The bravery and sacrifice of Orange Order brethren who served in the First World War was remembered at the annual Triangle combine Twelfth parade.
Ian Wilson, former grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, was guest speaker at the demonstration in Portglenone.
The Triangle combine – Cullybackey, Ahoghill and Portglenone – event is the only Twelfth demonstration in Northern Ireland which crosses a county border during the parade.
The parade of 15 lodges and eight bands, led by Portglenone District No 7 and Milltown Accordion Band, set off from Chesney Crescent in Co Antrim and proceeded through the village, over the Bann Bridge into Co Londonderry and then back to the field at Portglenone Marina, Gortgole Road.
As is tradition, the distinctive sound of the Lambeg drum was very apparent, with a significant number on display.
Addressing brethren during the religious service at the demonstration field at Portglenone Marina, Mr Wilson explained how he was a delegate at the recent Imperial Orange Council in Edinburgh and extended greetings not merely from the brethren of Scotland, but also from England, Canada, Ghana, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.
“I happen to believe that the principles of the Loyal Orange Institution are more needed in today’s society than ever before,” he said. “And I’m happy to tell you, brethren, that’s also the view of the delegates who attended the Imperial Council. You and I are part of a global Christian institution that is more relevant today than ever it was.”
Mr Wilson went on to refer to the centenary of the Armistice that ended the Great War of 1914-18, recalling the involvement of Orangemen in the conflict.
“It’s estimated there were a quarter of a million Orangemen from all over the British Empire in uniform during the Great War,” he continued.
“The outstanding valour of the 36th (Ulster) Division is familiar to all of us, their action on the first day of the Somme recognised with four Victoria Crosses. But Orangemen served King and country in other regiments too. I’m told there are parts of rural Canada, in provinces like Manitoba and Newfoundland, where you can find Orange halls boarded up and neglected because their members never returned from Flanders. The province of Alberta had 150 lodges before the Great War. After the war there were just three lodges left.
“Let’s not forget either, the Orange brethren from Australia and New Zealand who paid a heavy price at Gallipoli, and those brethren who saw service in His Majesty’s ships. Did you know that the first naval casualty of the Great War was a young Orangeman from Melbourne, Australia? The Armistice is a sad anniversary, brethren, but also a very proud one for every member of our institution.”
Reflecting on a successful day, Adrian Lowry, Portglenone No 7 district secretary, said: “Everything went great. It was cloudy, but warm and very nice all day.
“We had big crowds this year. Down the main street was absolutely packed. We reckon there were probably about 2,000 spectators there.
“We also had a great crowd at the field. We had plenty of activities for the kids so that always attracts people.
“We are small in numbers, so our parade is a real family day out,” he added.