County Armagh will again hold the biggest demonstration in the world of Orangeism on The Twelfth (Wednesday), with Richhill the host district.
The village will be alive to the sound of music and Lambegs for most of the day, with the 11 districts of the Orchard County converging on Northern Ireland’s most consistently ‘Best Kept Village’. The districts are - Portadown, Richhill, Killylea, Loughgall, Lurgan, Newtownhamilton, Markethill, Armagh, Tandragee, Bessbrook and Keady.
Portadown, whose 29 lodges constitute the biggest district of all, will have its roll call at 8am in Carleton Street, and will be the first of the visiting districts to arrive in Richhill, where the Brethren of the village will lead off.
The Portadown parade – led by Edgarstown Accordion Band – will leave Carleton Street at 8.10am, with the ex-Servicemen’s Lodge LOL No 608, the first of the 29 to quick-march.
After the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the War Memorial, District Master Darryl Hewitt and his officers will head the parade to Bridge Street (adjacent to Watson and Joseph Streets) where they will board the buses for the county demonstration. En route downtown, tickets will be available for the general public at £7 (return) each.
In Richhill, the 11 districts from all over County Armagh will gather in the village at various times during the morning, with the county’s 5,000 Brethren from 154 Oranges Lodges (as well as around 80 bands, pipe to flute, brass to accordion) making up the largest and most colourful NI parade of the day.
They will step out from the gathering point to the Field at Tirnascrobe Road, and upwards of 20,000 spectators will enjoy the spectacle and sound of the uniqueness of The Twelfth. And with a more peaceful province – allied to “selling” the event as a tourist attraction - there will be more visitors than ever.
It is, of course, a demonstration of historic significance, coinciding with the 101st anniversary of The Somme, the first of the second century after the battle. The Orange Order was formed in 1795 at Sloan’s House in Loughgall, where the Museum of Orange Heritage welcomed the Prince of Wales over a year ago.
The County Armagh demonstration usually attracts many visitors from across the border in Monaghan and Cavan. Approximately 80 bands, including a few from Scotland, and scores of Lambeg drums will also add much sound to the occasion. The platform proceedings will include a religious service, the speeches and the customary Resolutions.
The return parade for Portadown District LOL No 1 is scheduled to leave the demonstration field at 3pm. The buses will leave from Ballyleaney Road, and the Portadown return parade will form up in Portadown at Brownstown Road at 4.45pm.
It will then proceed down West Street, through the town centre to Edenderry and back to Carleton Street for dismissal.