Belfast Telegraph

Crowd of 100,000 descends on Scarva as pageant re-enacts the Battle of the Boyne

By Rebecca Black

Usually sleepy Scava saw an invasion of more than 100,000 people for Northern Ireland's largest single-day event - the Sham Fight.

Visitors from across Ireland and further afield converged on the Co Down village yesterday to see the annual re-enactment of the battle between William of Orange and King James.

Crowds lined the streets on foot and in deckchairs to see the Royal Black Preceptory (RBP) on parade, led by Tandragee.

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell described the Sham Fight as the biggest one-day event at a single location in Northern Ireland, and Stormont provided funding to allow extra stewards to ensure it ran smoothly.

Around 90 preceptories of the Royal Black Institution took part, an estimated 4,000 people, accompanied by 90 bands.

Actor John Adair returned for a 20th year as King Billy triumphing over King James, played by Brian Johnston.

It was at Scarva that, over 300 years ago, King William tied his horse up under a chestnut tree for a rest on his way to the Battle of the Boyne.

Scarva is the last surviving Sham Fight on the island of Ireland. Previously up to six took place each year, including one in the Cork town of Bandon.

Following a religious service at the field conducted by the Rev John Batchelor, county grand chaplain of Armagh, the sovereign grand master Millar Farr gave the main address.

On the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, he paid tribute to all the Allied personnel who died in the Second World War. Mr Farr said members of the RBP, known as Sir Knights, were wearing Red Crosses on their collarettes to commemorate VE Day.

The RBP chief reaffirmed the institution's loyalty to the Queen.

"On September 9, just over eight weeks away, Her Majesty will become the longest reigning British Monarch and longest reigning female monarch in world history," he said.

"The duration of her reign has spanned a period of years in which there has been times of great joy and also periods of difficulty for the royal family and our nation.

"I am sure like her loyal subjects, Her Majesty was delighted by the birth of her latest great granddaughter Princess Charlotte who is now fourth in line to the throne, so today we assembled in Scarva send our congratulations and good wishes to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on this joyous event."

Mr Farr spoke against what he termed attempts to "undermine the laws which control the use of drugs, gambling and alcohol as well as the moral system by which we live".

He said that the countries of the UK were stronger together.

"Just last year there was a concerted effort to break up this nation through the referendum held in Scotland under the guise that independence would be good for that country," he said.

"Nothing could have been further from the truth. The unity of the four countries which make up this United Kingdom has provided stability and strength, serving us well in a world where individual small countries struggle to remain viable or survive.

"Thankfully that attempt to break up this nation failed and today we remain a United Kingdom. It is our hope it will remain so in the future because we are a family and families are at their strongest when they are together, and this in turn brings benefits for all."

Meanwhile, armed police had to move in to quell a public disorder situation which took place at the end of the event.

Six arrests were made and a number of PSNI officers were injured.

The six men were charged with a number of public order offences on Wednesday afternoon.

It is understood that the disorder was in the area of the beer tent.

Preservation of UK hailed following referendum, as is Queen's record-breaking reign

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph