The ‘model village’ of Bessbrook is the venue for the County Armagh ‘Twelfth’ demonstration on Monday. It’s the biggest in Northern Ireland, and Portadown (with 28 Orange lodges) is the biggest in the county.
It means an early start for the town’s Orangemen and women, led by District Master Darryl Hewitt and his officers, the Ex-Servicemen’s Lodge and Edgarstown Accordion Band. The parade will leave from Carleton Street at 8am (roll call 7.50).
The plethora of ‘feeder’ parades – from areas like the Birches, Edenderry, Levaghery et alia - will have an even earlier start.
There will be the usual religious service and wreath laying at the war memorial, after which the lodges and bands will make their way to Edenderry to board the fleet of buses.
The parade route in Bessbrook starts at Doctor’s Hill across the Derramore Road into the village at Fountain Street, and on to the demonstration field at Maytown Road. Car parks will be available at Mountnorris Road and along Crabtree Hill, off the main Armagh-Newry Road.
Bessbrook District Master Earl Cartmill has extended a very cordial welcome. “We are especially honoured to have the Grand Master of Ireland, Worshipful Brother Edward Stevenson, with us,” he said. “We are a small district with four lodges and 130 members.”
Stephen Kennedy, assistant minister of Hill Street Presbyterian Church in Lurgan, will deliver the religious address. Stephen, who has just completed a three-year course at Union Theological College in Belfast, is the son of DRD Minister Danny and Karen Kennedy. Orange chaplains also taking part in the field proceedings will be Rev Maurice Laverty, and Rev Will Murphy.
The Portadown Brethren are expected back in town at around 5pm. They will form up at Brownstown Road, and march downtown to Edenderry and back up to the morning’s starting point.