Twelfth of July 1934: Portadown
“The night before and the Twelfth in Portadown is always one to be remembered for weeks afterwards and this year’s Twelfth was no exception”.
On the 1st July, Edenderry had held its usual Bonfire which always gathered a large crowd. On the Eleventh night there was the main large bonfires at Edgarstown and Parkmount. The community had spent weeks building them and they were the main attraction of the night.
Earlier in the evening, the local streets lit their bonfires in celebration before making their way to the bigger ones. The local street bonfires were the highlight of the year for many of the local children. They spent days before going out and gathering the old tree stumps and branches and the adults made sure the turf was there to help with the building efforts.
In 1934, there was street bonfires recorded at Mandeville Square, Alexandra Gardens, Fowlers Entry, North Street, David Street, Jervis Street, Mary Street, Wilson Street, Hanover Street, Ormonde Street, Mourneview Street, Meadow Lane and Clounagh. There were many more, but the streets have not been recorded.
“Around the Edgarstown Bonfire the older generation reminisced about the barrel beacons that used to be set alight at Lisavague Hill and Whitesides Hill about thirty years ago before the Labourer’s Cottages were built. You could see them for miles and miles around, they were the signal to start the celebrations”.
Some Country Lodges worked hard on Arches for the big day with the ‘young Stothers brothers who constructed an arch for Kilmore’. The Arch at Mullantine was also described as an ‘attractive one’.
Some Country Lodges; Drummnahuncheon, Ballyworkan and Brackagh paraded to Carleton Street that morning via South Street to “salute the beautiful arch, which was unveiled a year ago”. Craigwell Avenue also had ‘a splendid arch and was very well dressed with bunting’.
The Procession to the railway station on the Twelfth morning was the biggest on record. The Celebrations were held in Armagh.
“The scene in Carleton Street, where thirty banners and bannerettes and thirty Lodges, with a number of bands, was one that was at once striking and colourful”.
Under the guidance of Brothers James Dermott, County Grand Secretary and District Secretary, and District Assistant Secretary D Best, the procession was “marshalled to time and the procession down the street was watched by thousands of townspeople and others, who lined each side of the street from Carleton Street to the station”.
Brother James Dermott (County Grand Secretary and District Secretary) dressed as King William “wore his striking rosette in his hat, had his sword at his side, and wearing his spurs, was astride his horse, attended by his two aide-de-camps”. Sadly, this would be Brother Dermott’s last twelfth as he died suddenly in the November of 1934.
The other officers leading included; Worshipful District Master Major David Graham Shillington, Brother David Rock District Assistant Secretary, Brother Doctor George Dougan District Treasurer and Deputy District Master Brother David Moore.
On the way to Armagh
The procession was headed by St Mark’s Old Boys Band. Other bands present included; Thomas Street Old Boys Silver Band, Conn’s Hill Melodeon Band, Portadown and Battlehill Pipe Bands, Colonel Saunderson Memorial Band, Portadown Christian Accordion Band and Seagoe Church Lads Brigade Pipe Band.
The procession stopped at the War Memorial, where District Master David Graham Shillington, on behalf of the District Lodges, laid a wreath in remembrance. David Graham Shillington had lost his nephew, Geoffrey Shillington Cather VC and his son, Tom Shillington in the Great War.
The procession ‘formed up’ in Armagh and made the two-mile walk to the field situated on the Tandragee Road. The procession gathered at the platform for the service which was led by County Grand Master Sir William Allen.
They made their way back to the station. Once in Portadown, the parade returned to Carleton Street, before the Lodges dispersed for their evening dinners.
Remembering Brother James Dermott
The 1934 Twelfth was sadly the last for popular County and District Secretary Brother James Dermott. He died suddenly four months later in November 1934.
“Orangeism in County Armagh and particularly Portadown, has suffered an irreplaceable loss by the sudden passing of Brother James Dermott, at his residence, Tea Tree Cottage, Brackagh”.
He was a member of Rehab’s True Blues LOL 89 for around twenty-five years, where he also held the office of Secretary. In 1925, on the death of the late WDM Brother W H Wright, he was elected County Grand Treasurer and later County Grand Secretary in 1929. He was also Portadown District Secretary from 1925. James Dermott was also a proud Sir Knight and held the office of Treasurer in the County Grand Royal Black and Registrar of the Portadown Royal Black District Chapter. His private preceptory was Allen’s Chosen Few RBP 25.
In addition, he was a member of the Carleton Street Orange Hall Committee, also a member of the Ulster Unionists Council of the Central Armagh Unionists Association and of the Executive Committee of the Orange and Protestant approved Insurance Society.
James was also a devoted member of the Church of Ireland. He had been secretary of the select vestry of Mullavilly Parish for twelve years.
James worked for seven years in Parkside Factory, Portadown and in 1913 he moved to Tavanagh Weaving Co LTD.
Brother James Dermott led the Twelfth parade every year dressed as a representation of King William on his horse. He is remembered to this day within the history of Portadown Orangeism and his picture hangs in the Heritage Centre of Carleton Street Orange Hall. He is buried in Mullavilly Churchyard.
“A man of many esteemed qualities, by his high ideals and quiet unassuming nature, he attracted and held the esteem of a wide circle of friends. His various duties in connection with the offices he held were performed with tact, business capacity and resourcefulness, and his advice was always constructive”.