On Saturday 4th of April the Terence MacSwiney 1916 Society Craigavon hosted their inaugural annual Easter Parade and Commemoration on the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. Assembling at 5pm by the Carpet Mill, the Wolfetone Republican Flute Band, Scotland, lead the parade as crowds lined the street, ably stewarded by local Cumann members and volunteers, assisted by the Gifford-Plunkett Society Armagh.
Five bands participated in the day’s events, the Wolfetones Scotland, as mentioned; the Parkhead and the Erin Go Bragh Republican Flute Bands, also from Scotland; the Banna Fluit Naoimh Phadraig from Kilkeel; and of course the local Volunteer Julie Dougan Republican Flute Band, who were making their first appearance and received a huge welcome from their local community as they stepped out onto the Garvaghey Road.
Making their way to St. John’s Church and Cemetery, with flags flying high and proud, those gathered entered the graveyard behind a single drumbeat. Inside, the main commemoration soon got under way, with the 1916 Proclamation and North Armagh Roll of Honour read aloud, followed by a lament, a minutes silence in honour of our patriot dead, and a second lament as our national flag was lowered to half mast.
Guest speaker Dee Fennell was then introduced to the crowd, receiving a fantastic reception.
He spoke of the wide range of people committed to the establishment of a new Irish Republic and the existence of two failed political entities in Ireland, North and South – with austerity and water charges in one and with Sinn Fein assisting in the British occupation of the Six Counties in the other.
He also highlighted the ongoing issue of internment and the brutality inflicted on Irishmen and women in the gaols across our land, calling for everyone to support the POWs. He spoke of how the Garvaghy Road had long been an inspiration to the broad nationalist and republican community in its ongoing struggle against the Orange and British state, and stressed freedom was at hand.
The Parkhead RFB concluded the graveside commemoration with a rendition of Amhrann na bhFiann before the parade proceeded into Obins Street (the Tunnel), with crowds once again lining the streets in huge numbers to cheer on the marchers. By the time the dispersal point at Brankin’s Pub had been reached the swollen ranks of supporters had to be kept of the road to allow the bands to reach their endpoint.
It was incredible to see, the huge roars of approval instilling a deep sense of patriotic pride in all concerned. That the biggest cheer and a standing ovation was reserved for the Volunteer Julie Dougan RFB was especially apt and one of the highlights of the day.
To round of proceedings, on what was a memorable occasion for the Terence MacSwiney Society, and all others involved, the Wolfetone RFB sounded out Amhrann na bhFiann before tea and refreshments were served in Brankin’s. We take this opportunity to once again thank the bands, the speakers, the Colour Party, Emma Hamill and Brankins Bar, all who assisted in any way, but most especially the local community for their tremendous support.
Go raibh mile mhaith agaibh
The Committee – Terence MacSwiney 1916 Society Craigavon