Upwards of 17,000 members of the Royal Black Institution will be on parade at six locations across Northern Ireland, for the traditional ‘Last Saturday’ demonstrations, held this year on August 25.
Approximately 350 preceptories, most accompanied by bands, will take part in separate processions in Newtownards, Larne, Ballymena, Cookstown, Donemana and Limavady.
Sovereign Grand Master, Rev William Anderson, who will attend the Cookstown parade, said the Institution was looking forward to the much-anticipated day in the parading calendar.
He said: “The ‘Last Saturday’ is rightly regarded as one of the flagship events of the annual parading season and we are once again expecting another glorious day of spectacle and pageantry, enjoyed by tens of thousands at six different venues across the Province.
“The large numbers of spectators in attendance and success of this year’s Sham Fight at Scarva, and the recent County Fermanagh demonstration, underline the enduring appeal and relevance of the Royal Black Institution. We look forward to enhancing our outreach to the wider community through the development of our new headquarters in Co Armagh, which will open to the public in 2020.”
Rev Anderson added: “I trust and pray the respective parades will be wonderful and memorable occasions for all involved. I wish all Sir Knights, preceptories and districts – and our supporters – a fantastic day as we come together in Christian fellowship to celebrate our cultural heritage.”
The largest parade of the day will be in Newtownards where approximately 5,000 members of the Loyal Order will be on parade.
A total of 106 preceptories and over 100 bands will take part in the four-mile procession.
The districts represented will be Lower Iveagh, Lecale, Castlewellan, Newry, Banbridge, Rathfriland, Mourne, Largymore, Ballynahinch, Newtownards, Saintfield, Bangor and Comber.
Among the many preceptories stepping out will be the largest in the Institution, Elijah’s Chosen Few RBP 208 from Mourne District, with more than 250 members.
Bumper crowds are expected to converge on the town, which last hosted the annual County Down Grand Black Chapter procession in 2005.
The main parade will commence at 11.30am, leaving West Winds playing fields, and proceeding via Circular Road, Mill Street, Frederick Street, Regent Street, Frances Street, Windmill Row, East Street, Zion Place, George’s Street, Upper Movilla Street, Queen Street, Upper Greenwell Street, George’s Street, Portaferry Road, Castle Street, High Street, Conway Square, South Street and Comber Road; before returning to the playing fields for the demonstration.
The religious service will begin at 3.30pm and will be chaired by Colin Cunningham, County Down Grand Master.
The guest speaker will be Rev Ron Johnstone.
The return parade will not proceed through the town centre, rather visiting Sir Knights and accompanying bands will leave Newtownards via Blenheim Drive, Comber Road and Messines Road.
Up to 80 preceptories will take part in the County Antrim demonstration in Larne.
The main parade will assemble at Bridge Street at 12.30pm and proceed through the town via Church Road, Inver Road, Bridge Street, High Street, Upper Main Street, Main Street, Lower Main Street, Curran Road, Bay Road, Chaine Memorial Road and Rugby Terrace to the demonstration area at Sandy Bay playing fields.
The participating preceptories will come from six districts representing Lisburn, Ballymena, Antrim, Larne, Ballymoney and Ballyclare.
It is expected there will be upwards of 75 bands and 3,000 members of the Royal Black Institution on parade.
The platform proceedings will begin at 3pm under the chairman, Arthur Beattie, Larne District Master. County Antrim Grand Chaplain, Robert Campbell, will conduct the service of worship.
The guest speaker will be Philip Agnew, a local representative of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The Christian outreach organisation is the designated charity of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter’s latest biennial appeal.
A Last Saturday parade was last held in the Co Antrim town in 2012.
Sir Knights will step out on one of the longest and widest main streets in Ireland for the largest demonstration in Co Tyrone.
Among them will be the Sovereign Grand Master, Rev William Anderson, who is the special guest on the day. It will be the clergyman’s first Last Saturday in the senior role, having been elected in June.
Up to 70 preceptories and a similar number of bands will take part in the Cookstown parade, which will be led by Tullylagan Pipe Band.
Five districts representing south and east Tyrone and north Armagh will take part from Aughnacloy, Killyman, Summerisland, Primatial and East Tyrone. Preceptories from Cavan and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland will also be in attendance.
The main parade will commence at 12 noon from Grange Road and proceed via Tullywiggan Road, Killymoon Street, through the town centre to the demonstration field on the Moneymore Road.
The platform proceedings will start at 2.30pm with Rev Anderson being the principal speaker. The service of worship will be conducted by Rev Robert Boyd. The preacher is Rev Dr David Murphy.
A total of 24 preceptories will take part in the west Tyrone demonstration.
Sir Knights from Strabane District, and from neighbouring Castlederg and Omagh, will be accompanied by as many bands for the annual procession.
The main parade will commence at 1.30pm and move via Longland Road, Lisnarragh Road and Berryhill Road before returning to the Longland Road for a religious service.
The platform proceedings will begin at 2.30pm under the chairmanship of Derek McDermott.
The preacher will be Rev Geoffrey Abraham, with the principal speaker being Deputy County Lay Chaplain, James Emery.
During the service there will be an emphasis on the centenary of the ending of the First World War.
There will also be recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing. In 1998, the Last Saturday was also held in Donemana and members of Omagh District opted not to participate as a mark of respect.
The County Londonderry demonstration will include 35 preceptories representing four districts in South Londonderry, City of Londonderry, Coleraine and Raphoe, County Donegal.
Over 30 bands will accompany the parade, which begins at midday from Ballyclose Street, proceeding through the town via Lower Main Street, Linenhall Street, Protestant Street, William Street, Catherine Street and Irish Green Street to the demonstration field on the Roemill Road.
The platform proceedings are at 2pm and the preacher will be Rev Brian Hassin.
The guest speaker will be the Imperial Grand Registrar, Billy Scott.
The City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter’s demonstration will be held this year in Ballymena.
It is tradition for members of the Institution in the capital city to parade in various provincial towns and cities.
Approximately 50 preceptories, representing seven districts, will step out in north Antrim, accompanied by as many as 30 bands.
The main parade will move off at 11.45am from Ballee Playing Fields, Ballee Road West, Antrim Road, Queen Street, Henry Street, Bridge Street, Waveney Road, Galgorm Road, Linenhall Street, Bridge Street, Henry Street, Queen Street, Antrim Road and Ballee Road West returning to the playing fields for a religious service.
The service of worship will be conducted by Alan McIntosh, City Grand Chaplain, under the chairmanship of the City Grand Master, William Elliott.
City Grand Registrar, Christopher Cunningham, will deliver the main address.
The City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter last held its Last Saturday demonstration in Ballymena in 2009.