There wasn’t a hint of a protest – not even from the Parades Commission - after the members of Mullabrack LOL 1406 didn’t bother to ask for permission to ‘march’ a brand new route, which took them to a high point in their history.
The only complaint was from aching limbs after the 15 members made it to the top of Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s highest peak at 850 metres, in full regalia and with the lodge’s distinctive banner.
And don’t ask them about the spectacular views across the various peaks or down to Newcastle and beyond, nestling along the County Down coast, where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea. The weather blocked them out completely.
For it poured rain and howled wind most of the time – so much so that they folded their precious banner, exposing it to the roaring elements only for a moment or two to record their great achievement on camera.
The reason for their exertions couldn’t have been better. They strained muscle and sinew to raise much-needed funds for the Southern Area Hospice in Newry, which gives miraculous care to those with terminal illness.
Lodge secretary Lewis Singleton was delighted with the effort, that the total is moving towards the £2,500 mark, and that the young lions of the lodge organised the event, “with the horrible weather giving us all a great sense of achievement”.
He added that the older ones among the climbers felt the pace at 650 metres – “and felt like throwing in the towel!” – but once they made it to 750, with the encouragement of the young ones, nothing was going to stop them.
“They were as fit as fiddles and some had even done the climb in training,” said Lewis. “It was a great day out despite the wind and the rain.”
They unfurled the banner at the top. It shows Mullabrack Parish Church on one side and the late Charles Spence – a member who was murdered by the PIRA in the early ‘90s – on the other.
Deputy Master David Andrews also made the heady climb, which took two-and-and-half hours to get to the peak and two hours to get down - “but it was worth it for such a wonderful charity”.