Augher, Clogher…..Slugger hits the road

When I blogged our intention to visit the Twelfth in Clogher John Robinson and Iain McClung of Glenageeragh LOL 908, a rural Augher lodge, kindly got in touch to offer some guidance and help. Their hospitality and warmth along with that of their fellow lodge members was greatly appreciated throughout yesterday.

So we started our day with a feeder parade in Augher.

According to the 2001 Census the entire Augher ward was 55% Catholic and the output area (95OO020004) including most of the village was 84% catholic.

The village from the crossroads to the orange hall was kitted out with some bunting, a number of Union flags which were almost matched by Scottish flags and a small amount of NI flags. Around 20 properties, mainly near the Orange hall, displayed flags from flag poles and about half that number had empty flag holders.

The route of the 1/2 mile parade.

The only spectators were a group of family members (20) at the Orange Hall, a small number residents around the hall standing at their doors (6) and a handful in the main street. The two lodges, their bands and some children marched the parade route to almost indifference in a nearly empty street. All in all an exercise that seemed mostly for the benefit of the participants. This parade was listed to be repeated in the evening.

Then they and we travelled the short distance to Clogher for their main district parade.

In the 2001 Census the Clogher ward was 58% Catholic. The output area that includes the village (95OO090003) was 43% Catholic.

While waiting for things to begin we visited an exhibition of old banners and various odds and ends in the Orange hall. Only two of the banners had any real age (100 years) with the others less than 50 years old. The one that jumped out was thread bare and bagged in plastic to protect it – it’s image of Queen Victoria presenting a bible to a kneeling black man (who may have been a romanticised representation of an Indian prince) was a throwback to mindsets long gone for most.

For my first visit inside an orange hall, belonging to what was described as not a particularly active lodge, I couldn’t see much role for this building in community life. It was dirty, mouldy, with peeling paint and an air of long term neglect.

The route of the 1 mile parade that took around 1hr to pass.

We had been told the parade would pass the pubs which were described by religious denominations, these supposedly had mixed clientele and they would come out to watch. One of the pubs was doing a roaring trade; it had been described as protestant. The others opened later and were very much less frequented, one being all but empty.

As the parade approached drinkers from the protestant pub were ushered back inside to comply with parading rules. The clients from other pubs did not rush outside to spectate as promised.

The parade consisted of around 20 bands and lodges. Some of the lodges are tiny with less than 10 members. The biggest wouldn’t have much more than 30. We had been told in most cases the lodge had an attached band and that many of the bandsmen would also be members of the lodge. There were no womens lodges. The most unexpected moment was a rendition of ‘Brown Girl in the Rain’.

One band that stood out amongst the pipes, bagpipes and silver was the sole Blood and Thunder flute band the Aughnacloy Sons of William – they weren’t attached to the lodge they led with some reference to a dispute between them and their local lodge made at the field.

This band as it approach the practically empty Catholic pub called for ‘Here lies a soldier’ before coming to a halt and playing a song about the UVF outside this business. Of course it could have been coincidence this tune was chosen at that moment. However, as they approached the pub on the return leg they were again belting out the UVF tune. It seemed a very deliberate choice from the flute band. When Orangemen were asked about this they didn’t really have an answer. It was a Blood and Thunder band and they’re an acquired taste. I wonder when the clients of the almost empty bar will acquire the taste and frequent the premises on the 12th?

Unsurprisingly the bulk of this band was amongst the limited number of participants that left the field immediately on arrival and headed back to Clogher for refreshment.

The lower part of the village had a sparse group of spectators. Things got a little more crowded half way up the hill. The bulk of supporters had parked and were picnicing on the country road out of the village to the field.

Absolutely no drink was to be seen along the route. Similarly there was no litter. The majority watching seemed to be in family groups.

When the lodges arrived in the field they split and went to predesignated areas. Next to none of the spectators followed the lodges and bands into the field. The lodge members, bandsmen and their families clustered in groups eating sandwiches and quaffing tea with limited entertainment – a bouncy castle, chips and ice-cream.

I’d asked why so many of the people on the route who supported the Orange order to a level they would watch the parade didn’t feel compelled to join and didn’t come to the field. While no definitive answer was given the church attendance aspect was raised as a partial issue. Though they didn’t think this would be a problem in Belfast, hinting more urban lodges may not be so focused on religious aspects. It became clear the main reason so many did not join at the field was because membership seems to be inherited – grandfather, father, son had all come through the lodge and/or attached band. None seemed to be drawn from non-lodge families.

