New memorial flag is unfurled

Rev. James Clarke, who dedicated the new Pride of the Maine 40th anniversary flag, is pictured with band members before parading on Monday night. INBT17-201AC
Rev. James Clarke, who dedicated the new Pride of the Maine 40th anniversary flag, is pictured with band members before parading on Monday night. INBT17-201AC

Ballymena’s Pride of the Maine Flute Band took the very first steps towards their 40th anniverary celebrations last Monday evening.

It was back in 1975 - a time of skinny rib jumpers, big collars and half mast trousers - that a group of young men, most of them associated with the Maine Park estate in Galgorm started up a flute band.

Little did they know that 40 years later the name of Pride of the Maine would be famous throughout Ulster band circles and beyond.

To begin a series of events marking those 40 years, the band dedicated a new memorial flag at a service in Galgorm Orange Hall.

After the dedication, the band paraded the standard - which has been designed by the members in memory of all members who have passed on - around the local area.

“It was an emotional night for the band,” said a spokesman. “We have had so many members pass through our ranks over the years. A lot of them have since passed away but their memory lives on forever.”

More events are planned to mark the major anniversary and these include a fund raising table quiz in the Thatch Inn, Broughshane on May 8.

“There will be many other events as the year goes on and we will finish the anniversary celebrations with a dinner in Leighinmohr House Hotel on November 6.

“Speak to any band member about tickets,” said the spokesman.

The first Saturday in June is traditionally the Annual Collection Parade in Ballymena and this year the bands will set off from Castle Street at 8pm and following the normal route into Harryville and around the Town centre.

“The band really appreciates the support they have had for the 40 years at their parade and are looking forward to on this special year.