Monday, July 13, 2009

The Glorious Twelfth

It's years since I was in Northern Ireland for the Glorious Twelfth. I remember it as the most colourful part of my dull rural childhood for my father was Worshipful Master of a tiny Orange Lodge, and on the 12th July we were taken to watch him marching through the local village behind a raggle taggle accordian band. He wore his best dark suit, his shoes were polished and his hair was slicked back with Brylcreme. This was the early 70s and I was too young to understand the tribal connotations of the marching Orangemen - my favourite 'tune' was The Green Grassy Slopes of the Boyne.
Now I realise most Orangemen have never seen the Boyne river. The infamous battle between William of Orange and King James that is commemorated with band parades in Northern Ireland took place in what is now County Louth, in the Republic of Ireland and Orangemen rarely cross the border, even nowadays.
My father is one of the lucky few. I went to university in Dublin and for four years he had the job of driving me there, and driving me home, with my bicycle strapped to the roof of the car. There was no motorway and we always stopped for a picnic on the green grassy slopes of the Boyne.

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