The rolling hills of Co Donegal and sprawling Atlantic Ocean shoreline will tomorrow provide a picturesque backdrop for the only ‘Twelfth’ Orange parade held in the Irish Republic.
The Rossnowlagh event is renowned for its relaxed family atmosphere and low-key security presence, and hundreds of holidaymakers staying in the coastal resort are expected to join spectators lining the route for the 2,000-strong parade.
Fifty lodges from Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan, as well as Orangemen from Dublin and Wicklow, Northern Ireland and Scotland, will take part.
Headed by 20 bands and a number of Lambeg drums, the lodge members will proceed along a narrow country road to the demonstration field, beside the beach.
The religious service, after the parade, will be conducted by local Church of Ireland rector the Rev Brian Russell, with the main address by the Rev Mervyn Gibson, Belfast Grand Chaplain and Assistant Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
The Grand Master of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, will also be present with Donegal Grand Master David Mahon.
The Donegal demonstration at Rossnowlagh dates back to the early 1900s and, apart from the period of the early Troubles in Northern Ireland, it has continuously taken place there every year since 1978.
There are 44 Orange halls in Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Leitrim, and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has members in nine counties in the Republic.
Earlier this year, Ballintra Orange Hall in Co Donegal reopened after major refurbishment.
The Orange Order remains strong in Co Donegal, with the Raphoe district attached to City of Londonderry Grand Lodge, and the two other districts (Ballintra and Donegal) comprising Donegal County Grand Lodge.
Monaghan County Grand Lodge, also with a sizeable membership, has five districts – Drum, Clones, Dartrey, Monaghan and Trough; Co Cavan four – Cavan, Cootehill, Belturbet and Bailieborough.
The Dublin and Wicklow lodge still functions, affiliated with Co Cavan Grand Lodge.
In Co Leitrim, there are two lodges, while two Co Monaghan-based lodges (Carnagh and Knocknanin) operate in Newtownhamilton District in Co Armagh.
On July 12, the lodges from the Republic’s border counties will parade at the nearest demonstrations in Northern Ireland, this year in Markethill, Irvinestown, Omagh and Limavady.