Last weekend once again illustrated the continuing appeal of Ulster bands, with several hundred on the march across the province.
The biggest event by far took place in the Orchard County ‘Hub of the North’, where the Portadown Defenders Flute attracted a massive 62 Ulster marching bands to their long established traditional band procession and competition.
As the Portadown streets echoed to the sound of drums, in the north-west the Macosquin First Flute held their procession. Highlights included the Ballyrashane Flute, Glenkeen Fife and Drum, Pride of the Maine and Dunaghy.
Rising Sons of William Movenis also stood out in a strong parade of 28 bands.
The next afternoon the Cloughfern Young Conquerors were the hosts in the sprawling Rathcoole Estate in Newtownabbey. The Pride of the Bann Coleraine led proceedings, followed by a further 15 bands, with the Shankill Protestant Boys adjudged the best on parade.
That night East Belfast Rising Sons celebrated their 30th anniversary with an enjoyable walk through the east of the City. Belfast bands were unsurprisingly very strong, with the South Belfast Young Conquerors, East Belfast Protestant Boys and Gertrude Star all excelling.
Elsewhere Drumaheagles Young Defenders had 37 bands on display at their annual band parade in Ballymoney. The smart and sharp Derryloran Boyne Defenders Flute from Cookstown got proceedings underway at a high standard, with a constant stream of high quality bands following. Bands travelled from all over the province to participate, including Burntollet Sons of Ulster from Claudy, Co Armagh’s Bessbrook True Blues, Cookstown’s Montober Flute and South Antrim’s Maghaberry True Blues.
While some bands were making their way through the streets of Ballymoney, a further 25 were traversing a parade route through the centre of Enniskillen for the Enniskillen Fusiliers. Universally it was acknowledged as one of the best crowds an Enniskillen band procession has seen for some time, emphasising the strong condition of the local band movement. Some nine Fermanagh bands participated, including the accordions of Lisbellaw and Ballinamallard, the blood and thunder of North Fermanagh Young Defenders, Defenders of the Rock, Pride of the Village, South Fermanagh Loyalists, Newtownbutler Border Defenders and of course the hosts, along with the melody flute of Florencecourt.
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