So many people watching this parade may see the 12th as a tradition but they come from families that traditionally don’t join the Orange order – a strange thought.

After the tea had been consumed and sandwiches eaten many made their way to the platform, quite a few sat on enjoying the sun. This short walk allowed me to confirm the absence of drink yet again, apart from 4 discreetly supped bottles of Bud it was tea and juice.

At the platform before a religious service the band played a few tunes including the classic ‘My grandfather’s clock’

I had been told there were politicians at Clogher but it was traditional for there to be no politics at the field, so no elected reps on the platform.

Then the resolutions, while even SF escaped direct attack from the Order this year Alex Salmond’s SNP were singled out:

We are concerned that political parties which have as their aim the break-up of the Union are in positions of influence within government in Northern Ireland and Scotland and in the latter context we believe that the aim of the Scottish National Party to have a referendum on the Union is a dangerous and divisive road to travel.

We all stood for ‘God save the queen’ and for the curious yes that did include me; I was in a field full of hundreds of Orangemen after all 😉

The return parade followed the same route back before dispersal.

Clogher differed in many ways from Belfast and Bangor which I’ve visited previously. It is much smaller, it is clearly a family orientated day for participants and spectators, the style of bands is less hardcore (mainly), the drinking is minimal and there was nearly no litter left on the streets.

When I’d discussed visiting someone suggested vox-popping supporters and opponents with ‘What does the 12th mean to you?’. A refreshingly frank Orangeman countered with, it doesn’t matter what nationalists or catholics think – the day is neither for nor about them.

While Clogher certainly isn’t overtly threatening beyond one minor incident, it certainly isn’t inclusive and I doubt even here many or any nationalists or catholics attend at any stage. Even the supporters are separate from signed up members of the Orange.

A mainly inoffensive rural day for rural protestant unionists.

We were kindly invited to dine with the brethren of Glenageeragh that evening but declined and went elsewhere on which there will be blogs later.

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  • This is the way it SHOULD be.
    This is the way it CAN be.
    “a mainly inoffensive rural day out for rural Protestant unionists”.
    But the underlying thing here is decent good manners.
    Can it translate to Rathcoole? or East Belfast?
    Im not so sure.
    Its not simply about rural and urban.
    Its about Decency.
    The average Cloghter Valley Orangema n would see little in common with a kick the Pope band. Its tacky.
    And frankly the average nationalist and republican in Fermanagh South Tyrone would find little in common with an Ardoyne hoodie. (actually even the people in Ardoyne have little in common with such a person).

    And I think we make a mistake to think of Orange-ism or the Opposition to it to be homogenous. Its not.
    Good manners might just save Orangeism ….if they makea stand against its excesses…..inluding the flag burning and the queens highway rhetoric. Ultimately the only thing that really caused the Drumcree defeat for Orangeism was its own sheer bad manners.
    Marching where youre not wanted….and frankly loving the fact that youre not welcome…… bad manners.
    But heres the rub…..
    Crumlin Road, Ormeau Road, Newtownards Road are arterial roads. They are without ownership either to the residents or Mrs Windsor.
    A bit of decency all round wouldnt be a bad thing.

  • Very interesting write-up Mark, thank you.

  • Alanbrooke

    Shit !

    MM visits rural Ulster and finds most of it is full of farmers enjoying a day off.

    It always has been and most of these guys have lived next door to their catholic neighbours for ever and never felt the urge to march through their kitchen.

    Politics means nothing when a cow’s in calf – or your wife for that matter.

    Revolutionary socialists rarley stick their arms up a cow’s nether regions.

    Good report Mark – get out more !

  • lamhdearg

    As at least 6 orange halls have been attacked in Tyrone this year alone, we will have to conclude that it’s not all easy going farmers down there.

    not a bad try at sounding conciliatory, i think i understand why it took 24 hours to finish, as you must have been up all night editing to make it so. How long will you have to wear the cilice?.

