Ahoghill Royal Black Preceptory No. 173 have been celebrating their 150th anniversary with a number of events, including the unveiling of a new banner last week.
A thanks-giving service, which included the dedication of new cuffs and collarettes for the principal office bearers, was held in May, along with an anniversary dinner in the Ross Park Hotel, where Sir Knight Thomas Boyd, the preceptory’s third longest serving member of sixty-five years, cut the anniversary cake.
All who attended received a specially commissioned paperweight to mark the occasion and a very successful night was concluded with Sir Knight William Knox compering a night of Ulster Scots music and craic.
This brought the preceptory to their final event on July 29 - the unfurling of their new banner.
Sir Knight Ian Small, WM, welcomed everyone along, including the Sovereign Grand Master of the Institution, Sir Knight Millar Farr.
Sir Knight Small gave a brief history of the preceptory since its formation in 1866, when their first WM was installed in May of that year, a man by the name of William J. Burnett.
It was during the period 1923 to 1940, under the leadership of Sir Knight John Keith that the preceptory unfurled their first proper banner in 1939, having previously been headed by a flag whilst on parade.
Banner number two was unfurled on August 17 1962, followed by the third one on August 14, 1987.
Twenty-nine years on and in their 150 th anniversary year, it was time for banner number four.
Chairman for the evening was the Assistant Sovereign Grand Master, Sir Knight Ivan Kelly, who introduced minister, Sir Knight the Rev. David Murphy from the Cuningham Memorial, Cullybackey, who conducted the devotional exercises.
The banner was purchased in memory of the late Mrs Jean Barr, and her sister Mrs Margaret Cameron came forward to say a few words before being presented with the ceremonial scissors by Miss Haley Black.
Mrs Cameron said it was a great honour for her to unfurl this new banner, which portrayed the Red Cross and crown on one side, with David kneeling at the brook, on the reverse.
The Rev. David Murphy, following the dedication, gave an inspiring address relating to both pictures on the banner and he was followed by the kind remarks of the chairman, Sir Knight Ivan Kelly, Sir Knight Millar Farr, SGM, and Sir Knights Kenny Hull and Harold McCloy who brought congratulations and best wishes from the County and District Royal Black Chapters respectively.
The new banner was then paraded through the village, with the members of the Ahoghill preceptory led by Killycoogan accordion band, while Milltown Accordion band headed the many visitors who had come to support the members of Ahoghill ‘173’ in what has turned out to be a very special 150 th anniversary year.