Local band celebrates 50 years

Craigavon Protestant Boys stepping out in style. INLM29-943GT
Craigavon Protestant Boys stepping out in style. INLM29-943GT

Craigavon Protestant Boys Flute Band this year celebrate their 50th year on the road and are hosting their annual parade in the town on Saturday.

Since the band’s formation ‘the Craigs’ have led the way on the Blood and Thunder Flute Band scene, Craigavon were one of the very first Blood and Thunder style bands from outside of Belfast and certainly one of the first in the County Armagh area.

Craigavon Protestant Boys Flute Band is named after, and in memory of, Lord Craigavon the leader of the Unionist Party in the early part of the 20th Century and the very first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Craigavon as a band are very proud of their culture and heritage and this is shown with the carrying of the battle honours of the 36th Ulster Division, the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, and 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (YCV) with which many Lurgan men signed up at the outset of WW1, including VC winner Private William McFadzean who was born in Lurgan.

On July 1, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme near Thiepval Wood, France, a box of hand grenades slipped into a crowded trench. Two of the safety pins in the grenades were dislodged. McFadzean threw himself on top of the grenades, which exploded, killing him but only injuring one other.

The band is very much community based although through the years they have have had members from far and wide including Lisburn, Cookstown and as far away as Scotland to name a few.

Band members take great pride in the band and the community from which the band derives, each year over July the band members organise and participate in community events on bonfire day/night in Mourneview to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable cultural day.

Craigavon Protestant Boys are out most weekends quite often attending two or three parades on a weekend during the marching season taking part in competitions the length and breadth of the country. This will be reflected on Saturday night when the band host their annual competition in the town on their 50th Anniversary year with upwards of 50 bands expected to be in attendance.

Craigavon Protestant Boys, will parade the town first at 7pm, stopping at the war memorial to lay a wreath on the 100th Anniversary year of the Battle of the Somme in memory of all those who lost their lives in defence of freedom.

The main competition begins at 8pm with bands starting at Johnstons Row, before making their way up to Queen Street, turning at the junction at Flush Place before making their way back around the town.

The main parade will be led by Broxburn Loyalists who are no strangers to the Lurgan area with the Glasgow Grenadiers also making their way over from Scotland for the event.