow additional access to the river front
The Annals of Derry showing the rise and progress of the town from the earliest accounts on record to the Plantation under King James, by Robert Simpson, Londonderry-Hempton 1947.