Dunloy Accordion band mark 65 years since their formation back in 1956, welcoming the return of the parade season this year as they prepare for their annual walk around Ballymoney this evening.
The band formed and still remain based in the small Co Antrim village of Dunloy just six miles from their tradition parading ground of Ballymoney.
Hosting one of the largest parades in the province on the last Saturday of July every year, the pandemc meant last year’s event was forced to dramatically scale back to adhere with COVID regulations.
In 2020 despite not cancelling their annual parade, the band decided, given the situation with the COVID-19 virus, to parade the town themselves without any others bands in attendance.
However, the award-winning band plans to make the most of this year’s parade, welcoming upwards of 80 bands according to submissions at the parades commission website.
As well as attending many parades around Northern Ireland, Dunloy Accordion are known for their concerts, having previously taken part in the Belfast Tattoo and further afield at the London Lords Mayor parade several years ago.
Local MLA Mervyn Storey spoke ahead of the bands annual parade, saying:
‘‘Dunloy Accordion Band is not just a cherished local institution but a hugely respected member of the bands community in Northern Ireland.
“I want to wish its members and supporters every blessing as they mark its 65th anniversary, and thank them for the countless hours of enjoyment that they have given to many thousands of people over the years. We are proud of your success.
“Such is its reputation for talent and dedication throughout the years, the band continues to draw a wide membership from right across our Province, often spanning consecutive generations in the same family. Its annual parade is also one of the largest and popular fixtures in the annual band calendar.
“Having already showcased their talent and our local community on the domestic and international stages, it is testament to the attitude of its leaders and members that this shows no signs of slowing down. I know plans are already underway for the band to travel to the Somme to perform and this will be another exciting chapter for the Band as it marks this major milestone.”
I want to extend my best wishes to Dunloy on this special occasion and wish them every continued success in the months and years ahead.’’
Tonight’s parade begins at 8 pm, leaving from the Showgrounds on North Road.