Derry People Donegal News
Saturday 18 August 1990
Thousands Greeted AOH Parade
There was a smaller than expected turnout for the annual August 15th parade by the Ancient Order of Hibernians which Letterkenny hosted for the first time on Wednesday.
There were only two Donegal bands among the thirty-two taking part in the official parade which started at Derry Road, and proceeded through Port Road and Main Street to O' Donnell Park in the afternoon.
However the event drew a large number of visitors to the town in spite of the weather forecast for gales and heavy rain and although the marchers set off under a bright sky, soon there was drizzle, and then heavy rain curtailed the proceedings at O' Donnell Park.
St Baithin's Band from St Johnston had the honour of leading the parade which was headed by A.O.H. Officers from Ireland and Scotland including the President, Mr Raymond McCormick from Co. Antrim, the Donegal County President, Mr Donal Gallagher and the Assistant Vice-President, Mr Tommy Murphy from Killybegs.
The other Donegal Band was from Ardaghy, but most of the bands came from Co Antrim and Co Derry with representation from other Ulster Counties as well as a band from Coatbridge in Scotland, who distinguished themselves by their fervour.
The favourite tune was "A Nation Once Again" as the bands led the various A.O.H.Branches up the streets of Letterkenny. Some local people thought the low key affair was the beginning of the Folk Festival although no bunting had been erected. Indeed Letterkenny streets lacked all adornment as the festival colours were not erected until late that night.
Only a few of the AOH divisions kept their banners furled through a stiff breeze made the task of carrying the colours a test of strength and balance. The colourful banners depicting national and religious themes made a bright picture passing through the crowds of spectators on the pavements as the bands played their way through the town under a darkening sky.
For many of the visitors, it was their first time in Letterkenny and the town was alive with crowds all during the day with many guest houses booked out in advance. At least 5,000 people were in the town for the event which was not widely publicised.
The heavy rain at the end of the parade scattered the spectators many of whom returned to their buses parked on the outskirts of the town. Some of the bands had rain capes, but others who braved the elements in shirt sleeves were drenched as they hurried away from O'Donnell Park.
Traffic was diverted at various points around the town for much of the afternoon. There were no incidents during the parade and only a few Gardai were visible directing traffic.
In his address at O'Donnell Park,. Mr McCormack referred to emigration and to the right of young people to have a future in their own country. He commended the spirit of the A.O.H. organisation as giving an example to the young which was stronger than words.