Ambitions fired up to expand King Billy pageant

King William is welcomed to Carrickfergus after landing at the town's harbour as part of the annual pageant
King William is welcomed to Carrickfergus after landing at the town's harbour as part of the annual pageant

An estimated 5,000-or-so people turned out to an annual history-themed pageant at the weekend, marking King William’s landing in Ulster in 1690.

The event was staged in Carrickfergus on Saturday, and saw an impersonator of the Orange icon row ashore at the harbour before riding through the town on horseback at the head of a parade.

The king had landed at the town (where a statue in his honour now stands) on his way to the Boyne.

One of those who organised the event was DUP councillor Cheryl Johnston.

She estimated the event has been staged, on and off, for about the last 50 years.

This year the numbers were slightly down; something which she believes was influenced by the fact the Euro 2016 competition was taking place at the same time, plus a large-scale parade in north Down.

Whilst the event is largely confined to the Saturday, councillor Johnston said that she hopes that in the future it will be run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – although they have to work out how they would fund that.

She said that participants included Scottish lodges and a history group from Liverpool, adding: “We just want to expand it for the coming years, increase the crowds and get people who haven’t been before to come down to the town.”