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Twelfth: Keeping it in the family... how a love of the Lambeg spans the generations

By Rebecca Black

Published 12/07/2016

Colin McCusker with his children, Jayne and Sam
Colin McCusker with his children, Jayne and Sam
Joe Baird (77), with his son Keith Baird (54) and his grandsons Charlie Crawford (6) and four-year-old Alfie Crawford
MP Harold McCusker

Family is an important theme of the Twelfth for many people, few more so than the Baird family from Banbridge who can trace their history with the Brague Rising Sons of Ulster LOL 427 back to 1900.

Keith Baird (54) and his father, Joe (77), will be stepping out with the lodge in Dromore. Keith's young grandsons, Charlie (6) and Alfie (4), will be eagerly waiting along the route, and are most excited about the drums.

"They will maybe join us for the last quarter of a mile or so," Keith said. "I joined the lodge when I was 16. I have been out on parade every year since and have been lodge secretary since 18 - a job that maybe someone else needs to start doing soon!

"There are now five generations through the lodge. You can go back to around 1900 and trace the Baird name."

Lambeg drums are also a long family tradition, and Keith was expecting to be up until midnight preparing them.

"In our principles, it says the Orange Institution will make a good man a better man, and I believe there is nothing that will ever harm a man in the Orange Institution - it will only lift him and uphold him," he said.

A few miles away in Portadown, Ulster Unionist councillor Colin McCusker will be on parade with his brother and uncle, while his children will carry the strings of their lodge's banner, Boconnell LOL 123, which is part of Lurgan District No 6.

Colin has never missed a Co Armagh demonstration, from the years he was taken as a baby, to carrying banner strings, to joining as a teenager.

However, there is always a personal touch of sadness on the Twelfth morning due to his father, the late UUP MP Harold McCusker, not being there.

"He joined the lodge in 1971, the year I was born," Colin said.

"I think about him from time to time during the day, and of course a lot I'll meet on the day will remember him too."

Colin said the Twelfth was the second biggest day for his family after Christmas day. "I think what makes it so special is the family all coming together," he added. "After the parade we'll have grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles - more than 20 in total - at my house for a barbecue.

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