The Closing of the Gates. When the Catholic King James, claimant to the British throne and then based in France, attempted an attack on Britain he tried to enter by the back door via Ireland. Counting on the support of the Catholic Irish he tried to establish his rule in Ireland and use it as a jumping off point for an intended invasion of the British mainland. The Protestant people of the north were supporters of the incumbent King William (of Orange) and when James's army approached this city they retreated behind the walls. The gates were closed against the approaching army by a group of apprentice boys, two of whom were named Cunningham. The ensuing siege lasted for 105 days (the longest seige in the history of the British Isles) and was a time of great suffering for those in the city who were reduced to eating rats and any thing else they could find. The Apprentice boys actions have been an inspiration to many of the Protestant peoples here since that time.
The siege was eventually broken by the action of the ship Mountjoy. The River Foyle had been blocked by a barrier of tree trunks etc. placed across a narrow section and defended by a battery of guns but the Mountjoy succeeded in breaking through and in the company of others reached the city quayside with its cargo of food, ammunition and other supplies. The besieging army broke camp and left the area.