A historical poem by Bro. Joseph Fowler (Brackagh L.O.L. No 18, Portadown) who lived in the Mullahead area and died on 5th May 1936, aged 86.
Joseph wrote a poem accounting his memory of the 12th July 1923 when an Orange Demonstration was held at Altnaveigh in memory of those who were massacred on the 17th June the previous year. Read more on that here
On July the twelfth, my Orange boys, Nineteen and twenty-three. The Orangemen of the County Armagh, Together did agree That they would visit Newry Town Upon the glorious day. In memory of the sacred dead That was shot in Altnaviegh. The Number that was shot that night I am sure you all do know But those that did assassinate them Far o’er the sea could go; For although they did for mercy cry, And to the Lord did pray, Those masked Sinn Feiners shot them dead, And then they ran away. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, And I will repay; For He put a mark on wicked Cain, And he could do the same to-day; And when the Martyrs, arrayed in white, Shall stand around God’s throne, He will say to them, “Ye blessed come, Inherit you eternal home.” The morning it was clear and fine, And the bands did sweetly play, As the Brethren from their lodgeroom Did march to the railway. Where a train was waiting for them, And when all had got a seat. They soon found themselves in Newry, In the ranks on Edward Street. From ten o’clock that morning The trains came running in. Well loaded with good loyal men Who will never have Sinn Fein, With No Surrender on their lips, This was their battle cry. For God and might and truth and right We will keep our powder dry. Armagh Districts that did arrive Was men of Lurgan Town, Loughgall, Richhill and Keady And the heroes of Portadown, Bessbrook District and Markethill, Armagh and Killylea. And Tandragee “No Pinch” was there That day at Altnaviegh. The Newtonhamilton Orangemen Deserve the praise of all, For although they could have stayed at home They attended duty’s call, By motor through Camlough town, Which is a dangerous way, They joined that great procession That day at Altnaveigh. Gilford District, like heroes bold, Came from loyal County Down, With Bros. M’Bride and Magill, Those men of high renown; They will not forget Bro. William M’Dowell, Who was shot on the Banbridge way, Where his blood will cry for vengeance Until the judgement day. In fours we marched to the Orange Hall, The Newry Brethren for to meet, Up to the Rathfriland Road, And down through Sandys Street. From Trevor Hill through Monaghan Street, Where the rebels where quiet and still, And to the left through Ballybot, And right up Doran’s Hill. When all arrived at Altnaviegh It was glorious to behold. It reminded me of the Israelites Encamped in the days of old; With orange banners floating high, And each man dressed so gay, We could see the homes of those Martyrs, Whose blood mixed with the clay. The Newry District Masters, I wish you all to understand, That they are well-trained leaders, And long may have command. God help the “B” men by day and night That guard the frontier town, And also their fearless Commander, To keep the gunmen down. To the Brethren that did attend that day, I wish to thank them all, For the way they did conduct themselves, I mean both great and small, They are a credit to their Masters And an honour to Newry Town, And long may they be able To keep Sinn Feiners down. So now I am going to conclude, And no more to you explain, God bless our Ulster Parliament, Long may they live and reign. God help them loyalists in the Free State And our Brethren o’er the sea, To smash the chains yoked on by King James Of cruel Popery.