  • lamhdearg

    Tyrone school attacked by vandals (bbc news web site), move along, nothing to see here. Don’t mention the S word,it’s all just recreational violence. hmm how’s that work, just recreationly walk a mile up the road to wreck a school, a mixed school at that, talk about not having a prod about the place, but shh dont mention the S word, move along nothing to see here, thanks bbc n.i. true to form.

  • JR

    Interesting to read Mark. If all Orange celebrations were like this there would be no trouble on the 12th. I Watched the parade in Warrenpoint myself (90.0% Catholic 8.5% Protestant). It consisted of one brass band followed by about 50 sheepish looking Orange men. The ones at the back were thanking the cars for pulling in. Everyone in the town went about their daily business and the Parade took all of 20min.

    No sash or billy boys here. Just brass band marching music which is quite enjoyable on a sunny afternoon. The contrast between this and the only other Orange march I experienced (Shankill) was like day and night.

  • keano10

    A well written and also informative piece.

    I’m not sure though why it’s such a surprise that Catholics/Nationalists do not appear to participate in even the most placid of rural demonstrations.

    It just show the extent to which The Orange Order is alienated from everyone but its own Unionist/Protestant heartlands. Having said that, the institution itself is constitutionally sectarian and i dont actually think that the leadership of The Orange Order have any desire for the curent situation to change.

    They may attract a few curious tourists to the more Urban Demonstrations but there is’nt (realistically) a cat in hell’s chance of anyone from the broader Nationalist community embracing any of this stuff in medium to long -term.

    To be honest, I dont think that the Orange Order want that anyway. They are what they are…

  • longoldlane

    Interresting to read your peice

    A few things worth pointing out,

    The parade in Augher is only a feeder parade, most people would be making their way to the main demonstration to get a good parking space.

    Ok probbably not the most modern hall, the old damp smell would have been the old banners, some had been in storage for a number of years. There are plans afoot to give it a face lift but it does take a lot of money.
    However the hall would be used by the local community at least once a week if not oftener.

    “the all but empty pub” would not be known locally as a welcome place for orangemen or bands however I think you would have found it difficult to differ who was who between the other 3 pubs.

    Interesting you mention the only “blood and thunder” flute band,not to mention the number of competetion bands
    both silver and pipes well reconised for there quality throughout the UK and Southern Ireland

    “None seemed to be drawn from non-lodge families.”
    I beg to differ this is not the case, not sure how you come to this conclusion!

    I should also point out, I spoke with a party of Polish spectators who had brought friends on holiday here to see the parade, not the first time i’ve seen this.

    All in all nice to read your artical.

  • Mark, do you get offended when you watch ‘ The Quiet Man’??

    ‘Here lies a Soldier is ‘The Isle of Innishfree’.

    Music is music. Bands dont sing. If its percieved as something thats an issue and problem for the perciever- not the performer.

    As for the report- incredibly partial and you just sound like your trying too hard to find fault.

  • Mark McGregor


    That explains it, they twice played the same tribute to the Quiet Man outside an establishment that had been pointed out as ‘catholic’. How nice of them.

    How about you accept the only criticisms I could make of this parade are very minor in relation to it’s entirety but legitimate factual accounts (spinning it just does you a disservice, something those attending didn’t even attempt).

  • Mark McGregor


    You say some Polish were there? I heard the Lutheraneanns also turned up (in joke for now).

  • keano10


    What about the tune for ‘Billy Boys’? Is it from Darby O’Gill and the little people…? 🙂

  • lamhdearg


    hurah hurah, while we where marching through Georgia.

  • Nunoftheabove


    So the versions vocalized at, say, Ibrox, are contemptible distortions of the intentions of the OO in relation to the version they’re intending to play and that the rest of us are silly for not perceiving in the correct manner ?

  • Skinner

    Mark – strikes me as a very fair and balanced piece. I wasn’t there so I can’t tell how accurate it is but it certainly accords with my own experience of rural Twelfths years ago.

    Particularly interested in the Blood and Thunder band playing that song outside the ‘catholic’ pub. I remember a similar practice in Enniskillen when a band struck up The Sash outside the catholic chapel. There is no doubt in my mind that it was done deliberately, especially since they had to march on the spot to finish the previous tune, so the timing was right for The Sash.

