Today is July 12, this date has been a pretty big deal for a long time, like since the Battle of the Boyne 1690. The Protestant King William of Orange won this battle against Catholic King James II. He won lots of battles, but this one from the late 17th Century really stuck with us.
As is usual with battles some people took one side over the other, and despite truce and treaties and the dawning of the day the battle lines are still pretty well drawn in the sand.
I grew up in the Republic of Ireland on the border of Northern Ireland, no matter where I am in the world I will remember July 12th as a day of “trouble.” If it was just one day of trouble we could all deal with it, but no it starts about a few weeks before the big day and depending on the success of the day (which is in itself hard to distinguish) it could continue for much longer.
There are many reasons for this, there is, as you can tell a pretty long history to it too, generations of opinion. But it really boils down to a battle that was won by the Protestants over the Catholics back in 1690 but is still replayed each year. Marching is a large part of it, but so is the route.
Of course it should be a day of celebration, it should actually be a day for families to get together and enjoy, a day that should be marketed around the world as a tourist must. Instead it is the opposite, a large part of the population from Northern Ireland feel compelled to flee for a while, tourists are made aware it is not safe to travel to NI and well the rest of us hold our breaths, and wait … for the Trouble.
The problem with the day is that it is exclusive, exclusive to Orange Order members and Protestants and Presbyterians. St Patrick’s Day is a feast of a Catholic Saint but religions all over the world and even those here in Ireland mix and celebrate the day. But the Twelfth is exclusive, and full of controversy.
As it is based largely in Ulster, it could attract large tourist numbers in an era when Northern Ireland is flourishing, but sadly it marks a backward leap in Northern Ireland’s progressive steps.
Where do we go from here – quite literally what is the best route to take?