Belfast Telegraph

Three generations of same family to march to the beat of the Lambeg

By Rebecca Black

This year's Twelfth is set to be an extra special day for the Russell family from Co Armagh, as three generations of the same family prepare to step out for the first time together.

Johnny Russell (38), a Lambeg drummer, will be joined by his father, Ivan (63), and his son, Craig (6), who is eager to follow in their footsteps at the demonstration at Richhill today.

They are all members of Tamnificarbet LOL 17 and young Craig will be carrying on the tradition by playing a smaller drum, which his dad also had at his age.

"He is at that age where he just wants to do everything his father does," Johnny told the Belfast Telegraph.

"He actually has the Lambeg drum that I would have had at that age.

"We got it in 1987 and still have it in the family, and that is what he will beat. He did a bit of the parade last year, but this will be his first time out for the full parade.

"The drums run in the lodge, they have been taking them out for 40 years, over generations.

"There was a bit of a break and then they started again around 40 years ago. My grandad and my dad were drummers. My grandad passed away a couple of years ago, but I am sure he would have been proud to see us carrying on."

Johnny said he has been stepping out since he was his son's age. He conceded the famous Lambeg was heavy, but said members of the lodge took it in turns.

"They are heavy, but there are enough people in the lodge to take their turn, we will hopefully have six or seven drummers out between two drums," he said.

"You tend to just go until you are tired, then you give someone the nod and they take over. You don't walk in step with a Lambeg drum, you go at your own pace, so at least there is no step to keep in time with, it's just a matter of carrying it and beating it in time."

The lodge will also be debuting a new drum today, the Alex Russell, which they unveiled earlier this year.

"It's out for the first time this year, his portrait and name is on it, and the other drum we have out is actually his father, Ballantine," he said.

"Alex would have been a cousin of my grandfather. We have second cousins currently in the lodge, it's good in that it keeps us all together."

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