The idea of animating the Walls with the story of the Siege has been a long-standing ambition of the Maiden City Festival organisers. The Siege Story in its first year had started on the Walls but suffered from the movement of the characters and inability to casually engage visitors and keep the audience as the characters moved from Walls into the Cathedral. Moving wholly into the Cathedral in 2009 hugely benefited the performance which you can see here. www.maidencityfestival.com/siegestory/ But that left the Walls without the story.
In 2010 thanks to funding from the North West Cluster Peace III and the Ulster Scots Agency we were able to develop a series of characters from the Siege to complement the full story being told in the Cathedral. The Siege Tales enabled discussion with visitors on aspects of the Siege, and far greater engagement in the story of the Siege as a consequence.
The importance of the Siege Tales is in providing a link from the Memorial Hall to the Cathedral, or the same route in reverse. This Siege Heroes Trail story line greatly enhanced the total visitor experience. The Festival owes a big thank-you to the team of Tales performers were outstanding ambassadors for the Festival and the city and the historic tale of the Siege of Londonderry.
The Grocer's Widow (outside The Memorial Hall) - Sample, (although you’d be wiser not to), Siege Scone and Meat Surprise Pie or perhaps a quick half of horses blood as the grocer's widow tells you of how she is heroically battling to provide the best she can for her customers from WHATEVER ingredients she can lay her hands on! Actor: Sorcha Shanahan
The Gravedigger (next to St. Augustine's graveyard) - Where once he would have been diligent, this worker now takes his time as he realises that no matter how hard he digs, he's never going to get through the backlog. Actor: Peter Hughes
The Fat Man (Walker's plinth) - A trader recently arrived from Scotland and unable to get back again, he is forced to take shelter within the Walls where, due to his significant girth, he is finding himself the focus for a lot of hungry locals and is trying to keep one step ahead of them before he ends up in the ovens! Actor: Bill Waters
The Jacobite Officer - (on Grand Parade, by the cannon) - This prisoner of war is waiting to be hanged, in retaliation for the Jacobite ploy of forcing people from the outlying districts to the Walls of the Londonderry, knowing that they would be taken in, but that this act of mercy would stretch the besieged resources even further. This French Officer laments that ungracious policy and his own pending doom. Actor: Stephen Bradley
Lundy (Bishop's Gate) - Lundy, the traitor, has been told to leave the city, but the gates are locked and he can't find a ladder! Actor: Hugh McLaughlin
The Artillery Man's Wife (Church Bastion) - Hear the story of the sleep-deprived gunner's wife, whose life has become considerably worse since fourteen refugees from Donegal have been billeted in her house – as this now means she has more guns to clean. Actor: Ashley Downey
Morrison (Church Bastion) - The man who fired the first shot of the Siege, calling for a great gun to frighten the assembling Jacobite forces from outside the gates. Hear this dedicated defender recount his tale, but don’t distract him from his duties. Actor: Patrick McBrearty.