July 08, 2015

The inglorious Twelfth

John Hewitt, Ulster poet, at a 12th July march
Seamus Heaney wrote a poem, 'Orange Drums, Tyrone, 1966', about his experience of the Twelfth July:
'The lambeg balloons at his belly, weighs
Him back on his haunches, lodging thunder
Grossly there between his chin and his knees.
He is raised up by what he buckles under.
Each arm extended by a seasoned rod,
He parades behind it. And though the drummers
Are granted passage through the nodding crowd
It is the drums preside, like giant tumours.
To every cocked ear, expert in its greed,
His battered signature subscribes ‘No Pope’.
The pigskin’s scourged until his knuckles bleed.
The air is pounding like a stethoscope.'
Louis MacNeice whose father was in the Orange Order described the 12th in ‘Autumn Journal’:
'Drums on the haycock, drums on the harvest, black
Drums in the night shaking the windows:
King William is riding his white horse back
To the Boyne on a banner.
Thousands of banners, thousands of white
Horses, thousands of Williams
Waving thousands of swords and ready to fight
Till the blue sea turns to orange.'
The Spectator described the 12th July of 1914, like this:
"The 12th of July celebrations in Ulster were held on Monday, as the 12th this year fell on Sunday. There was enormous enthusiasm, but no disturbance of the peace. The chief demon- stration was at Drumbeg, whither about seventy thousand mem- bers of the Belfast Orange Lodges marched in procession. The Times special correspondent says that shouting and singing in the streets of Belfast began when midnight had struck on Sunday. Bonfires were lit in the streets, but everywhere there was good humour. On Monday morning the men who marched to Drumbeg went as ordinary citizens, and not under arms. Sir Edward Carson drove at their head. Par- ticularly noticeable were the drummers, whose type seems to be peculiar to Ulster. ” The sound of the drums,“ says the correspondent, ” dwarfed and drowned everything else. The drummers drummed so vigorously with the loaded canes which they used instead of ordinary drumsticks that in many eases the sheepskin of the drumheads was stained with blood from their bruised hands.“ Hundreds of blank cartridges were fired from revolvers on the meeting-ground at Drumbeg. The note of Sir Edward Carson’s speech was defiance to the Government. Unless Ulster were left alone, the Ulster Unionists would soon recognize the Provisional Government and no other. ” Give us a clean cut,“ he said to the Govern- ment, ” or come and fight us."
James Connolly visited the 12th July in 1913 and wrote:
"As this Saturday is the 12th of July, and as I am supposed to be writing about the North of Ireland in particular, it becomes imperative that I say something about this great and glorious festival. 
The Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne is celebrated in Belfast by what is locally known as an Orange Walk. The brethren turn out and take possession of the principal streets of the city, and for the space of some hours they pass in processional order before the eyes of the citizens, bearing their banners, wearing their regalia, carrying symbols emblematic of the gates of Derry, and to the accompaniment of a great many bands. 
Viewing the procession as a mere ‘Teague’ (to use the name the brethren bestow on all of Catholic origin), I must confess that some parts of it are beautiful, some of it ludicrous, and some of it exceedingly disheartening. 
The regalia is often beautiful; I have seen representations of the Gates of Derry that were really a pleasure to view as pieces of workmanship; and similar representations erected as Orange arches across dingy side streets that, if we could forget their symbolism, we would admire as real works of art. 
The music (?) is a fearful and wonderful production, seemingly being based upon a desire to produce the maximum of sound in the minimum of space. Every Orange Lodge in the North of Ireland, and many from the South make it a point to walk, and as each Lodge desires to have a band without any regard to its numbers, the bands are often so near that even the most skilful manipulator cannot prevent a blending of sounds that can scarcely be called harmonious. 
I have stood on the sidewalk listening to a band, whose instruments were rendering:
Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to thy bosom fly.
Whilst another one about twenty yards off was splitting the air with:
Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to thy bosom fly. Dolly’s Brae, O Dolly’s Brae,
O, Dolly’s Brae no more;
The song we sang was kick the Pope
Right over Dolly’s Brae. 
But the discord of sound allied to the discord of sentiment implied in a longing to fly to the bosom of Jesus, and at the same time to kick the Pope, did not appear to strike anyone but myself. 
For that matter a sense of humour is not one of the strong points in an Orangeman’s nature.The dead walls of Belfast are decorated with a mixture of imprecations upon Fenians, and, the Pope, and invocations of the power and goodness of the Most High, interlarded with quotations from the New Testament. This produces some of the most incongruous results. What would the readers of Forward say to seeing written up on the side of a wall off one of the main streets, the attractive legend: 
God is Love, Hell Roast the Pope. 
Of course, the juxtaposition of such inscriptions on the walls appears absurd, and yet, the juxtaposition of sentiments as dissimilar is common enough in the minds of all of us, I suppose. 
To anyone really conversant with the facts bearing upon the relations of the religious in Ireland, and the part played by them in advancing or retarding the principles of civil and religious liberty, the whole celebration appears to be foolish enough. 
The belief sedulously cultivated by all the orators, lay and clerical, as well as by all the newspapers is, that the Defence of Derry and the Battle of the Boyne were great vindications of the principles of civil and religious liberty, which were menaced by the Catholics, and defended by the Protestants of all sects."
Glenn Patterson wrote in an article, ‘Twelfthish’:
"My own attitude to the Twelfth has gone from adolescent enthusiasm, through twenty years of absolute hostility, to my present something-like indifference. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees me many things, but the right never to see and hear things I disagree with is not among them."
William Mawhinny, development officer for Orangefest, said:
"We want to be inclusive but people have to understand that you can’t be a member of the Orange Order unless you are a member of the Protestant Reformed Church."
In 1962 Ian Paisley left the Orange Order in protest to a member attending a funeral mass.

