Belfast Telegraph

17,000 Royal Black members on the march for 'Last Saturday' celebration

By Staff Reporter

Upwards of 17,000 members of the Royal Black Institution will be on parade at six locations across Northern Ireland for the traditional 'Last Saturday' demonstrations this weekend.

Around 350 preceptories, most accompanied by bands, will take part in processions in Comber, Antrim, Castledawson, Lisburn, Omagh and Aughnacloy.

Sovereign grand master Millar Farr, who will attend the Castledawson parade, said the Institution was once again looking forward to the much-anticipated day in the parading calendar.

He said: "The Last Saturday traditionally brings the curtain down on the loyal order parading season and we are expecting yet another magnificent finale.

"The various demonstrations will offer a wonderful spectacle of culture and pageantry, attended and enjoyed by large crowds at six different venues across the province.

"It has been a memorable and significant year for the Institution, perhaps most notable for our Christian ethos and our charitable outreach.

"We were delighted to present over £100,000 to Macmillan Cancer Support, with the substantive funds going towards a local aftercare scheme for prostate cancer patients. The Institution has also played a leading role in the ongoing commemorations in 2017 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation."

Mr Farr added: "I trust and pray the respective Last Saturday demonstrations will be wonderful and memorable occasions for all involved."

Comber

The largest parade of the day will be in Comber, where 5,000 members of the loyal order will be on parade. A total of 107 preceptories and approximately 100 bands will take part.

The districts represented are Lower Iveagh; Lecale; Castlewellan; Newry; Banbridge; Rathfriland; Mourne; Largymore; Ballynahinch; Newtownards; Saintfield, Bangor and Comber.

Among the many preceptories stepping out will be the largest in the Institution, Elijah's Chosen Few RBP 208 from Mourne District, with more than 250 members.

A large crowd is expected to turn out to watch the parade, which was last held in the Co Down town in 2004.

The main procession moves off at noon from Parkway via Killinchy Street, The Square, High Street, Braeside, Ballygowan Road, Railway Street, Glen Link and Belfast Road.

The religious service will begin at 3pm and will be chaired by Brian Hunter, County Down grand master. Rev Stanley Gamble will conduct the service of worship.

Assistant sovereign grand master William Baillie will be the guest speaker.

Antrim

Up to 80 preceptories will take part in the demonstration in Antrim.

The main parade will assemble at Fountain Hill at 12.30pm and proceed through the town via Fountain Street, Church Street, High Street, Bridge Street and Dublin Road, to the field on the Randalstown Road.

The participating Co Antrim preceptories will come from six districts representing Antrim, Lisburn, Ballymena, Larne, Ballymoney and Ballyclare.

It is expected there will be 75 bands and 2,500 members of the Royal Black Institution on parade.

The platform proceedings will begin at 3pm under the chairman Charles Hamilton, Antrim district master.

County Antrim grand chaplain Robert Campbell will conduct the service of worship.

The guest speaker will be Rev William Anderson, imperial deputy grand master and imperial deputy grand chaplain.

A Last Saturday parade was last held in Antrim town in 2011.

Castledawson

Sovereign grand master Millar Farr will be the special guest at the County Londonderry demonstration in Castledawson.

The village is hosting a Last Saturday parade for the first time. The demonstration will include 35 preceptories representing districts in South Londonderry, City of Londonderry, Coleraine and Raphoe, County Donegal.

Thirty bands will accompany the parade, which begins at midday from Hillhead Road, proceeding through the village to the demonstration field on the Magherafelt Road.

The platform proceedings are at 2pm and the preacher will be Rev John Noble, imperial deputy grand chaplain.

The principal speaker will be Mr Farr.

Lisburn

The City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter demonstration will be held this year in Lisburn.

It is tradition for members of the Institution in Belfast to parade in various provincial towns and cities.

A total of 54 preceptories, representing seven districts, will step out in Lagan Valley accompanied by 33 bands.

The main parade will move off at noon from Wallace Park and the procession route will be Seymour Street, Castle Street, Market Street North, Market Street South, Market Street, Smithfield Street, Market Place, Bow Street, Antrim Street, Antrim Road and North Circular Road, returning to Wallace Park for a religious service.

The principal speaker will be city grand master William Elliott with the service of worship conducted by Alan McIntosh, city grand chaplain.

City grand registrar Christopher Cunningham will chair the proceedings.

Omagh

Twenty-four preceptories will be on parade in Tyrone's county town.

Sir Knights from Omagh, and neighbouring Castlederg and Strabane districts, will be accompanied by many bands for the annual procession.

The event will be a special occasion for Omagh District and Omagh Olive Branch RBP 185, who both celebrate their 150th anniversaries.

The main parade will commence at 1pm and move via Crevenagh Road, Irishtown Road, Dublin Road, Market Street, High Street, John Street, James Street, Church Street, George's Street, High Street, Bridge Street, Drumragh Avenue, Market Street and Campsie Road before returning to the Crevenagh Road for a religious service.

The platform proceedings will begin at 2.30pm and the chairman will be Stanley McFarland.

The service of worship will be conducted by County Tyrone grand chaplain Rev Alan Irwin and the preacher will be Rev Nigel Reid, an imperial grand chaplain.

The guest speaker will be Ivan Kelly, past assistant sovereign grand master.

Aughnacloy

Up to 80 preceptories and a similar number of bands will take part in the demonstration in Aughnacloy.

The large parade in the south Tyrone village, hosting a Last Saturday procession for the first time since 2006, will commence at 11.45am.

The districts represented are from the Republic of Ireland, Fermanagh, Primatial, Summerisland, Killyman, Aughnacloy and East Tyrone.

Senior Sir Knights in attendance will include imperial grand registrar Billy Scott and imperial grand treasurer David Livingstone.

The main parade will commence from the assembly point at the grounds of Aughnacloy College and proceed through the village to the demonstration field on the Caledon Road.

The religious service, starting at 2.15pm, will be chaired by Aughnacloy district master Harold Erskine.

County Tyrone grand master Richard Emerson will be the principal speaker.

The preacher will be Robin Fairburn, chaplain of Saintfield District.

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