Ulster Grenadiers mark 20-year milestone

David McMurtry with other founder members of the band at Carrick Town Hall.  INCT 36-724-CON
David McMurtry with other founder members of the band at Carrick Town Hall. INCT 36-724-CON

Over 1500 spectators lined the streets of Carrick on Friday night as the Ulster Grenadiers Flute Band marked their 20th anniversary.

Some 28 bands and 1600 bandsmen took part in a parade to celebrate the milestone, including visitors Pride of the North Liverpool.

Clogher Protestant Boys taking part in the parade.  INCT 36-728-CON

Clogher Protestant Boys taking part in the parade. INCT 36-728-CON

Departing from the King William III statue at Carrickfergus Castle, the parade followed the Marine Highway before proceeding to Market Place, Albert Road, and through Irish Quarter to Davys Street.

The procession finished at the Town Hall, which on Saturday evening was the venue for a gala dinner in honour of the occasion.

With over 100 guests, the event saw involvement from local UKIP councillor, Noel Jordan, chairman of UKIP in East Antrim Stuart Armstrong, and Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and local lodge 553 member, Drew McCoubrey.

“They are all very big supporters of our band and are always available to lend a helping hand in any way, for which we are truly grateful,” said Daryl Martin of the Ulster Grenadiers.

Carrickfergus Defenders leading the Ulster Grenadiers 20th anniversary parade.  INCT 36-725-CON

Carrickfergus Defenders leading the Ulster Grenadiers 20th anniversary parade. INCT 36-725-CON

“On the night we were very proud to host our honorary member and founder chairman, David McMurtry.”

Also in attendance were members of the Larkhall Scotland Duke of Manchester LOL 143, along with Worshipful District Master Danny Kennedy from Larkhall Orange and Purple District 41.

Ulster Grenadiers Flute Band had its beginnings in 1996 when a number of former members from Whiteabbey Protestant Boys came together.

“They had a meeting at David McMurtry’s home and it was decided after a short discussion that we would start a new flute band in Carrickfergus,” Daryl added.

Pictured at Carrick Town Hall are Councillor Noel Jordan, UKIP; honorary member and founding chairman, David McMurtry; Anne McMurtry and Linda Jordan.  INCT 36-727-CON

Pictured at Carrick Town Hall are Councillor Noel Jordan, UKIP; honorary member and founding chairman, David McMurtry; Anne McMurtry and Linda Jordan. INCT 36-727-CON

“After a head count we had the nucleus of a band: five drummers, one bass drummer and 12 flutes.”

A meeting was organised in Carrick Rangers Football Club on September 4, 1996, and the Ulster Grenadiers were officially formed.

“Dues were set at £5 a week and an interest free loan from the chairman David McMurtry saw the purchase of instruments,” Daryl said.

“On Easter Sunday 1997, the Ulster Grenadiers paraded in the Carrickfergus Juvenile Church Parade with four of a colour party, eight side drums, two bass drummers, 22 flutes and a side walker.”

And in 2016, the band is still going strong, forging long-standing connections with other groups including LOL 553, Bennett’s Chosen Few; Cavehill RBP 81; Larkhall Duke of Manchester 143, and Carrickfergus 36th Ulster Division Somme Society.

“We are very lucky as a band to have the chance to lead these lodges on parade at their annual events and have built up a huge friendship,” Daryl said.