Jason Alan Murdock wrote that "The 12th July is a surreal mix of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Glastonbury”. He also wrote:
"It is hard not to mention the sheer amount of weird on show. The crowd seemed to consist solely of beer bottles. Some of these bottles had humans attached to them. Others lay smashed on the pavement… Orangefest is, at least in the inner city, not a place for kids. It is not a place for trade, nor a place for tourists."
Michael Longley wrote about "Orange wank", which of course goes with "Green wank". Belfast Barman (Kris Nixon) wrote, “This isn’t culture. This is a riot.” Cheryl said:
"It has turned into a drinking session now. They have a drink in the morning, a drink after the parade, and then they drink all night. I wouldn’t go near them."
Alex Kane described it as "noisy, boozy and sectarian." Colin Bateman proposed a play about Two Williams, the original King Billy and a “washed-up drunk”. Colin Bateman wrote in 2006:
"I’ve come up with a story called The Two Williams, which features King Billy (that’s King William to you) on the eve of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 accidentally changing places with his modern equivalent — a washed-up drunk whose only job in life is to lead the Orange parade every 12th of July."
Liam Clarke wrote in The Sunday Times of July 9 2006:
"While they may not be “washed-up drunks”, a contrast between King William of Orange and the modern Orange leadership would indeed provide a moral tale for our times and might even provoke a fundamental rethink of the order’s history. 
William’s victory at the Boyne ushered in the British enlightenment and struck a blow against absolutism throughout Europe. It was welcomed by the Pope with a te deum in Rome and set Britain and Ireland on the road to constitutional monarchy, where the power of kings would be circumscribed legally within narrowly defined limits."
Conor Cruise O’Brien visited an Orange rally in Northern Ireland and got a beating, as he described in 'States of Ireland:
"The young man who had bumped against me asked why I didn’t clap. I said I didn’t clap because I didn’t agree with a lot the speaker had said (by this time I had a fair idea I was going to get a beating and on the whole preferred being beaten without having clapped to clapping and then getting beaten as well) … they wanted ‘to get O'Brien’. They hit me several times and I fell down, and then they started kicking me. An apprentice boy said: "Is it murder ye’ wan’t?’ After a short while they stopped kicking and went away."
Brian Kennaway, a minister and member of the Orange Order suggested a solution:
"Parading organisations must take responsibility for the parades which they notify, and ensure the good behaviour of all those who participate. It is behaviour in the public square which must be addressed. It is long past the time to stop playing the game of “whataboutery” and accept responsibility when things go wrong. If no offence is given no offence will be taken."
Here I contrasted Rossnowlagh with Drumcree Orangeism. Here Barton Creeth made a contrast between the rural and urban parades. Father Martin Magill wrote:
"Having reflected on the parades and the Twelfth that I saw, my main observation is that it wasn’t truly Protestant enough for me."
Lyra McKee said that the 17th is as licentious as at 12th, a Catholic version of the Boyne commemoration. Irish politician Michael McDowell, a former tanaiste, suggested in 2010 that the Twelfth might become a public holiday in the Republic. He said:
"Could an Irish government minister in the near future attend a Twelfth demonstration in Northern Ireland in the same way they now attend St Patrick’s day parades around the world?"
And added:
"It has been famously conceded that Northern Ireland was a cold place for Catholics. But that raises a question: Are we in the south warm towards the Orange tradition? Do we respect it? Have we created a society, a history and a culture in which the Orange tradition, so understood, finds itself in a cold place?”
He said:
"The great majority of the people of the Republic still have difficulty in according genuine parity of esteem to the Orange tradition in Irish history’ but they needed a ‘great change of heart."
Mary McAleese said in 2008 that "It is possible to be both Irish and British, possible to be both Orange and Irish." McAleese said in 2015 that "the culture of the Orange is not my culture but it is the culture of my neighbours... and good neighbours should know and respect each other." 

Grand Master Edward Stevenson said that the Orange Institution in the Republic continues to thrive. Chris Thackaberry is a working class Dublin protestant and one of 62 members of the Dublin and Wicklow Loyal Orange Lodge 1313, located on Northumberland Road in Dublin 4. He said about parading in Dublin:
"In Dublin you have Africa Day, you have Chinese New Year in Smithfield and you have a gay pride parade. Now there could be arguments against the Orange Order because of the sectarianism but we are citizens of the state and I think it’s time that we had our parade like any other citizen of the state in Dublin."
He continued on this point and said:
"I reckon it could happen in the next few years. I could see a change where the 10,000 odd Orangemen that live in the Republic and who are citizens of the Republic will look to have their parade in Dublin and I certainly will be pushing for that."
Martin McGuinness said:
"The orange part of the flag is as important as the green and I think we are very proud to be part of that generation of Irish republicans that is prepared to appreciate that, is prepared to accept that as we face into difficult challenges."
Gerry Adams said at his party’s 2015 Ard Fheis in Derry:
"The people of this island, whether urban or rural, from whatever background or tradition, share a common history and our futures are bound together. We need reminded again and again that our flag is Orange. Orange as well as green. Orange is part of what we are. That is our potential. And our challenge. To unite Orange and Green in equality and mutual respect."
W.B. Yeats said:
"I think we should accept the whole past of this nation, and not pick and choose."

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