Specially arranged memorial services will take place across Northern Ireland this weekend, as the Orange Institution marks the upcoming centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Thousands of Orangemen are expected to attend the church parades, held at various venues throughout the Province.
The formal county memorial services are due to take place in Armagh city (Co Armagh), Omagh and Cookstown (Co Tyrone), Enniskillen (Co Fermanagh), Limavady (Co Londonderry) and Dromore (Co Down). All of the services will be held simultaneously on Sunday afternoon.
A separate drumhead service will take place in Co Antrim next weekend.
The memorial events come ahead of the actual centenary on July 1, when the Orange Institution, along with the entire nation, will reflect on the bravery of all servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the seminal battle on the Western Front.
Tens of thousands of Orangemen, many of whom were members of the 36th Ulster Division, lost their lives fighting at the Somme.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said the memorial services and associated commemoration parades would be a “fitting and solemn tribute” to the fallen.
He said: “The Battle of the Somme will forever be seared into the psyche of the Orange family, given the huge sacrifice by members of the Institution on the front line.
“Indeed, many brethren attending the memorial services will have relatives who answered the call of duty a century ago, and fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy today. Their courage must always be remembered, and we are honoured to do so as an Institution by hosting such Province-wide commemorations.”
He added: “I would encourage all members of the Orange fraternity to show their support, and recognise the heroism and selfless service of the 36th Ulster Division and the Allied Forces at the Somme, by attending and participating in their nearest memorial service.”
Somme Memorial Services – Sunday, May 22 (Service start times unless otherwise stated)
Armagh City – St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral – 3.15pm;
Omagh - St Columba’s Church of Ireland, Omagh Methodist and Trinity Presbyterian – 3pm;
Cookstown - Derryloran Church of Ireland and Molesworth Presbyterian – parade moving off 2.45pm;
Enniskillen – St Macartin’s Cathedral (incorporating annual murdered brethren parade) – 3pm;
Limavady - Christ Church – parade moving off 3.20pm;
Dromore – Dromore Cathedral and Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church – 3.30pm.