5,000 AOH members to descend on Falls Road
Andersonstown News Thursday 18th of September 2009
by Francesca Ryan
For the first time in over 30 years, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) will hold one of their two annual parades here in Belfast.
The parade, scheduled for next August, will see up to 5,000 members descend on the West for the Falls Road procession.
Much of the organising will take place at the Clonard Hibs club, home of the Order’s Division 58. This week, we spoke to Division 58 members Harry McCabe and Billy Collins, who hold high ranks in the Order.
“The last time the parade was held here was in 1979,” said Harry, National Secretary of the AOH. “It was suspended after that as the Troubles took hold. Now the political climate has changed, we feel the time is right to bring our culture back to the road.”
The parade will see numerous bands take to the Falls Road alongside AOH members from around the world before a series of speeches are delivered at Dunville Park.
“The two big days on our calendar,” said Billy, Vice President of the AOH’s National Board, “are St Patrick’s Day and August 15.
“For years the August parade has been held up the country but we believe the time is right to bring it back to Belfast, and so we volunteered to have it here.”
Both men expect to garner plenty of support from locals for the parade, which, they say,will involve the whole community. “We intend to get local shops, clubs and sports teams involved,” said Billy.
“The parade will take in Andersonstown, the Upper Falls and the Springfield Road, arriving at the Dunville Park. It is going to be a massive community event.”
The AOH was established in the 17th century in Ireland to act as guardian against anti-Catholic forces. However, these days much of the Order’s activities revolve around social events – and it’s no different for Division 58.
“We are not just an organisation,” said Harry. “We are well known for our social events and hold many fundraisers throughout the year. To have the annual parade here on the Falls Road is the biggest social activity we have ever had on our books and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
For more information on the parade or about the organisation, contact Billy Collins on