Stewartstown: young lodge members pay tribute to WWI heroes
The largest Twelfth parade in Tyrone took place in one of the county's smallest villages '“ resulting in a particularly relaxed and '˜rural' carnival atmosphere, the order said.
Deputy County Grand Master Robert Abernethy said about 7,000 people attended the demonstration in Stewartstown.
Over 70 lodges and approximately 50 bands – silver, accordion, pipe and flute – took part in the annual gathering.
“It was one of the biggest Twelfths ever seen in Stewartstown,” he said. “I think the weather had a lot to do with it, encouraging people to come out.
“If the weather is bad people might just say to themselves, ‘we will just let it go’. It was probably the same everywhere.
“It was quite a relaxed family day in Stewartstown. It is somewhat different to the Twelfth in a city or even one of the bigger towns.
“It is always quite different in a rural setting to the Twelfth in Portadown or Belfast.
“I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it was a real family day – a bit overcast but mild all day.
“The people spread out all across the field eating ice cream and enjoying themselves. It was a real carnival atmosphere.”
Orangemen and women from seven districts stepped out; representing the host district as well as Killyman, Cookstown, Castlecaulfield, Pomeroy, Coagh and Benburb.
The Twelfth was last held in the Mid Ulster village seven years ago.
“There was a good turnout of Orangemen. We had a good mixture of bands too.”
The theme of the day was around remembrance of the First World War, and Stewartstown District Lodge displayed a special bannerette to commemorate Orangemen from the area who served.
Recently dedicated, it was unfurled for its first Twelfth yesterday and carried in the parade.
Later in the year, it will be ‘laid-up’ in one of the local halls as a reminder to future generations of the sacrifice that members from the district made.
“We think about 12 Orangemen from the district died in the First World War,” he said.
Junior lodge members performed a special tribute re-enactment of soldiers returning from the Great War.
A commemorative badge had also been struck as a collector’s item for the big day.
Mr Abernethy gave the main address in which he affirmed each of the main resolutions the order published for the 2018 Twelfth.
Speaking after the event, Mr Abernethy said he was pleased at how everything went in Stewartstown.
“I am just relieved everything went to plan. Everyone was in good heart.”
Council workers swept in quickly after the event to tidy up and there was no sign left of the demonstration, he said as he journeyed home.
“We worked very closely to organise the event with the police and we were all very pleased with how it passed off.
“I am the fifth generation of my family in my lodge”.
Mr Abernethy’s son and grandson are also members – making up the sixth and seventh generation of his bloodline in membership.
Members of Syerla LOL 509, from neighbouring Benburb district, also had their new banner on parade.
Stewartstown & District Cultural Committee organised a cultural display at the ‘Field’, which included traditional music and entertainment provided by Newmills Silver Band. The ‘Field’ also had a special Lambeg drum display at the cultural display.
The main parade began just after noon from the assembly field on the Coagh Road and proceeded along North Street, The Square, Hillhead and on to the demonstration field on the Coalisland Road.
The religious address incorporated a drumhead service where the proceedings were conducted by the District Chaplain, Rev Robert Boyd.