Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

The 12th of July – some myths debunked

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.

On the white charger; The Orange Heritage Museum

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.

Charge: But is it William? www.laganhistory.com

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.

What’s missing?

No garter you see.

Wall, what is it good for? www.extramuralactivity.com

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.

Northern Exposure

The Irish Problem as it was called morphed into The Troubles in the North, or Northern Ireland as it’s officially known.

Keep the orange flag flying high

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.

Flying Dutchman

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.

I’ve landed: William of Orange of Devon

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.

A dash of Orange

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.

And for a glimmer of Northern Irish life see Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

Uncategorized

The real King Billy

The 12th of July… the day King William III’s triumphs are celebrated in Northern Ireland and among all peoples for whom his victory at the Battle of Boyne protected their values and traditions.

But how much do we really know about King Billy?

Well, Malahide Castle can reveal all.

Firstly that iconic image of King Billy on his white charger may be misleading.

He was really rather small, and asthmatic. Though probably not as small as this image is shown here… it’s bigger in the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

Our guide on our visit to the Castle pointed out that the painting in the dining room shows that the heroic figure on the horse is probably a general and not William as he is not wearing the royal garter.

Fourteen members of the Talbot family, who built the castle, died at the battle fighting for the Jacobites.

William would also have probably been further back from the battle.

And not on that horse. His was more likely to be brown as white would have made him more of an easy target. And he would more than likely have walked across the Boyne rather than ride across it.

And ouch, worst of all, we’ve missed the real date. That was July 1, 1690. Somebody made a mistake when they changed to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752 and with the new dates it is July 11.

Of course it’s best to do your own homework so visit Malahide Castle. http://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/castle.

Or learn more about the murals in Belfast with Paddy Campbell’s Black Cab Tours. http://www.belfastblackcabtours.co.uk.

And maybe also take in the Orange Museum in Belfast http://www.orangeheritage.co.uk which has a green frontage.

And also visit http://www.visitbelfast.com.