As Loughbrickland hosted the Twelfth at the weekend, keen Orange observers would have noticed a number of new, and interesting, banners being proudly displayed by local lodges.
The most personal of which was on display by Loughbrickland District LOL.10. The bannerette, showing a large stone sitting upright marks the location where King William’s troops camped in Loughbrickland en route to the Boyne just over three centuries ago.
However, the banner is not only significant due to its direct ties between King William of Orange and Loughbrickland, but because it was painted in memory of the son-in-law of Loughbrickland’s Worshipful District Master, Keith Murdoch.
Keith’s son-in-law, Graeme Kilpatrick, sadly passed away following a farming accident last year. He was 32-years-old.
A second bannerette which was unfurled also holds great significance for the Gideons Chosen Few LOL. No.21. The image shown is that of Aghaderg Parish Church (Church of Ireland).
The banners were unfurled at a special dedication service at the Ross Memorial Field held last week. Among those in attendance were Bro. Reverend Canon George Lyttle, who carried out the service and Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, Bro. Tom Eillott, who was the guest speaker.
Members were also treated to a historic re-enactment of the Battle of Boyne, with King William, (John Adair) and King James (Colin Cairns), who with swords drawn, engaged in the epic fight.
Of course the re-enactment is central to the Thirteenth celebrations in Scarva which sees tens of thousands flocking to the village to witness the ‘Sham Fight’. The Williamite forces invariably win.
The Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution Millar Farr, said of this year’s Scarva celebrations, “The Sham Fight is now firmly established on the summer calendar for Northern Ireland. It is a wonderful event, organised by a local group of dedicated people, who ensure that the tens of thousands of spectators and the people taking part can enjoy the day.
“It is without doubt the biggest one-day event, at a single location, in Northern Ireland. Every year we have between 80,000 and 100,000 people who want to celebrate their culture.
“We know that people keep coming back every year.”
Huge numbers also visited Loughbrickland on Friday and keen history buffs may have noticed a special tribute by Drumlough Heroes LOL 153 (Rathfriland) which marks the centenary last year of the sinking of the Titanic. Their bannerette was painted in honour of a Past Master of the Lodge – Thomas Rowan Morrow – who was the only third class passenger from Ulster to perish onboard the famous vessel in 1912.
Thomas Morrow boarded the famous vessel at Cobh (formerly Queenstown), Co. Cork. He was travelling across the Atlantic to be reunited with his brother, Waddell, who has immigrated to Canada three years’ earlier.
He died just two days before his 32nd birthday.
Drumlogh LOL 153 believe Morrow is the only Orangeman to have perished in the Titanic disaster.
The south Down Lodge won the Best New Banner Award at this year’s Orange Community Awards. The banner went up against five other banners - each representing a county of Northern Ireland - for the award.