1615 Great Northern Plot

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.

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.

Derry Walls Day 2015 took place on Sunday 30th August the key elements of which were;

A Royal Audience: An interactive audience with the architects of the Plantation, King James I and the Lord Deputy Chichester in the Guildhall Main Hall.

Trial of the Plotters:  Sir Thomas Phillips, Recorder Carey and Rory O’Cahan in Shipquay Place where the public found themselves as one of the accused or on the jury.

Conserving the Derry Walls: Demonstration of stone-carving and masonry techniques by specialists form Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

The Plotter’s Treasure Hunt . Hero or villain, the fate of the Chieftain’s son looks sealed. The only way of saving him would be to bribe the jurors. Following the trail of museums in and around the City Walls, talking with costumed characters, looking for clues and answering the questions along the way.  Children who had visited the The School for Junior Plotters in 
the Tower Museum were empowered with a secret pass, which when presented
 to the guides at each location resulted in a special clue being revealed. The School was being provided by the Derry Print Workshop and Cara Parks.IMG_9959

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.