Drumbeat: Ulster bands excel at Review

Regimental Band of the Ulster Volunteer Force in Belfast
Regimental Band of the Ulster Volunteer Force in Belfast

Marching bands were a prime attraction in the mass centenary procession at the weekend

Tens of thousands of people packed the centre of Belfast last Saturday for the latest, and arguably the most impressive to date, centenary commemoration.

One hundred years on almost to the day, a massive procession consisting of around 20,000 participants re-enacted the Review of the 36th Ulster Division.

May 8, 1915 saw 17,000 troops of the famous military formation parade through Belfast, marking their last major display in Ireland before departing on a journey that would eventually take them to the fields of France and Flanders.

To commemorate the occasion, the 36th Ulster Division Memorial Association organised a truly spectacular tribute event. Thousands of men and women in period dress, vehicles from the era, Somme Associations and the Loyal Orders all participated; along with over 70 marching bands from across the Province.

The music was undoubtedly one of the most attractive elements, not least from the Regimental Band of the Ulster Volunteer Force, themselves bedecked in the military uniforms of the 36th.

The Shankill Road Defenders Flute were outfitted in their smart new uniforms, just unveiled the previous night, while another melody flute band, the Pride of the Raven from East Belfast, provided martial music reminiscent of the period.

The appropriately named Somme Memorial from Bangor were in fine form, while the Dunaghy Flute from North Antrim caught many eyes with another impressive new uniform.

From Fermanagh came the unique Brookeborough Flute, from Larne Cairncastle Flute, and among the Tyrone participants were Cookstown Sons of William and Moygashel Sons of Ulster. Overall the day saw music and visual spectacle combine to make one of the most unique occasions in Northern Ireland in decades.

Last Friday night also saw several band processions take place, and despite all unfortunately marred by periods of torrential rain, large numbers of bands still braved the elements.

Star of the Roe Flute Limavady had 30 bands in attendance, with highlights the flutes of Ballinteer, Aghanloo and Castlecatt; and the accordions of Blackhill and Lisnagrot.

In Markethill the Mavemacullen Accordion were the hosts, with bands attending from across the Orchard County stretching into Co Down.

You can contact Drum Beat by ringing/ texting 07835624221 or emailing admin@ulsterbandsforum.net, with all contributions, opinions and news from the country’s thriving band movement very welcome.