Unfurling of Toye Banner For LOL 1077 In Killyleagh

On Saturday 20 June 205, Toye LOL 1077 unfurled a new bannerette in a special ceremony in front of Killyleagh Castle in the square.

Jim Shannon MP speaking at the unfurling of the Killyleagh Toye Orange Lodge bannerette which was unfurled by Michelle McIlveen MLA said: “I congratulate you on this new banner which is ever so poignant for this year and next. The bannerette portrays the Battle of the Somme on one side and the Battle of the Boyne on the other side.

[caption id="attachment_57219" align="alignleft" width="390"]At the unfurling of the bannerette were Worshipfull Master Brother Nigel Bloomer (Lecale District No2), Worshipful Master Adam Sloan, Sister MIchelle McIlveen MLA,  Jim Shannon MP, with Brother William Walker, At the unfurling of the bannerette were Worshipfull Master Brother Nigel Bloomer (Lecale District No2), LOL 1077 member Adam Osborne, Sister Michelle McIlveen MLA (from Saintfield), Jim Shannon MP, with Brother William Walker, Deputy Master of Lecale District No2.[/caption]

“To remember the Somme is something which is timeless and I know the rich history that this area of Killyleagh has in service with Killyleagh and Shrigley had 242 men from the area who served in the Great War and the 51 who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“It must always be remembered that we had no conscription in what was then Ireland and therefore every single one of these men had signed up out of duty and loyalty to their King and their Country. That makes the fact that so many had volunteered even more touching.

“The Somme is a battle that lives on in the annals of history for many reasons… the horrific loss of life and the ultimate victory which most historians have laid at the feet of those Ulster men, and there is little that makes prouder than to read the accounts of those battles and to know that it was my kinsmen and your kinsmen that made the difference there.

“Perhaps one of my favourite quotes is found in the writings of Captain Wilfred Spender after the battle of the Somme. He wrote: “I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the 1st July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world.

[caption id="attachment_57220" align="aligncenter" width="540"]Memebrs of District 2 LOL 1077 with guests Jim Shannon MP, Lecale District 2 Chairman Bro. Nigel Bloomer, Michelle McIlcveen MLA, Bro, William Murphy, District Chapain. and Worshipful Master Adam Osborne. Memebrs of District 2 LOL 1077 with guests Jim Shannon MP, Lecale District 2 Chairman Bro. Nigel Bloomer, Michelle McIlveen MLA, Bro, and William Murphy, District Chaplain.[/caption]

During the Battle of the Somme the Ulster Division was the only division of Corps to have achieved its objectives on the opening day of the battle. This came at a heavy price, with the division suffering in two days of fighting 5,500 officers and enlisted men killed, wounded or missing.

“War correspondent Philip Gibbs said of the Division, “Their attack was one of the finest displays of human courage in the world.

“Of nine Victoria Crosses given to British forces in the battle, four were awarded to 36th Ulster Division soldiers. The First Day of the Somme was the anniversary (Julian Calendar) of the Battle of the Boyne, a fact remarked on by the leaders of the Division. Stories that some men went over the top wearing orange sashes are, however, sometimes thought to be myths.

“There was many who went over the top at the Somme who were Ulstermen, at least one, Sergeant Samuel Kelly of 9th Inniskillings wearing his Ulster Sash, while others wore orange ribbons”.

[caption id="attachment_57223" align="alignleft" width="270"]Toye 1077 member Adam Osborne with Sister MIchelle McIlveen MLA who has just unfurled the bannerette. Toye 1077 member Adam Osborne with Sister MIchelle McIlveen MLA who has just unfurled the bannerette.[/caption]

When some of his men wavered, one Company commander from West Belfast, Maj. George Gaffikin, took off his Orange Sash, held it high for his men to see above the noise of the battles, the smoke and the bullets and roared the traditional war-cry of the battle of the Boyne; “Come on, boys! No surrender!” How apt that as we come to our remembrance of the battle of the Boyne this lodge will be waving the banner of those who so bravely waved their Orange Sashes to spur on the men.

“King George V noted: ‘I recall the deeds of the 36th (Ulster) Division, which have more than fulfilled the high opinion formed by me on inspecting that force on the eve of its departure for the front. Throughout the long years of struggle, which now so gloriously ended, the men of Ulster have proved how nobly they fight and die.’

“I will end with the last sentence of Captain Spenders account: ‘The Ulster Division has lost more than half the men who attacked and, in doing so, has sacrificed itself for the Empire which has treated them none too well. Their devotion, which no doubt has helped the advance elsewhere, deserved the gratitude of the British Empire. It is due to the memory of these brave fellows that their beloved Province shall be fairly treated.

‘Sometimes we may well feel that we are not fairly treated and indeed sometimes we are not – but the dignity and bravery of our brethren is what we need to demonstrate as we approach this Marching Season and as remember our culture and heritage and the very essence of who we are which is displayed in this banner! We must continue to pull together as unionists no matter what our exact political profile is and work as one for the benefit of our wee country’.

“Well done to all those involved and I know that this banner will proudly wave this year and in the years to come.”

The dedication of the unfurling of the bannerette was conducted by Brother William Murphy, District Chaplain who also said the benediction at the end of the ceremony.

Bro. William Walker, a Deputy Master in Lecale District 2, who has been a member of the lodge (LOL 1077)  for 36 years, said: “This is a proud day for our lodge in Killyleagh. I was actually at the last unfurling of a banner 43 years ago when my uncle carried it and I held the strings. This old banner is now retired.

“At the moment we have 19 members in our lodge and we welcome new members. Back in the 70’s, the membership was up to 53.”

“We will be having our first outing with the new bannerette on Thursday evening to commemorate the Battle of the Somme. The bannerette has details of the Somme on one side and King William at the Boyne on the other.

“I would like to thank all of our guests and speakers, and also the Toye Flute Band for their efforts and support on the day.

“We marched round the town of Killyleagh down to the Harbour, up to The Grove and back to the Orange Hall.”