King William arrives at Carrickfergus Castle in June 1969. Picture: News Letter archives
King William arrives at Carrickfergus Castle in June 1969. Picture: News Letter archives

THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: King William lands at Carrickfergus

From the News Letter, June, 1949

Monday, 14th June 2021, 10:00 am

“When King William the Third landed at Carrickfergus on Saturday for the fourth time since the annual Orange pageant in the town was started, the proceedings were more true to life than on previous occasions,” declared the News Letter on this day in 1949.

The reason for that, noted the News Letter, was that Carrickfergus was later that month to regain the borough status which it had enjoyed when the real King William landed at four o’clock on the afternoon of June 14, 1690, to take personal command of his armies in the field and put the seal on the defeat of the Jacobite forces.

Waiting to greet the King then when he walked forward to the harbour head from the flat stone, now known as King William’s Stone, was the Mayor, Richard Dobbs. And notably, in 1949, the part of the Mayor in the pageant that year was played by a descendant of the original Mayor – Captain R Dobbs – and, as on that previous occasion, he presented the keys of the fortress to the King.

The News Letter reported: “Traditionally, these were returned to the safekeeping of the Mayor, who had suffered cruelly during the Jacobite occupation of the town.”

And so it was that on Saturday, June 11, 1949 had again been “occupied”, but this time by thousands of supporters of the Williamite cause, Orange brethren, from all parts of the province, including Londonderry, Enniskillen and Limavady, watched the landing at the historic castle and afterwards enjoyed the parade by His Majesty through the narrow streets of the town on a white horse, accompanied by soldiers in seventeenth century costume.

Do you have any old photographs or video footage of bygone pageants at Carrickfergus? We would love to see them. Get in touch via email at [email protected].

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