For Jean Doucette – The Twelfth – Battle of the Boyne

Loyal Orange Lodge number 6 parades on Jean's favourite day which is sadly now only a statutory holiday in Newfoundland.

Loyal Orange Lodge number 6 parades on Jean’s favourite day which is sadly now only a statutory holiday in Newfoundland.

The Twelfth (also called the Glorious Twelfth or Orangemen’s Day) is an Ulster Protestant celebration held on 12 July. It was first held in the late 18th century in Ulster. It celebrates the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland.

On and around the Twelfth, large parades are held by the Orange Order and Ulster loyalist marching bands, streets are bedecked with British flags and bunting, and large towering bonfires are lit. Today the Twelfth is mainly celebrated in Ulster (especially in Northern Ireland, where it is a public holiday), but smaller celebrations are held in other parts of the world where Orange lodges have been set up. The Twelfth involves thousands of participants and spectators.

In Ulster, where about half the population is from a Protestant background and half from a Catholic background, the Twelfth has been accompanied by violence since its beginning. Many see the Orange Order and its marches as sectarian, triumphalist and supremacist. The Order is also politically a unionist/loyalist organisation. Violence related to the Twelfth in Northern Ireland worsened during the 30-year ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles. The Drumcree conflict is the most well-known dispute involving Orange marches.

Entry to the town of Annalong

Entry to the town of Annalong

Orangemen commemorated several events dating from the 17th century onwards, celebrating the continued dominance of Protestantism in Ireland after the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and triumph in the Williamite War in Ireland (1689–91). Early celebrations were 23 October (my brother’s birthday), the anniversary of the 1641 rebellion (an attempted coup d’état by Catholic gentry who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland); and 4 November, the birthday of William of Orange, Protestant victor of the Williamite war in the 1690s. Both of these anniversaries faded in popularity by the end of the 18th century.

The Twelfth itself originated as a celebration of the Battle of Aughrim, which took place on 12 July 1691 in the ‘Old Style’ (O.S.) Julian calendar then in use. Aughrim was the decisive battle of the Williamite war, in which the predominantly Irish Catholic Jacobite army was destroyed and the remainder capitulated at Limerick, whereas the Boyne was less decisive. The Twelfth in the early 18th century was a popular commemoration of Aughrim, featuring bonfires and parades. The Battle of the Boyne (fought on 1 July 1690) was commemorated with smaller parades on 1 July. However, the two events were combined in the late 18th century. The first reason for this was the British switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, which repositioned the nominal date of the Battle of the Boyne to 11 July New Style (N.S.) (with the Battle of Aughrim nominally repositioned to 23 July N.S.). The second reason was the foundation of the Orange Order in 1795. The Order preferred the Boyne, due to William of Orange’s presence there. It has also been suggested that in the 1790s (a time of Roman Catholic resurgence) the Boyne, where the Jacobites were routed, was more appealing to the Order than Aughrim, where they had fought hard and died in great numbers.

The Order’s first marches took place on 12 July 1796 in PortadownLurgan and Waringstown.

American might recognise this symbol. Quite popular amongst Protestants and Free Masons

American might recognise this symbol. Quite popular amongst Protestants and Free Masons

Although mostly an Ulster event, the Twelfth is also celebrated in other countries with strong links to Ulster or a history of settlement by Irish Protestants. Outside of Northern Ireland, there are commemorations of The Twelfth in Scotland – particularly in and around Glasgow, where most Irish immigrants settled. In England and Wales, Orange marches aren’t common and Orange Order membership is found primarily in the Merseyside region, although numbers are still small. Marches here tend to be held a week or so before the Twelfth, due to the number of bands and lodges who travel to Northern Ireland to march there. The Liverpool lodges parade both in the city and in the seaside resort of Southport on 12 July.

There are also Twelfth marches in Canada and Australia. As the longest consecutively held parade in North America (first held in 1821), the Twelfth March was the largest parade in Toronto when thousands of Orangemen would march in front of tens of thousands of spectators, until the 1970s. At the time, the Orange Order held such sway that membership in the Order was an unspoken prerequisite for holding civic office. However, the march’s popularity has drastically diminished in recent years, as only about 500 people participate in modern Orange parades. Orangemen’s Day is still a significant holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where it is an official provincial paid holiday.

An increase in membership in recent years has seen a revival of the Order in Australia and an annual Twelfth of July parade is currently held in Adelaide. Parades were also formerly held in New Zealand on the Twelfth.

Until the Partition of Ireland in the early 1920s, the Twelfth was celebrated by Protestants in many parts of Ireland. However, the reduction of Protestant political influence in what is now the Republic of Ireland has meant the only remaining major annual parade within the Republic is at RossnowlaghCounty Donegal, in the west of Ulster, which was held on the Twelfth until the 1970s, when it was moved to the weekend before.[47] In the rest of Ireland, outside of the nine-county Province of Ulster, there are no major Orange events.

In July 2010, former Tánaiste Michael McDowell said that the Twelfth should be made a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Northern Ireland.

King Billy. Namesake of many of my relatives.

King Billy. Namesake of many of my relatives.

The Battle of the Boyne (IrishCath na Bóinne IPA: [ˈkah n̪ˠə ˈbˠoːn̪ʲə]) was a battle in 1690 between the forces of the deposed King James II of England and Ireland, VII of Scotland, versus those of King William III who, with his wife Queen Mary II (his cousin and James’s daughter), had acceded to the Crowns of England and Scotland in 1689. The battle took place across the River Boyne close to the town of Drogheda in the Kingdom of Ireland, modern-day Republic of Ireland, and resulted in a victory for William. This turned the tide in James’s failed attempt to regain the British crown and ultimately aided in ensuring the continued Protestant ascendancy in Ireland.

The battle took place on 1 July 1690 O.S. William’s forces defeated James’s army, which consisted mostly of raw recruits. Although the Williamite War in Ireland continued until October 1691James fled to France after the Boyne, never to return. The symbolic importance of this battle has made it one of the best-known battles in the history of the British Isles and a key part of the folklore of the Orange Order. Its commemoration today is principally by the Orange Order, which records the first commemorative parades as having been held in 1791

The Battle of Aughrim (IrishCath Eachroma) was the decisive battle of the Williamite War in Ireland. It was fought between the largely Irish Jacobite army loyal to James II and the forces of William III on 12 July 1691 (old style, equivalent to 22 July new style), near the village of Aughrim, County Galway.

The battle was the bloodiest ever fought on Irish soil; over 7,000 people were killed. The Jacobite defeat at Aughrim meant the effective end of James’s cause in Ireland, although the city of Limerick held out until the autumn of 1691.