Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Did Kesh beat the world Orange Banner record?
With the Twelfth bearing down on us like a neutered pit-bull high on ecstasy, it's good to know the Orange Order has retained its sense of humour. Even though it was expected to disrupt traffic, hundreds of Orangemen were to assemble in a field somewhere near Kesh, Co Fermanagh, in an attempt to beat the world record for assemblage of Orange banners in one spot. This attempt was being organised by Pettigo Loyal Orange Lodge and more than 300 banners were expected to gather in the field. Problem was, people who would normally park their cars in fields (doesn't everyone?) would be forced, due to the recent wet weather, to park at the roadside, which risked creating traffic bottle-necks.
I've been on edge to find out the results of this world record attempt, not just because if cars risk getting stuck in soggy fields, so too do the Orangemen gathered with their banners, but because Pettigo is the town near which my mother grew up. Ah me, the heart-warming stories she used tell me at bed-time of Catholics and Protestants standing shoulder to shoulder, hand-in-hand, cheering the bands on the Twelfth! Mind, this was decades before Sinn Féin entered the picture and manipulated residents' groups so that, instead of continuing to stand hands clasped with their unionist neighbours, they started to claim that Lambeg drums and anti-Catholic speeches and half-pissed Orangemen were something they found in some vague way offensive.
But look, I'm getting misty-eyed. Those were back in the days when everyone got along, when people shopped, traded, went to each other's religious services with never a thought of who was Orange and who was Green, when Catholics looked forward as much to the fun of the Twelfth as did their Protestant neighbours. Only then the IRA started the Troubles and ruined things for all of us.
Anyway, to get back to Kesh, if you know that the banner-bearers were successful in their world record tilt and didn't get that sinking feeling their cars might have experienced, let me know. And if you know they failed in their attempt, let me know as well. If there's one thing you can be sure of every Twelfth, there'll be something that'll give you a good belly-laugh.