Apprentice Boys of Derry Association are an historical organisation whose members are committed to maintaining the spirit of liberty displayed by the Apprentice Boys in 1688 against oppression. The Apprentice Boys perpetuate that spirit of liberty, inherent to the Reformed Protestant faith, by faithfully commemorating the “Derry Celebrations” within the Maiden City and in other localities, keeping alive the memory of the Brave 13 and the heroic sacrifices of the besieged within the Walls. The Association raises its profile to audiences beyond the City, through parades, exhibitions, lectures and any other appropriate means of communication.
Each year the Apprentice Boys of Derry celebrate two dates in the city of Londonderry. First, the closing of the City Gates by thirteen young Apprentices against the enemy forces on 18th December (New Calendar). And second, when the City was relieved after the Siege, having held out and not surrendered despite about 10,000 of the defenders dying in Her defence, on 12th August (New Calendar).
Those celebrations take the form of a parade by the organisation to and from a Church Service held in the historic Saint Columb's, Church of Ireland (Anglican), Cathedral. The organisation has some 10,000 members, who converge on Londonderry to take part in the commemorative parade though the City. A wreath of Remembrance is laid at the City’s Memorial to remember all those who have died over the centuries, including the First and Second World Wars, defending our heritage of civil and religious liberty for all.
The Siege of Londonderry in the years 1688-1689 played a very important role in securing the victory of the Williamite forces in Britain, and indeed parts of Europe. The success of King William III and the Glorious Revolution effectively stopped the building of a tyrannical empire by Louis XIV of France and his ally, the deposed King of England, James II. The theory of the Divine right of Kings was replaced by reforms put in place by King William III and Queen Mary, establishing the supremacy of parliamentary democracy and basic freedoms of the rule of law that we enjoy today.