Thousands expected in city for annual Relief of Derry parades

The Millar Memorial Flute Band at the Apprentice Boys Parade in Londonderry on Saturday. Picture Martin McKeown. 02.12.17
The Millar Memorial Flute Band at the Apprentice Boys Parade in Londonderry on Saturday. Picture Martin McKeown. 02.12.17

Thousands will take to the streets on Saturday to help celebrate the annual Apprentice Boys of Derry ‘Relief of Derry’ parade.

The celebrations begin at midnight with the firing of cannon on the city walls.

The cannon is fired each year by members of the organising Parent Club with the assistance of a “cannon crew” from the Crimson Players.

At 9.30am, the eight Parent Clubs parade in order around the Walls, accompanied by their bands with General Committee and their band at the head of the parade.

Following the circuit of the walls, the parade goes along Palace Street and Bishop Street to the Diamond.

After all Brethren and bands are assembled at the Diamond, Governor Bro Graeme Stenhouse will lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of the Association.

Once the service at this is completed, the parade makes its way along Ferryquay Street and Pump Street, to St Columb’s Cathedral where a service of thanksgiving is held from 10.30am.
Following the service, around 12pm, general committee and their band form up outside the Cathedral along with the Crimson Players in period attire. They parade down London Street, Hawkin Street and Carlisle Road, to the end of Craigavon Bridge.

At noon the Crimson Players begin the reenactment of the Relief of Derry.
One of the biggest parades in Northern Ireland, it sees approximately 10,000 Apprentice Boys accompanied by over 100 bands take to the streets.

The parade route begins at Craigavon Bridge, moving up Carlisle Road to the Walled City.

On leaving the City Centre the parade passes through the Fountain estate before crossing Craigavon Bridge.
In the Waterside the parade moves along Spencer Road and turns up Dungiven Road and around Irish Street estate.

The final leg of the parade leaves Irish Street and makes its way down Glendermott Road to Bond Street, where the parade concludes at May Street.
At 5pm the parade returns to the Memorial Hall.

The parade commences at May Street and makes its way via Clooney Terrace and Spencer Road to Craigavon Bridge.

Across the bridge the parade goes up Carlisle Road and back into the Walled City through Ferryquay Gate, onto Ferryquay Street, around the Diamond and up Bishop Street before turning onto Palace Street and Society Street.

The parade concludes with General Committee’s band playing “Derry’s Walls” followed by the National Anthem.

Having endured 105 days of attacks, hunger, disease and death, the inhabitants of Londonderry celebrated the ending of the longest siege in British military history.
 The celebrations have been an annual event since 1690 and are kept alive in much the same format to this day. The main elements of the celebrations have changed little in hundreds of years.
 The crimson flag flies and the bells ring from St Columb’s Cathedral, as requested by Colonel Mitchelburne. 
Although the original cannon on the walls are no longer in working order, a cannon is still fired on the walls. 
And just like in 1690 a parade around the City celebrates the end of the siege.