Derry Walls Day takes place on Friday 16th September, which is also Culture Night. The key events are The Swordsmith’s Treasure Hunt 4-7pm around the Walled City’s Museums plus the Walls400 History Lecture at 8pm in St. Columb’s Cathedral. There will be a Living History Afterparty in the Verbal Arts Centre at 9pm. Full details at www.thederrywalls.com/events
The Great Northern Plot of 1615
The Friends of the Derry Walls have announced that 2015 Walls400 History Lecture will be delivered by Raymond Gillespie, Professor of History at Maynooth University on the theme of ‘The Great Northern Plot of 1615’. Lecture will commence at 7pm on Saturday 14th November in the historic surroundings of St Columb’s Cathedral. Details at http://www.thederrywalls.com/2015-walls400-lecture
In 1615, Rory O’Cahan, the chieftain’s son was accused of leading the Great Northern Plot, an event which prompted a greater haste by the Londoners in building the Derry Walls. Four hundred years on, rediscover the story of these events: exploring the Walled City’s museums, meeting characters straight from the pages of Derry’s history and winning prizes!
Sunday 30th August 12.30-5.30pm Guildhall Square and in civic and voluntary museums, in and around the Derry Walls. Registration for the Plotter’s Treasure Hunt will open at 12.30 in the Friends of the Derry Walls stall in Guildhall Square. Groups on the Treasure Hunt will gain free access to the participating museums. The stall in Guildhall Square will remain open until 6pm to allow the return of completed forms.
A Royal Audience: Take part in an interactive audience with the architects of the Plantation, King James I and the Lord Deputy Chichester. 1.30pm 2.30pm 3.30pm – Guildhall Main Hall
Trial of the Plotters: Join Sir Thomas Phillips, Recorder Carey and Rory O’Cahan and you could find yourself as one of the accused or on the jury. 1.00pm 2.00pm 3.00pm – Guildhall Square
Conserving the Derry Walls: Demonstration of stone-carving and masonry techniques by specialists form Northern Ireland Environment Agency. 12.30pm – 5.30pm – Guildhall Square
The Plotter’s Treasure Hunt 12.30pm – 5.30pm at participating civic and voluntary museums on and around the Derry Walls. Hero or villain, the fate of the Chieftain’s son looks sealed. The only way of saving him would be to bribe the jurors. Follow the trail of museums in and around the City Walls, talking with costumed characters, looking for clues and answering the questions along the way. Each correct answer is worth one piece of gold. There are 10 pieces of gold to collect in total; get them all to be in with a chance of winning the prizes! Children who have visited the The School for Junior Plotters in the Tower Museum will have been empowered with a secret pass, which when presented to the guides at each location will result in a special clue being revealed. The School is being provided by the Derry Print Workshop and Cara Parks.
Correctly completed Plotter’s Treasure Hunt forms will be entered into a draw for the following prizes:
- 1st Prize £100 of local shopping vouchers.
- 4 runner-up prizes each of £50 of local shopping vouchers.
- a special prize of £30 of local shopping vouchers to the best ‘Walls400-selfie’ ie taken with a historical performer (or wearing period costumes provided in First Derry, St Columba’s Heritage Center and The Guildhall) and posted by 5.00pm Monday 31st to Twitter including @thederrywalls in the message.
- a special prize of £30 of local shopping vouchers for the first correctly and fully completed form received back at the Registration Tent on the day. The form will still be entered into the draw for the 1st and runner-up prizes.
Plotter’s Treasure Hunt forms must be returned to the Registration Stall in Guildhall Square by 6.00pm or at any of the participating museums by 5.30pm. A bag of ‘gold’ chocolate coins will be awarded for all completed forms received at the Registration Stall.
Anyone can register to take part in the Plotter’s Treasure Hunt, either as an individual or as team or family group. However the form must be entered by an person aged 16 or over.
Participating museums include The Guildhall, Tower Museum, Bluecoats Museum at First Derry, St Augustine’s Church, The Siege Museum temporarily located in St Augustine’s Church Hall, The Chapter House Museum in St Columb’s Cathedral, St Columba’s Heritage Centre at the Long Tower, and the Museum of Free Derry temporarily located at the bottom of Shipquay Street.
Living history performers are provided by Past Pleasures Ltd– Guildhall and Guildhall Square , Footprints – Bluecoats Museum, Blue Eagle Productions – St Augustine’s Churchyard and the Siege Museum and Sean O’ Brogain – St Columba’s Heritage Centre.
Derry Walls Day is an initiative of Friends of the Derry Walls, supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the DOE NI Environment Agency and the Heritage Council of Ireland. Each year between 2013 and 2018, the Friends of the Derry Walls will mark another year in the quadricentennial of the building of the Derry Walls – Walls400; it took five years to construct the Walls from 1613 until 1618. Derry Walls Day 2015 is part of National Heritage Week organised by the Heritage Council of Ireland as part of European Heritage Days. The Friends of the Derry Walls are members of the Irish Walled Towns Network and the European Walled Towns Association.
On this date four centuries ago, 31st July 1615, the trial of 17 native Irishmen, accused of being involved in the Great Northern Plot, was brought to a conclusion in the half-built Plantation city of Londonderry. Six of them were found guilty and were executed; some historians claim they were hanged, drawn and quartered, their heads afterwards being set up on the rudimentary city gates.
This event had significant implications for the relationships between the native Irish and the English and Scottish settlers in County Derry; it also spurned on the Irish Society to start building the Derry Walls in earnest; orphans from Christ’s Hospital in London were sent to Derry to be apprentices for that purpose.
Mark Lusby, Project Coordinator for the Friends of the Derry Walls remarked, “The landscape of the City we live in today and the richness of our cultural identity was shaped by these tumultuous events four centuries ago. During each year of the 5-year quadricentennial, 2013-18, of the building of the Derry Walls, the Friends organise events unpacking that history and exploring the legacy. In 2013 it was the marking out of the ground on which the Walls were to be built; in 2014 it was the appointment of Peter Benson, a master tiler and bricklayer from London, as the contractor to build the Walls. 2015 gives us an opportunity to give voice, in the story of the construction of the Walls, to the native Irish who were trying to find space alongside the English and Scots settlers. In this way Walls400 is kept in the public eye, building up each year to a major Derry Walls heritage year in 2018.”
The Friends of the Derry Walls, a local voluntary sector organisation with the objective of promoting the heritage value of the city’s greatest visitor attraction, will be organising, later this year, a lecture on the Great Northern Plot of 1615. Details will be published in the local press.
The photograph is a gruesome depiction in Derry’s Tower Museum of the severed head of Rory O’Cahan, resting on the half-built Derry Walls. Rory O’Cahan was the son of Sir Donnell Ballagh O’Cahan, clan leader of the O’Kanes, who himself in 1615, was imprisoned in the Tower of London.