Derry - Enniskillen - Boyne - Aughrim

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Many of the banners carried by members of the Orange Order in their annual ‘Twelfth of July’ marches in Northern Ireland have as part of their decoration the four words: Derry, Enniskillen, Boyne, and Aughrim. All are the names of places in Ireland which witnessed victories for the Protestant forces of King William III in the so-called Williamite War in Ireland (1688-1691), i.e., the war fought by King William against King James II, who had been deposed in 1688 and was attempting to gain control of Ireland in the hope of using it as a base for an attempt to regain the English throne.

Derry commemorates the defeat on 28th July 1689 of the Jacobite forces which had been besieging the city of Londonderry (Derry) since December of the previous year; Enniskillen refers to the Williamite victory on 31st July 1689 at the Battle of Newtownbutler, near Enniskillen (a town in County Fermanagh in the west of what is now Northern Ireland); the river Boyne was the scene of a very significant victory for William on 1st July 1690; and the Battle of Aughrim (in County Galway in the west of Ireland), fought on 12th July 1691, marked the final failure of James’s campaign. The Williamite War in Ireland war ended with the Treaty of Limerick, 1691.

The four Williamite victories commemorated on the banners carried in the ‘Twelfth of July’ marches are also celebrated in the song The Sash My Father Wore, a song popular with members and supporters of the Orange Order. Its chorus runs:

It is old but it is beautiful, and its colours they are fine.
It was worn at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen, and the Boyne.
My father wore it as a youth, in bygone days of yore.
And on the Twelfth I love to wear the sash my father wore.