A self-styled family-friendly Twelfth in Clogher was marked by a great sense of community amid frequent family reunions.
A somewhat unique feature of the Twelfth celebrations in this corner of Ulster is the number of brethren who might have moved away to live and work in the east of the Province who then make the return to celebrate the Twelfth of July with the brethren from their home towns and villages.
One of the smaller Twelfth of July demonstrations, the Clogher celebrations were enjoyed no less than some of the larger Twelfths taking place elsewhere.
In fact, the welcoming and relaxed atmosphere enjoyed at Clogher was perhaps the match of anywhere.
Ian McClung, secretary of host District, Fivemiletown, explained: “The Clogher Valley Twelfth is very much a family-friendly Twelfth, in fact we style ourselves as such. Our booklet here is called ‘Clogher 2017, family friendly Twelfth’.”
“It is very much the case that in this part of the Province a lot of the younger generation have moved maybe eastwards, towards Belfast for work, but they always come back for the Twelfth.
“In fact a lot of them will remain in the lodges where they grew up and were initially members rather than transfer, and then on the Twelfth of July they will come back and parade with I suppose their native lodge.
“We have a lot of family reunions at the Twelfth where a lot of people will come back and parade with their family members.”
Mr McClung added: “It adds a great, great family atmosphere to the Twelfth and it is something that we are very proud of here in Clogher Valley – that family atmosphere.
“The general relaxed approach to the day is something else that we are very proud of here.”
Twenty-five lodges from two districts – Annahoe and Fivemiletown – were on parade. Maintaining a long-held tradition, members of the Orange Institution from neighbouring Co Monaghan were also be present.
Increasing the number of participants from the Republic were brethren from Violet Hill lodge, who normally attend the Co Fermanagh parade.
District officers from both Fivemiletown and Annahoe were present on the platform for the religious service. The guest speaker was Rev Maurice Armstrong, a local Church of Ireland minister.
Mr McClung continued: “We are delighted with how everything went. As with all outdoor events, the weather can sometimes make or break it but it’s been a glorious day down here in the West.
“The sun has shone and it’s really helped our day. Everything went very well and we are very happy with it.
“Despite being small, we enjoyed a great turnout this year. The good weather would have helped us, I’m sure, but the entire town was lined along the whole route.
“The field, during the proceedings, was also well filled with people and we are delighted with that.”
Mr McClung said some more “light-hearted” entertainment followed the religious proceedings – including a vintage tractor pull.
He said: “We had lodges from Annahoe District who competed, lodges from Fivemiletown District competed and lodges from the south.
“We had a very hotly contested competition and the Bawn lodge came out on top in a closely contested final. It added a wee bit of fun to the whole affair.”