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Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Glenavy Accordion Band marks five decades

Members of Glenavy Accordion Band with Lisburn's Mayor Councillor James Tinsley.

Members of Glenavy Accordion Band with Lisburn's Mayor Councillor James Tinsley.

JULY 12 1958 saw members of Glenavy Accordion Band wear second hand uniforms as they took part for the first time in the biggest day of Northern Ireland's summer marching season.

On that occasion the beat of the band's drums kept orange-men in step as they marked the 278th anniversary of King William's victory over King James at the Boyne.

This year the drumbeats at the climax of what has become known as 'Orangefest' will mark not only the famous battle's 318th anniversary but also five decades of Glenavy Accordion Band's participation in the parades.

The City's Mayor Councillor James Tinsley has already welcomed band members to the Mayor's Parlour during a reception marking the start of its Golden Anniversary year.

However, if its five decade marching tradition is to continue the band's ranks will need to increase as a spokesperson explained.

"The band has had its ups and downs but at present numbers are dwindling and it is increasingly difficult to attract new people," she said. "The accordion is not a hard instrument to learn, and our doors are open to anyone interested in learning. Band practice is held every Monday night from 8.00pm to 10pm. The band is kept busy all year round, taking on marching engagements and playing at other functions."

The spokesperson said there had always been 'great camaraderie' between band members "young and old.

"Anyone joining is made to feel part of the family," she continued. "The band is also a very hard working group. Through their fund raising over the past few years members have been able to buy new instruments and uniforms and have earned the right to call themselves the Pride Of Glenavy."

The spokesperson said the past 50 years had seen the band build a legacy that 'could not be measured in material possessions' but rather the 'friendship and fellowship' it has touched on through its union.

Glenavy Accordion Band was formed in February 1958 - just six months before its first July 12 outing - by members of Pride of Glenavy LOL 618. A number of fund raising events were organised with the help of the Ladies Committee and the first band practice was held in the Lodge Room.

The first Bandmaster was Bob Matthews who travelled from Gawley's Gate each week.

There has always been strong connections between LOL 618 and the band which has had one member from most families connected with the lodge at some point during the past 50 years.

A dinner for past and present band members will take place in May and the search is on for memorabilia and photographs to be displayed at the event. Anyone who can help should contact Alison Bell 07809 115263, Jennifer Kennedy 07882 093589 or Vivien McCullough 07718160578.

At the reception for Glenavy Accordion Band in the Mayor's Parlour

At the reception for Glenavy Accordion Band in the Mayor's Parlour were: (l-r) Lee Moorhead, George Henry, Mrs Sloan, Mr Harhinson and granddaughter Rebecca Kennedy.

Ulster Star