Northern Ireland’s annual Sham Fight is recognised as a unique cultural event, with upwards of 100,000 people expected in Scarva on Saturday, July 13.
The small and quaint Co Down village is renowned for hosting the biggest one-day event, at a single location, anywhere in the Province.
The annual clash between King William and King James and the large-scale procession through Scarva – hosted by Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial RBP 1000 – is now firmly established as a major tourist and family attraction.
Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution, Rev William Anderson, said: “The Sham Fight is a truly wonderful family occasion and we are looking forward to another extremely successful day.
“As a Christian-based organisation, the religious service is extremely important to our members. The procession to the field, through thousands of people lining the village streets, is a unique spectacle of music and pageantry.
“And the actual re-enactment of the famous battle always attracts attention. The thirteenth as it is so often and fondly described, is about history coming alive, and is to be enjoyed by everyone.”
Rev Anderson paid tribute to the organising committee of volunteers and RBP 1000, which celebrates its centenary this year.
To mark the occasion, members will be given the honour of leading the main parade, accompanied by Sir Henry Inglesby Fife and Drum.
Worshipful master Craig Adair said: “Scarva is a special day packed with music, pageantry and culture. It’s a day of historical significance and an event that attracts visitors from near and far. We are very proud to host the Sham Fight, particularly on this our centenary year, and look forward to another memorable occasion.”
The Sham Fight at the Demesne is the only remaining one of its kind in Ireland. At the top of the field where the re-enactment is staged, is the chestnut tree where King William tied his horse on the way to the Battle of the Boyne and where his troops rested.
King William is played by John Adair and King James by Colin Cairns. The main protagonists are accompanied by re-enactors in period costume and a number of horses. Both kings will be dressed in new Williamite uniforms this year.
Mr Adair, who has been playing the main role for nearly 30 years, said: “There is always a terrific response from the public, when we arrive at the battlefield on horseback. This year we will have new uniforms so that will be something extra on the day. It will be another extremely tense battle, but I will certainly do my utmost to put King James to the sword once again.”
An adjoining cultural field will also showcase musical entertainment, highland dancing, historical displays, and other activities for the many visitors to enjoy throughout the day.
The Sham Fight will be preceded by a large parade, with up to 90 preceptories and as many bands taking part in the procession through the village. Approximately 4,000 members of the Royal Black Institution will step out, accompanied by a wide selection of music, including flute, pipe, accordion and brass bands.
The main procession will leave the assembly field on the Gilford Road at 11.15am and proceed through the village to the Demesne.
Earlier in the day, members of Scarva Royal Black Preceptory will lay a wreath at the village memorial to local members of the security forces who were murdered during the Troubles.
The Sham Fight will take place at 1.30pm, prior to the religious service, which is scheduled to commence at 2pm.
Platform proceedings will be chaired by David Livingstone, County Armagh Grand Master and Imperial Grand Treasurer. The service of worship and Act of Remembrance will be led by Rev Maurice Laverty, and the preacher will be Rev Edwin Frazer. The scriptures will be read by David Boyce, chaplain of RBP 1000.
Billy Scott, Imperial Grand Registrar, will read the resolutions and they will be proposed by Rev William Anderson, Sovereign Grand Master.
The praise will be led by Roughan Silver Band.
Renowned mezzo-soprano, Emma Brown, will also perform during the platform proceedings.
The return parade is scheduled to leave the Demesne at 3pm.
The Royal Black Institution, in its Mission Statement, boldly declares, that we exist “to study the Holy Scripture in order to understand the Christian Faith and its relevance for today’s society”. We therefore call upon our members to read the Bible on a regular basis and apply its message to our daily lives for as John Chapter 20 vs. 31 states “these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name”.
As Royal Black Knights, we hereby reaffirm our loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Given the ever-changing world in which we live today, we are thankful that Her Majesty continues to encourage all her citizens to rebuild their lives within the teachings of the Christian Faith. Her example and clear sense of duty have stood the test of time and have been the bedrock of our Commonwealth and Nation in the past, and we pray for many years to come.
We call all upon Her Majesty’s Government, members of the Houses of Parliament and all local Assembly members to set about the task of re-building our nation and peoples into one single United Kingdom, thereby making our Nation “truly united” once again. We call upon our local politicians to re-build trust and stability by focusing our people on the benefits of being in a strong United Kingdom.
Lurgan District parade in Bangor
Also, on July 13, Lurgan District No. 2 will take part in their annual parade in Bangor.
The traditional procession will include 15 preceptories and eight bands. The main parade will proceed from Castle Park Avenue at 11.45am, making its way through the seaside town along Dufferin Avenue, Gray’s Hill, Queen’s Parade, Quay Street, Main Street and Hamilton Road.
The return parade is due to commence at 4.15pm, before Sir Knights travel back to Lurgan.