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The Mad Dogs Ė

Ahoghill Loyal Sons of William Flute Band.

MY NAME is Craig. Iím an 18-year-old Protestant and Iím currently a member of Ahoghill Loyal Sons of William Flute Band.

My first memories of the band scene would have been when I was about three. I remember an Apprentice Boys parade in my home village of Broughshane in 1988, which commemorated the 300th anniversary of the Relief of Derry. I managed to walk quite a bit of the route with my dad who is a member of the Apprentice Boys. We walked behind Carnalbana Flute Band and my love of bands has continued on from that day.

My family were always very much into the parading scene. My dad has been a member of the Apprentice boys for almost 20 years and quite a lot of my uncles are members of the Orange Order, Apprentice Boys and Royal Black Perceptory.

The first Twelfth I took part in was when I walked with my uncleís lodge. His lodge is based in Aghalee in County Down. I canít remember where the parade took part but I can remember the excitement in me as I prepared to walk the Twelfth for the first time. I was only about eight at the time as I lined up in front of my uncle and behind my cousin who I remember was also very excited. I remember wishing I could play the drum as the band that took the lodge I walked with was playing really well. Also the noise of the Lambeg drums was another great part of the day. I also remember how tired I was at the end of the day after the long walk but also how I would look forward to the next yearís Twelfth.

As I walked with my dadís Apprentice Boys club every year from I was about seven, I decided I would like to join the band that led us. And in 1996 I joined Carnalbana Flute Band. Unfortunately though I had real problems learning the flute and although I took part in the Black Saturday parade in Ballyclare in 1996 I decided to give up the flute and quit the band.

From this time onwards every 12th of July I would watch the Broughshane and Ballymena Twelfth demonstrations. These are both small in numbers as there are three demonstrations around Ballymena. Although small, I still enjoyed both parades very much and I especially liked the Blood and Thunder bands with their loud drumming and precise fluting. Then in 1997 my parents took me to the Belfast parade for the return journey. This was definitely the best Twelfth Iíd been to and I remember a few bands dressing up in funny hats and all.

Then in the year 2000 I walked the Twelfth again with my uncleís lodge. This time it was in Ballinderry. This time I remember the field, which had loads of stalls and a bouncy castle etc. making the field really colourful. I also remember again the lambeg drums, which played all day.

Then in 2002 I started to travel all over Northern Ireland to different bandsí parades through the year. So it was in September 2002 after travelling to a band parade in Newtownards with Ahoghill band that I decided I would give the flute another go.

So at the start of 2003 I joined Ahoghill Loyal Sons of William Flute Band and I started attending the band practices and I got my flute and notes. Straight away this time I knew I could do it and I surprised quite a few people when I turned up at band practice the next week with one tune fully learnt. After this it was just a matter of knowing enough tunes to be out parading. Then on the 12th July 2003 I took part in my first parade. It was a wonderful day. Our demonstration took place in Portglenone. I thoroughly enjoyed my first parade with the band and was more than glad that I had joined the band.

Since then I took part in many more parades and I have created a website for the band which can be found at www.freewebs.com/alsow. I hope to continue to take part in and watch band parades for many more years and not let anything ruin or destroy our band scene.


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