THE Ranken Memorial Flute was formed in 1910 in the parish of Ballygawley, just a few short miles from the Co Londonderry town of Garvagh.
One of the oldest bands in the Garvagh district, following in the tradition of Caheny Flute Band, Glenkeen Fife and Drum and Movenis Rising Sons of William Flute, originally it was named Gordon’s Faith Defenders after the then unionist MP.
Like so many bands, it was originally brought into existence to lead an Orange Lodge, namely Ballygawley L.O.L. 202, on the Twelfth of July. In its very early days it was intended to be of the part flute genre, but unfortunately their original tutor passed away before they made ‘the road’, and a first flute style was adopted.
They worked under the name Gordon’s Faith Defenders for several years, the change coming when a wealthy local family donated money to purchase new instruments. The band eventually decided to rename itself after this family, the Rankens. Unfortunately there are no strains of the Ranken family still in existence in the area. Throughout the years the band has had many uniforms, beginning with white shirts, black trousers and a black forage cap. During the 1980s the band had white shirts, ties and blue jumpers, while in the 1990s the band purchased open-collar red tunics with gold trim, black trousers with red and gold trim, black ties and peaked hats. This was the first uniform that had the band crest on it.
With the arrival of the new millennium the band purchased their current uniform of a red tunic with gold and navy trim, navy trousers with red and gold trim, and navy berets. New instruments for all sections also arrived with the new look. Since 2004 the band has led Aghadowey Branch of the A.B.O.D. each year in Londonderry, while in the past it has also accompanied Agivey Sons of Ulster R.B.P. 843 on the Black Saturday.
Currently the band repertoire is around 25 tunes, including several traditional orange standards such as Battle of Garvagh and Hills of Tandragee; and well known hymns like Stand Up for Jesus. Membership, like every other band, has both increased and declined throughout the years, however today it sits at the very respectable number of five side drummers, two cymbals, one bass drummer and 15 flautists.
In 2010 Ranken Memorial celebrated their 100th anniversary, and several special occasions held during the year without doubt gave the band a new lease of life. In 2013 they are determined to build even further on their music and appearance, and continue to celebrate their traditions and place in the local community.