Royal Black Institution steps out for ‘Last Saturday’ parades

editorial image

The final major demonstrations of the loyal order marching season will take place in six main venues on Saturday, with members of the Royal Black Institution on parade.

The Institution has 17,000 members – and a total of 370 preceptories, headed by 300 bands, will demonstrate in Rathfriland, Armagh, Ballyclare, Londonderry, Donemana and Larne for the traditional “Last Saturday” event. They will be joined by contingents from the Republic’s border counties and Scotland.

The parades are expected to be watched by tens of thousands of spectators.


Biggest turn-out will be in Rathfriland, which last played host to the Co Down event in 2001.

The parade of 106 preceptories and 90 bands, comprising 10,000 marchers, begins at noon at Newry Road and proceeds through the town to the Orange field at Castlewellan Road. Districts taking part are Lower Iveagh, Lecale, Castlewellan, Newry, Ballynahinch, Banbridge, Rathfriland, Mourne, Largymore, Comber, Newtownards, Saintfield and Bangor. Preceptories of Mourne district will have the largest turnout.

The Co Down “Last Saturday” demonstration is noted for the quality of the bands, in flute, silver, pipe and accordion sectors.

A religious service will be conducted by Pastor Roy Graham and assistant Sovereign Grand Master Ivan Kelly will also speak. A special attraction will be a children’s choir from Uganda, who will take part in traditional costume.


The Primatial city hosts its first “Last Saturday” demonstration for 10 years, with the parade of 60 preceptories and bands moving at noon from Dean’s Hill through Armagh city centre to the Hamiltonsbawn Road.

Districts represented will be Killyman, Aughnacloy, East Tyrone, Summerisland (Loughgall) and Primatial City (Armagh). Preceptories from Fermanagh and counties Cavan and Monaghan will also attend.

A religious service will be conducted by the Rev John Batchelor, a senior RBP chaplain, and principal speaker will be Robert Dane, assistant Sovereign Grand Master.


Co Antrim’s demonstration in Ballyclare was last in the town in 2008 and, this year, 3,000 members of the Black Institution from 79 preceptories will take part. They will be headed by 70 bands.

The parade starts at 12.30pm, proceeding from Rashee Road to Sixmilewater Park where a religious service will be held. The service will be conducted by RBP chaplain the Rev Ian McClean, with Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr the main speaker.

Districts represented will be Lisburn, Ballymena, Antrim, Larne, Ballymoney and Ballyclare.


In the Maiden City, 34 preceptories will be on parade, led by 33 bands, from Coleraine, City of Londonderry, Raphoe (Co Donegal) and South Londonderry districts.

The parade begins at noon, moving off from May Street via Limavady Road across Craigavon Bridge to the Diamond and back to the Waterside.

Platform proceedings will be conducted by the Rev Joseph Andrews, with guest speaker the Rev Nigel Reid, past assistant Sovereign Grand Master.


The west/north Tyrone parade will have 24 preceptories and 22 bands from South Donegal, Omagh, Castlederg and Strabane districts.

The parade starts at 1.30pm, proceeding via Longland Road to Berryhill Road. A religious service will be held at 2.30pm, conducted by Ian Donnell and the Rev Ivan Dinsmore. The demonstration coincides with the 150th anniversary of Strabane district.


City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter holds its annual demonstration in Larne.

The demonstration was last held in the town in 1985.

The parade begins at noon at Sandy Bay and proceeds via Larne town centre to Circular Road. There will be 59 Belfast preceptories on parade, accompanied by 33 bands, several from Scotland. A religious service will be held at 11.30am.