Orangeman’s Day is observed in Ireland on 12 July each year and is also known as the “Battle of Boyne”.
Protestant Irish march
with drums and pipes.
In 1690, William III of England defeated the exiled Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne. James, who had been in France, had invaded Ireland with French troops.
Orangeman’s Day Celebrations
and Traditions in the United Kingdom
Orangeman’s Day in the UK is a major holiday in some particular parts. For instance, Orangeman’s Day is a very popular in Northern Ireland where it is observed as a banking holiday. This is due to the fact that the events which started this special day occurred in Northern Ireland in the year AD 1690. Those in Northern Ireland celebrate the day, but those in Birmingham and Liverpool also celebrate the day. This is due to the fact that in these cities, there are large Irish populations which also celebrate very large Saint Patrick’s Day parties. The holiday of Orangeman’s Day corresponds with the events surrounding one particular event in 1690 when the French army led by King James II was defeated by King William III of England. To commemorate the day, people in modern times wear sashes which are coloured orange.
In many parts of the United Kingdom, Orangeman’s Day is actually referred to as The Twelfth which is a reference to the date of 12 July. The events which lead up to the date of the 12th include many social gatherings and other such activities. On the night of the 11th, communities get together for a series of bonfires. These bonfires are seen as being very friendly in nature, and it is typically a time for families and friends to reflect on events that year. During the daytime in this follow up period, groups of people who are geographically close to each other get together and march around with a band. The band plays traditional songs, such as battle hymns and Irish folk music.
There are some official events which have been sanctioned by the government as being events which are to be celebrated every year for The Twelfth. Usually, parades are chosen as the main way to have a party, and in Northern Ireland, each lodge of the district will organise a separate parade. However, in parts of the country which are more rural, the community will typically decide what to do on that day. Lodges will typically go around together for the Orangeman’s Day marches. In addition, church services are held by Protestant churches in the region. Musicians play throughout the whole day with prizes being given to those who are judged with the highest scores.
Some of the marches have specific themes as well. One of the instruments which are closely associated with the Order marches is the Lambeg drum. Some of the more popular songs which are played during this day include tunes written about the subject matter of The Twelfth. Songs such as Derry’s Walls talk about elements of the battle upon which the special day is based. Another favourite tune is The Sash, a song also referring to the fact that those who celebrate the holiday usually don a sash coloured orange.
While the holiday is called Orangeman’s Day, there are some women who also march on this day. Known as Orangewomen, these females also wear the traditional black suits and dresses and orange sashes. There was a time when these women were banned from joining the festivities in Belfast until the middle of the 1990s.