Bannerfest raises a standard for the Somme

Wreath which was laid by Killyman District No1

Wreath which was laid by Killyman District No1

A unique gathering of banners, bannerettes, standards and flags took place in Co Tyrone on Saturday to mark the upcoming centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Dungannon was awash with colour as the Loyal Orders came together to pay an innovative tribute to those who lost their lives in the seminal First World War battle.

Several hundred banners were carried at the Bannerfest parade in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Several hundred banners were carried at the Bannerfest parade in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Several hundred banners from across the Province were carried on parade through the town, with many poignantly bearing illustrations of the sacrifice of the 36th Ulster Division at the Somme.

The one-off event was organised by Killyman District Cultural Group.

Chairman Kenneth Montgomery said: “Bannerfest was a unique event and a fitting tribute to our relatives and all who served their King and country during a terrible and bloody war.”

The commemoration – which included an act of remembrance at the town’s war memorial - received the support of the heads of the main loyal orders, including the Orange Institution, the Royal Black Institution, Apprentice Boys, the Independent Orange Institution and the Ladies Association.

Speaking prior to the parade, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said Bannerfest would be a “truly stunning, yet respectful, spectacle to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme”.

“The Institution is proud to participate and in so doing pay tribute to the selfless bravery of tens of thousands of Orangemen, and their fellow soldiers – many of whom were from our own Province - who bravely served on the front line during the First World War.”

Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution, Millar Farr, said: “This event will be one of many throughout our Province being held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Many thousands of men from Ulster and other places gave their lives in the battle for the defence of freedom and the continuance of democracy.”

Governor of the Apprentice Boys, Jim Brownlee, said: “Taking pride in the sacrifices and achievements of previous generations of Ulstermen and Ulsterwomen has always been a treasured tradition and it is fitting that 2016 will witness Bannerfest in both a commemorative and celebrated fashion.