Sunday, August 27, 2006

Black Saturday

Yesterday was Black Saturday, the annual event in the calendar of the so-called Loyal Orders, when the Royal Black Institution holds its main parades at six venues in Northern Ireland. In County Down there are 13 districts, who take it in turn to host the parade, and this year was the turn of Saintfield. [Two years until Dromore hosts it again!]

So off I set in my chauffeur role, taking mum and my aunt to see the parade. After a series of diversions round wee country lanes from the Ballynahinch Road to the Lisburn Road at Temple, and eventually onto the Comber Road. Having abandoned the car at the gates of an industrial estate, we walked into Saintfield and got morning coffee. Already the town was alive with the sounds of pipes and flutes, accordians and brass instruments, and drums aplenty.

Having seen the parade going to the Demonstration field, we decided to move on to Bangor, where the Belfast parade was being hosted. It was a lovely sunny day, and with the Bank holiday weekend events going on in the coastal town, we enjoyed the afternoon watching the 'not the red arrows'- another flight display team thought to be the red arrows, until it was pointed out that the planes weren't red!

Meanwhile, I also went to find the demonstration field in Bangor... but to no avail. One burger van in the midst of the cinema car park and a fella beating a big drum, and that was it. Nothing else. It turns out that the city people don't have a field as such - suppose it wouldn't suit townies, but have a service in a church.

Eventually the parade was coming back, and we stood outside St Comgall's to see it. But, to be fair, it wasn't the biggest... and all the bands were very closely packed together. And except for maybe 3 accordian bands, the rest were flute bands. Suddenly, the dignified country brethren seemed a much better parade than the city parade, with a wider variety of bands, and much bigger!

But then, I suppose, if you have been to the biggest and best Black parade (County Down), then how could any other parade compare? So it's back to Bangor next year for the County Down parade.


  1. "so-called Loyal Orders" Whats your point Mr McMurray!

  2. Black march in Coleraine on Saturday ruined my day. Couldn't get in nor out of the place and my children were most uncomfortable with the whole set up. Some bands were quite respectable and sounded good, but others in their appearance and choice of music were blatantly sectarian. I as a protestant felt threatened by the hangers on following these bands and I can only imagine what sort of an impression this would give to non protestants.

  3. Yes its time we did away with all these loyal order things and joined hands with our neighbours. our churches are on the path to union with Rome so lets speed it up. We arent really British anyway so lets embrace being Irish and the wonderful Irish culture. Guinness anyone?