IT was the usual early morning start for Portadown’s Orangemen yesterday (Thursday) as they headed off to Keady for the annual County Armagh Twelfth demonstrations.
As one of the first of the county’s 11 districts to arrive at the field, the parade stepped out at 8.15am, led by District Master Darryl Hewitt and his officers. Edgarstown Accordion Band was the first musical ensemble on parade, followed by Portadown Ex-Servicemen’s LOL 81, then the women’s lodges, the junior women’s lodges and the first of the remaining 25 lodges on the march, the first of which was Brackagh Leading Heroes LOL 7.
Missing this year was Derryhale Lodge, as a mark of respect for their esteemed member Tom Johnston, who died this week.
After the laying of the wreath at the War Memorial, it was off to the buses to make the South Armagh village on time, so that the tight timetable could be observed.
Over in Keady, the local district led the major parade and it was followed by Richhill. Killylea, Newtownhamilton, Portadown, Lurgan, Armagh, Markethill, Bessbrook, Tandragee and Loughgall.
The demonstration in County Armagh - ‘The County of the Diamond’ where the Orange Order was formed - is now the biggest in Northern Ireland, with membership in Belfast decreasing.
At the field, at Crossmore Road, the chair was occupied by the County Grand Master, Denis Watson, and the traditional religious service was conducted by Rev Dr Alan McCann, the new County Grand Chaplain. The Act of Remembrance was undertaken by Rev Maurice Laverty, Deputy County Grand Chaplain, and the address by Pastor Gordon Graham, Deputy County Grand Chaplain and District Chaplain of Tandragee District LOL No 4.
After the service, the main speaker was Robert Saulters, Immediate Past Grand Master of Ireland, who proposed and spoke to the Third Resolution on The State.