Belfast Telegraph

Loughgall, birthplace of Orangeism to host Twelfth's biggest march

By Tim Smith

More than 600 bands will take part in Twelfth of July demonstrations across 17 venues in Northern Ireland.

Preparations are in their final stages with the Orange Institution's big day just a fortnight away. The largest parade will be held in the picturesque Co Armagh village of Loughgall - the birthplace of Orangeism.

Check out pictures from last year's marches: Belfast - Annalong - Beragh - Cloughmills - Ballymena - Cookstown - Lisbellaw- Hillsborough Bangor - Kilrea - Ballynahinch - Coleraine - Cullybackey - Clogher Richhill - Newtownabbey - Broughshane - Banbridge Ardoyne

This year marks the 328th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne and upwards of 500,000 people are expected to participate or watch what is widely regarded as one of the largest annual festivals in Europe.

Thousands of Orangemen, women and juniors - accompanied by the many marching bands - will step out at the various locations.

Belfast hosts the longest Twelfth procession, with participants walking over six miles to the field. A large Scottish contingent is expected in the city for the celebrations.

The capital and Ballymena are the only venues where Twelfth demonstrations occur every year.

Other significant parades this year will take place in Londonderry, Brookeborough (Co Fermanagh), Ballyclare (Co Antrim), Donaghcloney (Co Down) and Stewartstown (Co Tyrone).

Meanwhile, breaking with tradition, more than 1,000 Orangemen from Mourne District will join their neighbouring brethren at the Newcastle demonstration.

However, the most symbolic parade will take place in Loughgall, where the traditional sight and sound of Lambeg drums will add to the festivities.

The procession will pass the Museum of Orange Heritage at Sloan's House, where the Orange Institution was founded in 1795 following the Battle of the Diamond, located on the outskirts of Loughgall.

Grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson will attend the Castlederg parade in Co Tyrone.

He said: "The Twelfth of July offers a unique opportunity for the Orange Institution and the bands community to showcase our culture and heritage, and we are confident of welcoming increasing numbers of visitors, tourists and families to all of our parades.

"There are very few events on these islands that can bring such vast numbers of people onto the streets, either by taking part or simply to watch the music and pageantry."

The July 12 demonstrations will follow the traditional Rossnowlagh parade held in Co Donegal on the preceding weekend. This year it takes place on Saturday, July 7.

Belfast Telegraph

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