Belfast Telegraph

The Twelfth: Markethill

Thousands watch on as village hosts 5,000 Orangemen and 80 bands

By Nevin Farrell

Markethill in Co Armagh boasted the biggest gathering of Orangemen in Northern Ireland on the Twelfth.

The BBC may not have acted upon Newry and Armagh's Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy's call for a pre-Twelfth weather forecast to have been delivered from the route of the parade in Markethill, but as elsewhere on the biggest day of the Orange calendar, on Saturday marchers and spectators on the route of the parade found they had to deal with mixed meteorological conditions.

The town, which has a usual population of just 2,000, was bursting at the seams as 5,000 Orange brethren were on parade watched by thousands more spectators. They came from across Co Armagh and beyond.

The 150 lodges were accompanied by 80 bands led by Tullyhappy Coronation Accordion Band.

For those present, holiday joy was in the air as there were special fairground attractions in place at the Field on the Mowhan Road for the younger, and not so young, participants in the big day out. The Twelfth in Markethill was also a special occasion for brave six-year-old Blake McCaughey who took his place with Portadown True Blues band, despite suffering from a rare genetic disorder which means he needs a special wheelchair.

He was kitted out in a junior-sized band uniform and had his mohican hairstyle dyed red and blue. His wheelchair was also fitted with customised wheel trims for the occasion, showing off the name of the band as their mascot.

Blake's mum Christine said: "It is better than Christmas for him and he will be out again at Scarva on Monday."

This year, Co Armagh brethren are celebrating the start of work to renovate the Sloan's House museum and interpretive centre at Loughgall.

It is where the first Orange warrants were signed after the Battle of the Diamond in 1795 which led to the formation of the Orange Order.

Lodges of the host Markethill district hosted a short memorial service before the main parade for 10 local brethren killed by the IRA during the Troubles.

Belfast Telegraph


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