Drumbeat: A vast turnout for annual Blacks parades

Members of Drumlough Highland Pipe Band,Rathfriland. � Photo: Gary Gardiner
Members of Drumlough Highland Pipe Band,Rathfriland. � Photo: Gary Gardiner

The weather last Wednesday evening was atrocious, however as always, bands ‘bull’ on and the scheduled processions went ahead in both Cookstown and Garvagh.

In North Londonderry the town of Garvagh was the venue for the Blackhill Accordion organised event where 20 bands participated.

The rain unfortunately did reduce the number of spectators; however it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the hundreds of bandsmen and women.

The accordions of Craiganee, Vow, Killycoogan Independent, Lisnagrot and Aughafatten all made the journey to show their support, while among the many flute bands on the march were Ballinteer, Ranken Memorial and Benvarden.

Concurrently in Cookstown, the Montober Flute was the host band, with over 30 bands taking part in the procession down Northern Ireland’s longest main street.

Participating bands that impressed included Brackey Flute, Sgt White Memorial and Kingsmills Flute.

On Friday night the sprawling Co Down city of Newry hosted the long established band procession for the South Down Defenders Flute.

Good crowds lined the short procession route, witnessing a highly disciplined yet energetic flowing parade of an eventual total of 41 Ulster marching bands.

The host band followed its tradition of traversing the route at the beginning of the evening, followed by bands from across the length and breadth of the Province. Local band Loyal Sons of Benagh highly impressed, as did some of the most travelled visitors including the always reliable Castlederg Young Loyalists County Tyrone and South Fermanagh Loyalists Enniskillen.

An after parade social was well supported in the local Orange Hall.

On Saturday the weather was much kinder than earlier in the week for the annual Royal Black Preceptory processions.

In all there were five main venues as ‘blackmen’ from counties Down, Antrim, Londonderry, Tyrone, Londonderry and part of Armagh were on parade (the Black in most of Armagh have their annual event on July 13, while the Fermanagh men parade in August).

The crowds in Kilkeel and Newtownstewart were particularly impressive, but neither did the showing in Banbridge, Portstewart and Lisburn disappoint.

In excess of 300 bands were involved in the day’s proceedings, with almost 100 on display in Kilkeel, over 80 in Newtownstewart, 70 in Lisburn, 31 in Portstewart and 30 in Banbridge.

If your band wishes to publicise an upcoming event you can contact Drumbeat by text or ringing Drumbeat at 07835624221; or visit our facebook page and leave a message. Drumbeat- The Voice of Ulster’s Bands!