Bands and brethren step out in Aghalee

The Prentice Family Pond Park LOL 722.  Pic by Norman Briggs, rnbphotographyni.
The Prentice Family Pond Park LOL 722. Pic by Norman Briggs, rnbphotographyni.

The quaint village of Aghalee provided a perfect backdrop for this year’s South Antrim Combine Twelfth demonstration.

Every vantage point along the grass verges was taken as around 30 bands and upwards of 2,000 Orangemen made their way through the picturesque countryside from the Soldierstown Road assembly point to the field on the Chapel Road.

The numbers were swelled by bands and lodges from Scotland, as well as lodges from Liverpool, the south of England and even further afield.

Seven districts in all from the Lisburn and surrounding areas make up the South Antrim parade – Lisburn, Glenavy, Magheragall, Hillsborough, Derriaghy, Ballinderry and Aghalee.

It is seven years since the parade was last held in the village and the large, colourful crowd, of all ages, generated a welcoming atmosphere for the brethren taking part.

Along the narrow country roads, the parade took almost an hour to pass any given point.

There was a particularly warm welcome for the Caldercruix Defenders band that had travelled to Aghalee from the North Lanarkshire village near Airdrie.

Also enjoying the hospitality were members of an English lodge with the unusual name of ‘Not For All Salisbury’ LOL 54 from Wiltshire.

The lodge name reflects the defiant answer given by the Wiltshire martyr John Maundrell when asked in 1556 to recant his Protestant faith.

The religious service at the Chapel Road demonstration field was led by a local minister, Rev Paul McAdams.

The address was given by Rev Nicholas Cooper.

Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor Alex Redpath enjoyed the parade from the centre of Aghalee village and used the occasion to bring his extended family together for a day of celebration.

“The crowds were great and there was a very good collection of lodges and bands,” he said.

“Almost all the lodges, including the one from Wiltshire, had very healthy numbers taking part.

“It was good to see so many children out enjoying themselves as well. I had between 30 and 40 of my extended family down for the parade so it was a great opportunity to bring people together.”

Mr Redpath added: “After the parade it was granny’s for lunch and then I’ll have everyone back at my place later for a barbecue.

“Just exactly what you want on a day like this. A glorious Twelfth in every sense of the word.”