Historical and literary accounts of a military engagement often unanimously extol one outstanding individual as the hero of the battle or campaign. This, however, is not the case with four works authored in the first two decades after the 1689 siege of Londonderry where a variety of individuals – both male and female, human and divine – are championed in a range of literary genre. Two of the authors promote themselves as the heroes of the siege: Rev. George Walker in his journal A True Account of the siege of Londonderry (1689) and John Mitchelburne in his five act tragi-comedy Ireland Preserved or The Siege of Londonderry (1705). The other two texts acknowledge Colonel Adam Murray as the champion of 1689: Rev. John Mackenzie in his history A Narrative of the Siege of Londonderry (1690) and Joseph Aickin in his epic poem Londerias or a Narrative of the Siege of Londonderry (1699). Female contenders for the honor are the Amazons who appear in Mitchelburne’s drama, and the personified city of Londonderry as presented in both literary works. Ultimately all four authors praise God and his Providence as the true victor of the siege.
While the conventions of the literary genre each author selected – journal, drama, history, and epic poem – require certain attributes of the hero, the author’s own ambition, and personal and confessional differences also play a role in the creation of the hero of 1689. Dr. Holland will review the historical significance of the Siege of Londonderry and contrast the fascinating differences among the four pieces of literature with respect to the “hero” extolled.
KAREN A. HOLLAND, Assistant Professor of History, Providence College, teaches courses including Early Modern Ireland and Roman Britain & Early Celtic Ireland. Professor Holland earned her B.A. in English/Education, her M.A. in European History and her Ph.D. from Providence College. Her Master’s thesis and her Ph.D. dissertation dealt with topics of Irish interest: “Lebor Na Cert [The Book of Rights]: Reflection of Medieval Irish Society” and “Joan Desmond, Ormond, and Ossory: The World of a Countess in Sixteenth-Century Ireland”, respectively. Recent publications and current research have focused on biographies of 16th and 17th century Irish and English women. We welcome Professor Holland for this, her second presentation for the Museum.