Apprentice Boys set for largest march of year

The Apprentice Boys of Derry at the annual Relief of Derry Commemeration
The Apprentice Boys of Derry at the annual Relief of Derry Commemeration

Londonderry will again be the venue tomorrow for the year’s largest loyal order parade.

More than 10,000 Apprentice Boys of Derry, headed by 140 bands, will mark the 326th anniversary of the ‘Relief’ of the city with a highly colourful march over a route on both sides of the River Foyle.

Celebrations will begin at 9am with a parade of Apprentice Boys’ General Committee members and the membership of the eight Parent Clubs around the walls of the city.

Wreaths will be laid at the war memorial in the Diamond at 10am before the parade proceeds to an anniversary service in the historic St Columb’s Cathedral, where the besieged Protestants gathered for safety during the 1688-89 Siege.

Apprentice Boys Governor Jim Brownlee and senior colleagues will be welcomed by the Dean the Rev Dr William Morton at the hour-long service. The service will be conducted by the Rev David McBeth, rector of All Saints’ Parish Church, Clooney.

Before the main parade at 12.30pm, a pageant re-enacting the events of the Siege of 1688-89 will centre on the walled sector of the city. It will feature the Crimson Players.

The main parade is scheduled to last two and a half hours, commencing at Duke Street on the Waterside and proceeding across Craigavon Bridge to the West Bank and back to the Waterside for disposal. The 5pm return parade will involve the Parents’ Clubs and General Committee members heading back to the city side, for dispersal at the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall at Society Street.

Apprentice Boys’ clubs from across Northern Ireland will be joined by branches and bands from the Irish Republic, Scotland and England.

The Apprentice Boys General Committee said they were delighted to invite the local Hamilton Flute Band, which this year marks the 100th anniversary of its members signing up to serve in the World War I, to head the parade.

Apprentice Boys general secretary Billy Moore appealed for everyone to have an enjoyable day: “We hope the traders remain open and take advantage of the many tens of thousands of people coming to the city for the event.”

The City Grand Lodge of the Orange Order extended best wishes for the day.