Leading US-based Historian to deliver Friday evening’s 2016 Walls400 History Lecture

Leading US-based Historian to deliver Friday evening’s 2016 Walls400 History Lecture at which 400 year old ‘LondonDerre’ and ‘O’Doherty’ Civic Swords of State will be rededicated.

The 2016 Walls400 History Lecture will take place in the historic surroundings of St Columb’s Cathedral and will be delivered by Dr Breandán Mac Suibhne, of Centenary University, New Jersey. The lecture will also see history being remade when the civic swords of state, presented 400 years ago this year, are rededicated and presented back to the new district council in a ceremony with living history performers from London and Galway.


Dr Mac Suibhne is an historian of society and culture in modern Ireland, with a particular interest in the history of north-west Ulster and is well placed to speak to us on the connected history of ‘The Maiden City and the City of Brotherly Love: Derry and Philadelphia’. Looking forward to his talk, Dr MacSuibhne explained why a deeper discussion of the relationship between Derry and Philadelphia in the late 1700s will provide interesting insights ” It is a great honour to participate in this event marking both the 400th anniversary of the presentation of the ‘LondonDerre’ Sword and Dean Morton’s appointment to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. Late eighteenth-century Derry merchants had very close connections with their counterparts in Philadelphia, a city that was central to the American Revolution; and in the nineteenth century, north-west Ulster was a labour pool for the coal mines and canals of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia remains the enduring US reference point point for Derry, Donegal and Tyrone.”

PHOTO 2 DERRY WALLS DAY 2016 LondonDerre Sword Detail

400 years ago this year in 1616, two commissioners from the City of London, Merchant Taylor Matthias Springham and Alderman Richard Proby, arrived in Derry to inspect progress on the building of the Derry Walls. In contrast with previously slow progress since the Walls were started in 1613, during their visit to Derry in 1616 Springham and Proby found the walls half-built with two drawbridges and one gate in place. As a result the commissioners presented a ceremonial sword of state to the Mayor in Derry, engraved with the name “Londonderre” on its golden pommel. That 1616 sword has remained in the city ever since, and during tomorrow evening’s lecture, it and its O’Doherty counterpart will be rededicated back into the care of the new District Council.

The Walls400 History Lecture takes place in St Columb’s Cathedral at 8pm on Friday 16th September. There will be an ‘Afterparty’ with refreshments and living history in the Verbal Arts Centre until 10pm. Tickets are £8 (£5) as a donation to the Walled City Archaeology Fund. Details at http://www.thederrywalls.com/events


Culzean Castle and the Derry Walls

Earls of Cassillis Culzean Castle near Maybole, Carrick on the Ayrshire coast is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It is the ancestral home of the Earls of Cassillis and chieftains of the Clan Kennedy. In the churchyard of St Columb’s Cathedral is a tombstone emblazoned with the coat of arms of the Earls of Cassillis. There are no other markings on the tombstone but it is presumed that it marks the burial place of the Kennedys of Derry (and Clogher), who claimed descent from the Earls of Cassillis. Two of the individuals buried here are Cornet Henry Kennedy who died during the 1688-9 Siege of Derry and his nephew, Alderman Horas Kennedy 1652-1714, who as Sheriff had ridden out from Derry with the Deputy Mayor on the 7th December 1688 to meet the Earl of Antrim’s Regiment which had come to take possession of the City.

The same coat of arms can been seen at the Beech Hill Country House Hotel, the demesne of which had fallen to George Crookshank Kennedy Skipton. One of his daughters is buried in the grave in St Columb’s Cathedral, Derry.