While last year’s celebrations were dubbed the ‘Twelfth At Home’ this year’s has been titled the ‘Twelfth Near Home’.
Orangemen in Co Armagh traditionally meet for a single county demonstration on the Twelfth – this year was meant to be Armagh City – however, the 5,000 brethren from the 11 districts will gather at nine separate locations due to the ongoing restrictions around the Covid pandemic.
Portadown District LOL No 1
This is the largest District Lodge in Co Armagh with 28 Private Lodges and almost 840 brethren. It has the distinction of being the first District Lodge formed in 1796 and the town is often referred to as the “Orange Citadel”. Due to the current Covi-19 regulations which indicate that gatherings can number no more than 500 persons, on the 12th the District will leave Carleton Street Orange Hall in 2 sections, one at 11.30am and the next at 11.50am.
The District is always led by the immaculately turned out Portadown Ex-Servicemen’s LOL 608 and there will be 12 bands accompanying the parade, including 2 from Scotland. Several Lodges will have Lambeg Drums and a number of Ladies Lodges and Junior Lodges will also be on parade. The parade will take in most of the town.
Richhill District LOL No 2
This District has 5 Private Lodges and almost 260 members. There will be 3 bands accompanying the brethren, including Battlehill Pipe Band which regularly takes part in competitions. Richhill True Blues LOL 665 has the distinction of being the largest Private Lodge in the County with 85 members, including a large proportion of young brethren.
The District parade in the village on the 12th will commence at 11.30am, and after a wreath-laying ceremony at the village War Memorial, it will cover most of the village and then process to the local Presbyterian Church car park for a short service.
Loughgall District LOL No 3
Loughgall District has the proud distinction of having the 2 Winter Cottages and the “Museum of Orange Heritage” at Sloan’s House, where the first Orange Lodge Warrants were signed after the Battle of the Diamond, within the area. It can rightly claim to have the roots of Orangeism and it has 22 Private Lodges and over 700 brethren. Many of the Lodges go back to the formation of the Institution in 1795 and have low Warrant Numbers.
Eight bands will be on parade and some of the Lodges will have Lambeg Drums. The parade on the 12th will leave from the Armagh side of the village at 11.30am and proceed to a field on the Portadown Road for a service. The local Ladies Lodge and Junior Lodge will be on parade.
Tandragee District LOL No 4
This is a District steeped in Orangeism with 21 Private Lodges and almost 650 brethren. Each 12th the Lodges of the District form the “Ring Ceremony” at the Square and have a short religious service – this ring is quite unique as Tandragee is thought to be the only District Lodge that has this ceremony.
On the 12th, the Lodges will assemble from 12 noon and then at 12.30pm the Ring will be formed in the Square. There will be 5 bands accompanying the brethren. As it is a District well known for the number of Lambeg Drums on parade, several Lodges will have them beating out their distinctive sound. The local Ladies Lodge and Junior Lodge will be parading.
Armagh District LOL No 5
Armagh District is an immaculately turned out one, with most of the brethren resplendent in their bowler hats and white gloves. The District has 10 Private Lodges and 366 brethren; it will have 5 bands on parade, including some of the best pipe and accordion bands in the country.
The 12th parade will commence at the Orange Hall on The Mall at 11.30am and as the Primatial City was to have been the venue for the County Demonstration this year and indeed last year, the County Standards and several of the County Grand Lodge Officers will be in attendance.
Lurgan District LOL No 6
This District Lodge (at one time known as O’Neilland East District after the Barony of that name) is based in the majestic surroundings of Brownlow House and has 19 Private Lodges, with almost 500 brethren. A few of the Private Lodges meet in Halls on the shores of Lough Neagh. 4 bands will be on parade, including 2 from Scotland. Some Ladies Lodges and the Junior Lodge will join the brethren and the parade will leave from Brownlow House at 11.30am on the 12th.
After a parade of the town the District will return to Brownlow House where a special Centenary Stone will be unveiled to mark the 100th Anniversary of Northern Ireland.
Killylea District LOL No 7
A proud District Lodge with 12 Private Lodges and 383 brethren. One Lodge, Caledon LOL 177, meets in neighbouring Co Tyrone and another is the quaintly-named Cooey Dingers LOL 289.
There will be 9 bands on parade with the District on the 12th and the parade of the village will commence at 11.30am. Again, there will be a wide variety of bands accompanying the brethren, with pipe, accordion, flute and silver all on parade. The local Junior Boys and Junior Girls Lodges will be on parade.
Keady District LOL No 8
Keady District will join with Newtownhamilton District and Bessbrook District on the 12th for a parade in Newtownhamilton. Some of the Private Lodges however will parade locally at their Orange Halls either in the morning or afternoon, or indeed both.
One of the most popular and largest bands in the country, Drumderg Loyalists Flute Band, will accompany Drumderg LOL 1236.
Newtownhamilton District LOL No 9
This is a very active District Lodge with 10 Private Lodges and almost 315 members. One Lodge, Knocknanin LOL 1158, meets across the border in Co Monaghan. The District has 7 bands and has invited Keady District LOL No 8 and Bessbrook District LOL No 11 to join them on parade on the 12th. Tullyvallen Guiding Star Temperance LOL 630b will be present with their Memorial Banner which commemorates the 5 members murdered by Republican terrorists at the monthly Lodge meeting in the Orange Hall on 1 September 1975.
Keady District has 7 Private Lodges, with 215 brethren and 4 bands; Bessbrook District has 4 Private Lodges, with 128 brethren and 2 bands. The parade will commence at 12 noon.
Markethill District LOL No 10
Another very active District with 12 Private Lodges and well over 500 brethren; it has 8 bands. Each 12th morning, the District holds a short service at the Memorial Stone in the Square when the 10 local brethren who were murdered during The Troubles are remembered.
On the 12th, the District parade will commence at 11.30am from the Armagh side of the town and will process to a field on the Mowhan Road for a short service. The Junior Boys and Junior Girls Lodges will join the parade, along with the 2 local Ladies Lodges.
Bessbrook District LOL No 11
Whilst this District will join with Keady and Newtownhamilton Districts in the latter village for the 12th parade, the local Lodges will parade Bessbrook at approximately 9.30am that morning and hold a short service of remembrance at the Kingsmill Memorial beside the Town Hall which commemorates the 10 Protestants murdered at Kingsmill in January 1976.
Bessbrook may be the smallest District Lodge in Co Armagh with 4 Private Lodges, but they are certainly one of the most vibrant in the Institution. 3 of the Lodges meet in the village Orange Hall and the other meets in Divernagh Orange Hall.
Co Armagh Grand Orange Lodge strongly requests that members of the general public abide by the current Covid-19 regulations on social distancing and the wearing of face coverings to reduce community transmission.
Please also assist us by spreading out all along the parade routes and not creating large gatherings at any one point. We would ask spectators not to follow the parades, but to please make use of your garden facilities, where possible.