Castledawson Flute Band

The people of Castledawson are no strangers to the sound of the flute. In fact at one time they had two bands, belonging to the local lodges, to choose from.

Going by local history and information the Band has been 125 years on the march. The first main event in which a flute band took part in was the 9th of August 1913 when the “William Prince of Orange” Flute Band lead the Chichester Unionist Party to Portrush for a Lord Carson Rally. The music of this band echoed through the village for 50 years before our formation. The last recorded parade by the Prince of Orange FB was the unveiling of a flag for the Apprentice Boys of Derry, by Mrs Chichester Clark, at the Castle in the village on 7th August 1926.

On 25th October 1926 a decision was taken at a meeting of the Prince of Orange Flute Band to change to a Part Music Flute Band. The following being appointed to act as a committee: Chairman: J Lesley, Secretary: J O’Hara, Treasurer: W Woods, Committee: A Bradley, J Browne,T Harte, T Lennox,R Leslie, W Johnston.

On Saturday 29th January 1927, the newly formed band made its first appearance when it appeared around the village under the leadership of Mr George McGrath.

On the 5th & 6th February 1927 a Bazaar in aid of bands funds for the Prince of Orange Part Music Flute Band was held on Friday and Saturday in the Protestant Hall. Prior to the opening ceremony the band paraded the streets of the town playing popular airs. Mr S.G. Davidson J.P. was Chairman on Friday and after praise by Rev. A.P. Chamberlain M.A. the Chairman explained the object of the sale. The band had been in existence for upwards of 50 years and for the last 25 years had been under the guidance of Alexander Bradley (to the local people it was known as Alex’s Band) They practised in the war memorial Hall, which was built in 1929 by the people of the town. In the hall is a war tablet displaying the names of all the local people who fought in the 1914 War.

In later years the Band became known as Castledawson Amateur Flute Band, and in the 1960’s they purchased their first uniforms, along with new side drums and bass drum under the leadership of Eccles Lennox.  In the 1980’s the band purchased its second uniform of navy-blue jackets and trousers with royal blue and yellow trim. 

In the 1990’s the Band under the leadership of Ezekiel Leacock and Brian Rankin, decided to bring in ladies and have went from strength to strength and now has a membership ranging from all ages of approximately 25. In the late 1990’s the Band also joined the Ulster Band Association and received new flutes and drums with a grant from the Arts Council. The band has also purchased new navy uniforms with royal blue and silver trim. 

The band has received more funding from the Arts Council and bought new flutes and new white side drums and changed the colour of the base drum to match. The band takes its own Lodge LOL 96 on the 12th of July, Castledawson Branch of the ABOD to Londonderry every other year and has also in the past lead Maghera, Magherafelt, Culnady and Tamlaght O’Crilly RBP on the Last Saturday in August.  The band also has privilege to lead the Remembrance Day parade every other for castledawson Branch of the Royal British Legion.  The Band has been privileged in the past to lead Castledawson District to the Tercentenary Parade in Belfast, the 12th in Rossnowlagh and the Bicentenary Parade in Loughall. The band also takes part in many parades held by other bands throughout the province.  Unfortunately 2020 saw no annual parade held in the village and this has been the first time in nearly 25 years that the band has not held a parade in Castledawson.   

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