100 days – Day 81: 12 July Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, 1690
The Battle of the Boyne was fought in July, 1690 on the banks of the Boyne River near the town of Dorgheda on the east coast of Ireland. One one side was King James II (seen to champion the Catholic faith); on the other – Prince William of Orange (who became King William III) – for the Protestant cause.
This ancient battle lives on in the minds of sectarian Protestants and still plays a role in the cultural and political life of many people in Northern Ireland (and West and Central Scotland)
- Modern analysis of documents from the time suggests that Catholics and Protestants fought on both sides.
- The large banners carried by Orange lodges routinely feature images of “King Billy” on a white horse, prancing across the waters of the River Boyne, sword outstretched in martial ardour.
In reality, William of Orange rode a chestnut horse. He could not have wielded his sword since his right arm was in a sling after suffering a slight shoulder wound from a Jacobite cannon shot while reconnoitring the battlefield the previous evening. So far from galloping across the river, William’s horse became hopelessly bogged down in mud in the shallows of the south bank, from which he had to be extricated by an Inniskilling trooper named MacKinlay.
- Although the Battle of the Boyne is now commemorated on July 12, it was held on July 1, 1690.
The shift in the date is due to the changeover from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.
In Ireland, the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1752 and September 14 followed September 2. Many dates in the calendar were mapped into the new calendar without a correction.
However, the Orange orders were suspicious of the Gregorian calendar and its papist connections and continued to march on the corrected date of July 12.
An Irish Catholic walks into a pub on the Shankill, sits downs and starts to make conversation with a man at the next table.
“Want to hear the world’s worst Orangeman Joke?” he says.
“Aye, but before you tell it, let me tell you something. See those two bikers over there by the door, those tough-looking boys? They’re Orangemen. And the two fellas with the tattoos playing snooker? They’re Orangemen too! The barman?? An Orangeman!! And one more thing, sonny, I’m an Orangeman as well!!! Now….. do you still want to tell that joke?
” “God no!”, replies the Catholic guy, “I don’t want to have to explain it six times!”