Every day is the 12th of July I was reminded every Saturday growing up in religiously divided Glasgow.
This was how fans of the city’s Protestant club Rangers mark King William’s victory over Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne.
It turns out though that they got their dates wrong and that it should be July 1 they should be marking.
The calendars were reset in the 18th Century and The Boyne got July 12 when that date had belonged to the Battle of Aughrim.
Beyond these castle walls
I gleaned much of the true story from Malahide Castle https://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/ in north Co. Dublin.
I learned that the sitting family back in 1690 settled down for lunch before heading for battle only never to return.
An impressive painting hangs in the Castle dining room of the battle.
And the guide informed us that the figure on canvas that we know and love/hate could not have been King Billy.
No garter you see.
And he was on a white horse too which would have made him easier to spot and kill.
And one of those ubiquitous Belfast black taxi tour drivers verified this very fact.
On the excellent Lucy Worsley’s BBC series British History’s Biggest Fibs https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08cgp55 verified.
The Irish Problem as it was called morphed into The Troubles in the North, or Northern Ireland as it’s officially known.
And one constant throughout has been the symbolism of King Billy whose murals and drapes proliferate throughout the province.
But in truth King Billy’s story stretches throughout the island of Ireland.
And the three countries of the island of Britain.
And his home country of Holland.
For those keenest of Orangemen retracing King Billy’s footsteps here’s an itinerary.
Begin your journey in the Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoom north of Amsterdam https://www.paleishetloo.nl/ and Pictures of Amsterdam.
Land in Brixham, Torbay in Devon like William did www.devonguide.com. It’s a pretty seaside town in England.
And then make your way over by ferry with Stena Line https://www.stenaline.co.uk to Ireland.
There you’ll want to visit the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre http://battleoftheboyne.ie/ in Co. Louth equidistant between Belfast and Dublin in modern Republic of Ireland.
Before heading for Belfast and the Museum of Orange Heritage https://visitbelfast.com/partners/museum-of-orange-heritage/#&gid=1&pid=5.
Just a thought if you’d never heard of King William of Orange might you inadvertently venture in thinking it was a celebration of fruit.
History all around us
And you might be surprised to hear that King William’s place in the Irish cultural landscape isn’t recognised by everyone on the island.
An old colleague I’ll call Simone because that was her name even wrote that King James won the Battle of the Boyne.
Just as well that she had a good editor to stop Irish (and British) history being rewritten for ever.