Saintfield Branch Club was formed in 1936, when the following 15 members were initiated in Derry: Thomas Cunningham, Ian Hay, Samuel Smyth, Thomas D. Rice, Samuel Murphy, William J. Smyth, Thomas Shaw, Andrew Hewitt, Thomas Hamilton, William Baillie, William Riddill, James Shaw, Thomas Lecky, James Scott, & James Cunningham. The Chapter was installed in Saintfield Orange Hall in September 1936. The President was Bro. Thomas Cunningham.
The late Bro. Aiken McClelland, a member of the Club, was a famous Orange Historian and gifted Orator; he is a direct descendant of two of the Defenders of Derry, these being James Fisher of Glendermott (who was outlawed by James II.
Dublin Parliament, on 12th May 1689) and Daniel Fisher of Derry City (who was in the City throughout The Siege and was one of those selected to sign the Address of Thanks to William & Mary on 29th July 1689.)
The first time the Saintfield Branch paraded in the Maiden City (Londonderry) was on 12th August 1937 (Relief of Derry). The information used to compile this history was supplied by Bro. Jack Anderson, who was aged 13 at the time of the Club’s formation; although old enough to join at that time he waited a few years before becoming a member. Jack’s father is in the photograph of the Club’s first parade in Derry.
The last surviving foundation member of the Club, Bro. Jim Scott, passed away on Good Friday 2002 and was interred on Easter Sunday – two very significant dates in the Christian calendar.
In the early years of the Club’s history there were over 100 enrolled members, some members living as far away as Downpatrick, some fifteen miles from Saintfield. In the prevailing years Saintfield Branch has been the source of new Branch Clubs opening in Bellshill, Barnarmagherry and Killyleagh. This reduced the membership to 50 members.
Today the Club have a steady membership of 18 members – but there is always room for more; who are a good natured bunch. The Club visit the Maiden City twice yearly to remember “The Shutting of the Gates” in December and the “Relief of Derry” in August. They organise a number of functions throughout the year which include an Ulster-Scots Night, Community Dances and Table Quizzes, and regularly visit other Branch Clubs promoting true brotherly love and loyalty.
The Branch Club continue to travel to Londonderry for the two main parade in The Apprentice Boys calendar, and also paraded to London and has been photographed outside Buckingham Palace
The last contribution was in 2004 in the Club Booklet to commemorate the 150 Anniversary of the Mitchelburne Club Apprentice Boys of Derry.
Sadly since then the Club have lost eight senior members all with over 50 years service.
However, they still have two members on the books with over 60 year’s service – Bros Jack Anderson and Billy Clarke
At the March meeting in 2013 they had three new members join, two of them following in the footsteps of their father and brother who are already in the Club.
The Club will be 80 years in existence in 2016, formed in 1936, no mean feat in this day and age, to which the members will mark the occasion of the anniversary.
The Club has given support to various charities i.e. Marie Curie Cancer, Help for Heroes, Royal Irish Regiment, Irish Guards and other charitable organisations, and also support all appeals from other branch Clubs and the Loyal Orders. To make all these donations possible the Club runs various entertainment nights.
They are greatly indebted to Saintfield United Guiding Star WLOL 67 ladies who help with these nights of fund raising.
As the Club prepare to celebrate the Organisation’s 300th Anniversary in 2014 they are sure the Saintfield Apprentice Boys will mark the event and make the people of Saintfield and surrounding countryside aware of the Organisation’s great achievement, also the members would like some Charity to prosper from any events that will be held to mark this great Anniversary.
The members attend the Closing and Opening of the Gates Demonstrations in December and August. To everyone in Saintfield these are the two main parades in the Organisation, but they also attend various other parades throughout the year.
On Saturday 9th February 2013 the Club had the honour of hosting the ABOD Club of Research meeting and their Election of Officers in Saintfield Orange Hall which was very interesting.