Battle of the Boyne iPhone calendar reminder confused smartphone users

The commemoration of a Protestant versus Catholic battle from more than 300 years ago has been seared into the brains of most smartphone users in the UK.

That is in no small part due to Apple's iPhone and those with Google calendars on their mobile devices being reminded of the Battle of the Boyne on an annual summer basis.

Who in England, Wales and Scotland hasn’t gone to their boss demanding why they are being deprived of a bank holiday while people in Northern Ireland get to put their feet up?

The bank holiday, however, comes with its own controversies, in a part of the UK still divided along sectarian lines and marred by violence in recent decades.

Here is a look at why the date is in phone calendars and why its commemorations come with community frictions.

What is the Battle of the Boyne?

The July 12 annual bank holiday marks the victory of protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne, north of Dublin, in 1690.

It was a triumph that secured a protestant line of succession to the British Crown.

The result helped protestants secure a strong-hold in the north of Ireland and the commemorations, known locally as The Twelfth, are a contentious issue in the two communities of Northern Ireland.

Members of the Orange Order, founded in 1795 to champion William’s legacy by espousing loyalty to the British crown and the reformed faith, parade through the summer months to celebrate the victory and unionist/loyalist culture.

Why is the Twelfth contentious?

Politics in Northern Ireland has long divided along traditional Catholic/nationalist and protestant/unionist lines.

The celebration of a historic battle fought on religious grounds is viewed very differently by the protestant and Catholic communities in the region.

The Troubles, the 30-year sectarian conflict that blighted Northern Ireland during the latter half of the 20th century, radically altered how the occasion was viewed.

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The routes of certain Orange Order parades became a key point of friction, especially when they went through nationalist-dominated areas.

This sometimes led to widespread rioting and violence.

While Orangemen have insisted thye have the right to parade on public roads, residents in many nationalist neighbourhoods have protested at what they characterised as displays of sectarian triumphalism.

Bonfires lit on the evening of July 11 and into the early hours of July 12 can be family-orientated events, but the larger ones have been known to draw young aggressive crowds.

There have been reports of anti-republican and anti-Papal songs and chants, along with the burning of the Irish tricolour flag.

Why is the Battle of the Boyne in my phone calendar and why can’t I delete it?

The iPhone and the Google calendars keep a full log of all the public or bank holidays in the UK.

This includes those that are solely related to Northern Ireland and Scotland (such as the extra day off at New Year and different summer bank holidays north of the border).

Northern Ireland is also given St Patrick’s Day off, an important day for Irish Catholics as he is the patron saint of the country, while those in England, Wales and Scotland are not.

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If you subscribe to the UK holidays calendars via Apple or Google, then the Battle of the Boyne will be displayed whether you live in Northern Ireland or not.

The alternative is to untick the checkbox on the calendars app but then you would have to manually input the UK bank holidays that relate to your country, or subscribe to a country-specific calendar via a link on the internet.

The trouble is that both those options are cumbersome.

The best option for those annoyed by the regular reminder of a holiday that does not apply to them is to turn off any alarms that are associated with it and try to learn to ignore its annual mention.


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