    The shrugged shoulders reaction of the Orangemen is so disappointing, especially since some other members genuinely try to welcome outsiders.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mark, when you mentioned that song to me in the field I will admit I had totally forgotten the lyrics, it is that long since I heard it, my first reaction was how can “Scotland The Brave” be offensive, them I twigged on later, it probably wasn’t the 1950’s theme of The Quietman, Isle of Innishfree, they were playing either, even if John Wayne was an Orangeman.

    On the other hand, Lamhdearg has a point with “Marching Through Georgia”, the tune obviously predates Billy Boys, with that particular Glasgow gang hardly likely to be song writers, it has always been a popular dance tune and hence came into band repetroirs, it eventually had new lyrics added by the Glasgow folk which eclisped the original, but not in all cases.

    I was disgused elsewhere to read accusations of “what a Friend we have in Jesus” gaining sectarian lyrics, if that is the case then no tune is safe, which brings us back full circle. Can any tune be called offensive? it is the words that can be, however reading the lyrics of “Here lies a Soldier” just makes me cringe, its inaccurate meaningless tripe, and is only remembered because it fits in the UVF.

    I wish it wasn’t played, and certainly not to antagonise at a “catholic” pub, or just as bad to stirr up the crowd at a “protestant” pub, but dealing with it is not easy, and slapping on bans left right and centre won’t work, a bit more education might though, and maybe if more people took the steps Mark has taken of gonig outside of their comfort zones some progress can be made.

  • lamhdearg

    “This band as it approach the practically empty Catholic pub called for ‘Here lies a soldier’ before coming to a halt and playing a song about the UVF outside this business”

    These are your words in this post, M.P.has posted a video of the incident, i think you should talk to thim about re-editing it as it makes a lie of your words, the band in M.P.s post do not come to a halt , and they ask for scotish soldier, now i can see that in your offened state “scotish soldier” could pass for here lies a soldier (i can’t really see it), but for you to have seen the band come to a halt, please explain.

  • lamhdearg

    mark mcg,
    hello, are you there.

  • Mark

    Lamhdearg – mark is red carded …..??/

  • lamhdearg

    thats handy.

  • PeterBrown

    Let’s see if Keano10 (I’m no longer assuming he can actually count to 10) can reply to the thread on the Lower Newtownards Road where he has also dug himself and the entire Short Starnd Resident’s Group an equally large hole

  • actually lamhdearg the band came to a halt a couple of seconds after i stopped the video. I’m not sure if it was because the parade was ‘backed up’ or not but they did stop

  • lamhdearg

    M.P. “actually lamhdearg the band came to a halt a couple of seconds after i stopped the video” so where they insulting the butcher or the supermarket, as the band in your clip is already past Mcsorleys tavern as your clip ends and the next bar Bogues is a good 50m up the road, and the band is already 30 seconds into a tune that lasts around 1min 50 sec, the most they played outside Bogues was a couple of notes. And this is not what Mark sugested.
    Now as Mark McG is not here to defend himself, and as i do not do schadenfreude, i going to leave it at that, however if you or anyone is going to come on and try to square the circle, please come up with something better than that.

  • you were not there lamhdearg so that squares the circle for me.
    Thanks for commenting on one of my threads btw…you are always welcome

  • Another nub has been reached here regarding bands and tunes.

    The music almost always has innoculus origins. As pointed out The Isle of Innishfree is a polular air. As is Marching through Georgia.

    Theres no issue when say the 5th Alabama Field Music play marching through Georgia, and theirs no issue with The Quiet man.

    But wait its because of the lyrics- but wait yet again bands dont sing??

    So this boils down to the fact that it ISNT the music thats objected to- its the people playing it. It ISNT the music that some choose to find offensive (everybody loves The Quiet Man!!), its the people playing it.

    Objection to music or offence to music is a perception and principle being applied that is purely sectarian – what else can it be, theres no singing- its totally and utterly about the people playing. That is sectarian.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Of course; If Jackie Mason tells an unexploitative Jewish joke, it’s regarded ok for both Jews and gentiles to laugh. The OO appear to regard people who get offended by proudly anti-semitic gentiles telling very vulgar explicitly Jewish jokes through a loud hailer outside of a synagogue as hypersensitive and pretending to be offended. And that they’re bigots for complaining about it, leaving aside their ill-humour in not joining in the laughter. Moreoever, it’s their divinely ordained right to tell these jokes as often and as loudly as they please and anyone who doesn’t like it can go shit in their yarmulke.

  • eh?