Drumbeat: Bands echo in St Patrick’s city

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The ecclesiastical city of Armagh once again this year concluded its March 17 celebrations with a massive display of Ulster marching bands

The 2015 band season, that part of the Ulster band year when over 600 marching bands take to the roads of towns, villages and hamlets across the Province, officially started on Tuesday night.

In two now well-established St Patrick’s evening band processions in Armagh city and Coleraine, almost 70 bands took to the streets demonstrating the unique Ulster marching band culture.

The larger of the two processions took place in Armagh, where the hosts the Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute had over 40 bands on parade, with all six counties of Northern Ireland having representatives on display.

Given the Armagh area has more bands per head of population than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, it was no surprise that Orchard County bands made up the early bands on the march.

Armagh True Blues Flute, Allistragh Flute, Ballyrea Boyne Defenders Flute, Mullabrack Accordion, John Hunter Accordion and Kilcluney Volunteers Flute each had strong bands on display.

From Fermanagh came the Pride of the Village Magheraveeley and South Fermanagh Loyalists; from Tyrone the Ballymacall True Blues, Montober Flute and Pride of the Village Beragh; and from Co Down the Newry duo of South Down Defenders and Loyal Sons of Benagh.

Pride of the Hill Flute Carnmoney came all the way from Glengormley, with other Belfast visitors including the impressive South Belfast Protestant Boys and the Newtownabbey 1st Accordion. An excellent event in Armagh once again drew large crowds, and continues to grow.

Meanwhile in the North West, Coleraine was the location for the Ulster Protestant Boys annual procession. In all 27 bands participated including Blackhill Accordion, Boveedy Flute, Moneydig Young Conquerors Flute and Mosside Accordion.

In blood and thunder the Cloughmills Crown Defenders and Drumaheagles Young Defenders both stood out for many; with the host band taking up the rear of the procession ending it for another year in their usual energetic style.

On Monday night the charity support of bands was shown yet again with the 1st Maze Northern Ireland supporters Club presenting a cheque for £600 to Marie Curie, recently raised at a band concert it facilitated.

If you would like to publicise fundraising, competition, cultural or indeed any events related to the large Ulster marching band fraternity, you can contact Drum Beat by ringing/ texting 07835624221 or emailing admin@ulsterbandsforum.net, with all contributions very welcome. As we enter the new season, Drumbeat would particularly welcome photographs from the many processions and events taking place.