LAST Saturday night the Aghalee Young Volunteers Flute were the hosts at the weekend’s only marching band procession.
The sleepy Antrim village had a substantial influx of spectators for the event on an evening that proved to be the host band’s largest parade to date.
In all 30 bands took part, with standards incredibly high throughout. Among the evening’s highlights were Craigavon Protestant Boys, Dunmurry Protestant Boys and the melody flute of Lisburn Young Defenders. Defenders of the Rock Flute Lisbellaw impressed with their disciplined colour party, as did the girls of the Upper Bann Fusiliers.
Elsewhere at the weekend Newry band South Down Defenders travelled to Liverpool to take part in the annual Battle of Arras commemoration parade hosted by Liverpool band Young Carson Volunteers. The Co Down men and women put on an impressive performance for the many English bands and band supporters out to watch the event.
After the weekend, the focus switched to Carrickfergus, with the annual Easter Monday celebrations hosted by the Apprentice Boys of Derry. Some of the largest crowds ever seen at an Easter Monday demonstration lined the entire parade route, with the atmosphere incredibly relaxed.
Despite terrible weather forecast it remained dry throughout with even the sun making an appearance for much of the day. In all 40 bands took part with every corner of the Province well represented.
From Co Londonderry the Burntollet Sons of Ulster and Newbuildings Orange and Blue were both playing well, while from Antrim Drumaheagles Young Defenders, Cullybackey Maine Defenders and Rathcoole Protestant Boys impressed many.
Pride of the Hill Flute Carnmoney put in a strong showing, up for the day accompanying South Armagh Apprentice Boys Club Keady, with other notable Armagh representatives including Portadown True Blues and Cormeen Rising Sons of William.
Shankill Protestant Boys had an army on parade – over 60 members entertaining the crowds – while Banbridge’s Downshire Guiding Star energetic bass drummer turned heads.
Home town band Ulster Grenadiers were very well turned out on the day, putting in a tight performance, as did Newtownstewart’s Red Hand Defenders.
English and Scottish visiting bands in the shape of Imperial Corps of Drums Liverpool and Pride of the Grange Scotland got a great reception, as did the Steeple Defenders from nearby Antrim.
On a sadder note a young member of Craigavon Protestant Boys Flute was knocked down by a vehicle late in the day. The thoughts of the entire band community are with the young man and his family at this time, all wishing Daniel a quick recovery.
This weekend is incredibly busy for the scene, with Friday night hosting events in the south Armagh village of Newtownhamilton for Synotts True Blues Flute and in Crossgar for Crossgar Young Defenders Flute.
On Saturday afternoon one of the Province’s most progressive bands hold their 39th annual parade. The Steeple Defenders band procession and fun day is an important day in the Antrim town social calendar and is sure to be well supported. That evening Rising Sons of the Valley Flute are the host band in Kilkeel for their annual parade while, further north in Lisburn, Pride of Ballymacash are the organisers.
One the highlights in the marching calendar in the rest of the British Isles also takes place this Saturday in the form of the Lord Carson Memorial Apprentice Boys parade in London.
Starting at 2pm at the city’s famous Hyde Park Corner, several bands are travelling over from Northern Ireland to take part including Pride of the Orange and Blue Newbuildings and Pride of the Hill Carnmoney.
n If you would like to publicise fundraising, competition, cultural or indeed any events related to the large Ulster marching band community you can contact Drum Beat by ringing or texting Quincey on 07835624221 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, with all contributions, opinions and news from the country’s thriving band movement very welcome.