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Series of parades to honour sacrifice of Orange Order fallen

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 20/05/2016

The 36th (Ulster) Division at the Somme
The 36th (Ulster) Division at the Somme

Special services will be held this weekend as the Orange Institution marks the upcoming centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Thousands of Orangemen are expected to attend church-organised parades at locations across Northern Ireland.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the battle, which saw more than one million casualties over 141 days.

Thousands of soldiers from the 36th (Ulster) Division and the 16th Irish Division were among the victims.

Major events marking the centenary will take place in the UK and France on July 1.

This weekend, the Orange Institution will stage a series of formal memorial services.

These events will take place across counties Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone.

All of the services will be held simultaneously on Sunday afternoon. They will be held at:

St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh, 3.15pm;

St Columba's Church of Ireland, Omagh Methodist and Trinity Presbyterian, Omagh, 3pm;

Derryloran Church of Ireland and Molesworth Presbyterian, Cookstown, parade moving off at 2.45pm;

St Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen, incorporating the annual murdered brethren parade, 3pm;

Christ Church, Limavady, parade moving off at 3.20pm;

Dromore Cathedral and Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church, Dromore, 3.30pm.

A separate drumhead service will take place in Co Antrim next weekend.

The memorial events come ahead of the actual centenary on July 1, when the Orange Institution will join the nation in reflecting on the bravery of servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the seminal battle on the Western Front.

Tens of thousands of Orangemen, many of whom were members of the 36th (Ulster) Division, lost their lives fighting at the Somme.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said the memorial services and associated commemoration parades would be a "fitting and solemn tribute" to the fallen.

"The Battle of the Somme will forever be seared into the psyche of the Orange family, given the huge sacrifice by members of the Institution on the front line," he explained.

"Indeed, many brethren attending the memorial services will have relatives who answered the call of duty a century ago, and fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy today.

"Their courage must always be remembered, and we are honoured to do so as an Institution by hosting such Province-wide commemorations.

"I would encourage all members of the Orange fraternity to show their support and recognise the heroism and selfless service of the 36th (Ulster) Division and the Allied Forces at the Somme by attending and participating in their nearest memorial service."

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