It was a long day for Portadown’s 28 Orange lodges as they took part in the County Armagh Twelfth demonstration on Saturday - an 8am start from Carleton Street, stretching into the early evening when they returned to town from Markethill.
It was an even earlier start for the outlying ‘country’ lodges as they made their way into town to swell the numbers of the biggest district in the biggest demonstration in Northern Ireland, with the County Armagh event reportedly having overtaken Belfast.
It began with a double wreath-laying ceremony, with the No 1 District honouring the memory of all Brethren who died in the various conflicts. And a second wreath was laid at the town’s War Memorial to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War. All Worshipful Masters of the district lined up.
Then, led by District Master Darryl Hewitt and his team of officers, it was down to Edenderry to board the buses for the 10-mile journey to Markethill, where Portadown joined the other 10 districts in the county for a jamboree day.
Markethill, where Lewis Singleton is the district master, was ablaze with colour, packed with Brethren, bands and supporters - and reverberated with plenty of noise. Not least the thundering Lambegs, with Portadown, Loughgall, Tandragee and Markethill particular hot beds for the famed drum.
Some 154 lodges, around 5,000 Orangemen and women - not forgetting juniors - took part in the parade out to the field at Mowhan Road.
There was all the fun of the fair for the children. The chair for the act of worship and resolutions was occupied by County Grand Master Denis Watson and the service was conducted by Rev Dr Alan McCann, County Grannd Chaplain. The address was by Cecil Allen, Deputy County Grand Chaplain, and District Chaplain of Portadown District No 1.
The return to Portadown was nicely on schedule, with the 28 lodges leaving the field at around 3.30pm and starting their parade back through Portadown at around 5pm. The route was from Brownstown down to Edenderry and back up-town to Carleton Street.
En route uptown - at the ‘Regal’ roundabout - there was a six-minute protest against the banning of number of parades in Northern Ireland. Twaddell Avenue in Belfast received most of the provincial publicity, but Drumcree and Victoria Terrace in Portadown were foremost in the mind in Portadown while a protest statement was read out.
Then it was back to Carleton Street for dismissal and reflection another Twelfth.