The centenary of the siege
In 1789 the cannons roared in peace, the bells rang out and the Protestant and Catholic bishops processed together to St Columb's Cathedral to celebrate the centenary of the siege. To mark the event Bishop Hervey proposed rebuilding Bishop's Gate as a grand new entry to the city. The original design by Henry Aaron Baker featured a large statue of William III on horseback over the arch.
18th April, 1689 was a momentous day in the city's history. It marked the start of the 105 day siege. James II's troops encircled the city. Two thousand residents, a garrison of 7,000 and over 15,000 refugees were packed within the city walls. They met an attack on the gate by James' troops with a hail of bullets and stones. The king waited all day outside Bishop's Gate on horseback in the pouring rain. Some of the men surrounding the king were killed. A personal attack on the king was outright revolution. James retreated and gave orders for a siege.
Defending Bishop's Gate
One of the best views of the walls is from outside Bishop's Gate. In preparation for the 1689 siege, ravelins, earth ramparts in the shape of a triangle, were built outside the main gates. They provided a first line of defence. Houses outside the walls were burned to deny cover to besieging troops.
In 1791 a jail was built in Bishop Street Without to replace the prison in the tower above Ferryquay Gate. Its most famous inmate was Wolfe Tone, a leader of the 1798 uprising for an independent Ireland. The revolt failed and Tone was arrested. He complained about being kept in chains in the jail before being sent for trial to Dublin. The jail was extended around 1820 with a frontage in the style of a castle, of which one turret remains today.