Monday, 14 December 2009

Derry's Walls

The Scottish historian Ian S Wood was a lecturer at Napier University in Edinburgh and a tutor with the Open University.  He is also a member of the Scottish Labour history Society and served as editor of the society's journal from 1974 to 1989.  Wood has written and edited several books including Scotland and Ulster.

He was the expert to whom the News of the World (13 December 2009) turned to get an opinion on the traditional Orange song, Derry's Walls.  According to Wood:

Derry's Walls is a celebration of an iconic moment in loyal Ulster history.  It goes on to describe the events of the siege, the blockade, the privations of the siege and the breaking of the blockade on Lough Foyle.
From a historian's point of view it's not a bad description of a sequence of events.
You should NOT see it as a localised sectarian event.  There was more to it than that.

The time has scarce gone by boys
Three hundred years ago
When rebels on old Derry's Walls
Their faces dare not show
When James and all his rebel band
Came up to Bishops Gate
With heart and hand and sword and shield
We caused them to retreat.

Then fight and don't surrender
But come when duty calls,
With heart and hand and sword and shield
We'll guard old Derry's Walls.

The blood did flow in crimson streams
Through many a winter's night
They knew the Lord was on their side
To help them in the fight
They only stood upon the walls
Determined for to fight,
To fight and gain the victory
And hoist the Crimson high;

At last, at last, with one broad side,
Kind heaven sent us aid,
The boom was broke that crossed the Foyle was broke
And James he was dismayed
The banner, boys, that floated
Was run aloft with joy,
God bless the hands that broke the boom,
And saved the Apprentice Boys!

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