For the uninformed this is indeed a very peculiar sight – a well preserved (in fact, totally refurbished in 2013) fenced in statue-less plinth.
Until blown up by Republican terrorists on 27 August 1973 this plinth, on Derry’s Walls, sported a 25 metres high column topped by a 5 metres high statue of the Reverend George Walker who had one arm outstretched towards the breached boom on the River Foyle. The breaching of the boom in 1689 lead to the relief of Derry from its famous 105 day siege – the longest in British History. The monument, overlooking the Catholic Bogside, was built in 1826-28 and had an internal spiral staircase of 105 steps allowing access to a viewing platform on top.
Walker, prior to his arrival in Derry just days before James II approached Bishop’s Gate on the 18 April, 1689 had been involved in a number of anti Jacobite actions to the south of the city. By the time of Walker’s arrival, Governor Lundy had given up hope for the City and indeed on the 17th of April proposed that the citizens surrender to James II on his imminent arrival. The citizens were outraged and Lundy fled the City under the cover of darkness. On the 18th James was advised that there would be no surrender.
On the 19th of April 1689 Walker and Major Baker were appointed Joint Governors of the City and eight regiments were formed to defend the City. Walker remained Governor throughout the Siege and that Derry did not fall to James is in no small measure due to Walker’s governorship. Having secured the City of Derry for William III, Walker died in the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, to the north of Dublin, whereat William III finally defeated James.
The inscription to the memorial, which remains in place reads:
“This monument was erected to perpetuate the memory of Rev. George Walker who, aided by the garrison and brave inhabitants of this city, most gallantly defended through a protracted siege, from the 7th December 1688 to the 1st August following, against an arbitrary and bigoted monarch, heading an army of upwards of 20,000 men, many of whom were foreign mercenaries, and by such valiant conduct in numerous sorties and by patiently enduring extreme privations and sufferings, successfully resisted the besiegers and preserved for their posterity the blessings of civil and religious liberty.”
My second picture is an old one showing the monument pre 1973. It is from the Archiseek website. Archiseek is an online magazine dedicated to, but not exclusively to, Irish architecture.
Address: City Walls – West Side
Directions: Opposite St Augustine’s Church
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 – Walker Memorial Courtyard – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – The City on the Foyle.