This western section of the Derry City’s Wall, between Double Bastion and Butcher Gate, is the widest section of the Wall and is known as Grand Parade. What a great stretch of the Wall it is for those seeking to promenade. It was quite amazing to recall as I stroll along here that these walls are 400 years old and to think about the history under my feet and all around me. In addition to the strategic importance of this section of the Wall it has always been a preferred part of the Wall for a walk or other exercise.
From this part of the Wall you get excellent views down into the Catholic Bogside area and further afield. I have mentioned in my People’s Gallery Mural reviews how great care was exercised in selecting a mural (Death of Innocence) for a gable wall in the Bogside which is in clear view of people looking down from Grand Parade. I imagine that in earlier and indeed more recent times the residents on and below the Wall were not as discerning in what they displayed lest it might cause offence to the other party.
The view afforded into the Catholic Bogside made this section of the Wall an obvious choice of location for an army base during the Troubles. In fact there were a number of army bases on the Walls during the Troubles – none of which remain to-day.
In the early 19th century 14 sycamore trees where planted along Grand Parade. If you have read others of my reviews you will have already surmised that 13 of the trees represented the 13 apprentice boys who closed the City Wall’s gates against an advance party of James II on 7 December 1688. The 14th tree commemorated James Morrison who was present at Ferryquay Gate to greet the Jacobites, in the form of the Earl of Antrim’s Redshanks. It is recorded that Morrison shouted “ Bring a Great Gun here” at which the Redshanks fled.
The sycamore tree was chosen at its fruit resembles a bunch of keys – symbolising the locked gates confronting James’ armies. The last of the original trees was blown down in a gale in 1940 and the ones you see today are replacements.
This entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on many trips to Londonderry/Derry. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Roaring Meg and other Cannons – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – The City on the Foyle.