Portadown’s four Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) took part in the traditional August parade in the Maiden City on Saturday when thousands of members and supporters from all over the province celebrated the traditional ‘closing of the gates’ during the siege in 1688.
The Clubs were– Portadown, with Cantril’s Glory Band from Liverpool; Brackagh with Pride of the Birches Accordion; Baker, with Pomeroy True Blues; and Campsie (Clounagh) with Portadown True Blues.
The parade walked through Portadown, after laying wreaths at the War Memorial, and the buses left from Edenderry, arriving in Londonderry in plenty of time for the massive parade. Portadown man Billy McClean is, incidentally, chairman of the overall Mid Ulster Branch of the ABOD, a highly respected figure within the organisation.
Earlier in the morning the ‘parent’ clubs in Londonderry had – in agreement with local residents – walked the mile-or-so circumference of Derry’s Walls, following a deal worked out a number of years ago. And they also took part in the traditional service at St Columb’s Cathedral.
The Portadown Clubs arrived before noon in plenty of time to take part in the major parade, which is restricted to the eastern side of the Maiden City. They braved the unpredictable weather, enjoying the carnival atmosphere of the day, arriving home around 7pm.
There was only one controversy surrounding the day when buses returning to Belfast were attacked en route through Dungiven and one woman was seriously injured.
The Portadown contingent, though, was not caught up in the incident, as they had returned home via the Sion Mills-Dungannon route.