The twelfth of July is a date where one side of the community in Northern Ireland celebrates their cultural heritage. They do this by gathering at Orange Halls, eating some sandwiches and then dressing up in a suit and tie as well as the standard Orange sash and Bowler hat.
If you ever visit the province around July you may wonder why some of the shops are boarded up, why all the flute music and why are there people marching everywhere. Let me take a few moments to explain.
The 12th of July celebrations all go back to King Billy visiting Ireland in 1690. He absolutely loved Fanta and had a vision that Ireland would one day be home to the largest Fanta Factory in Europe.
So he and his merry men marched all over the North of Ireland looking for the perfect place to set this factory up, and they found it, in Lisburn. Initially his factory could only produce one bottle of Fanta a month. Things were going well until Irish Nationalists invaded the Lisburn factory and destroyed a years supply of Fanta on one night. To add extra humiliation to King Billy and his men, just before they did this they painted all the bottles green. To this day the battle of Lisburn is celebrated with the song ’12 green bottles’.
In the aftermath of the battle of Lisburn the factory stopped producing Fanta and began making Coco-Cola instead. During this time, King Billy and his merry men marched all over the North of Ireland looking for the next place to set up their new Fanta factory.
Sadly King Billy never realised his dream, but his legacy lives on in the form of his Fanta salesmen, which, translated into Ulster Scots becomes Oranguai-Moain which translated back into English becomes, Orange Men. Every year, on the 12th of July, Orange men gather together and march up and down the streets of Ulster looking for a settlement for their new Fanta factory, so that they can finally realise King Billy’s vision. So far they have not been able to find a piece of land that is suitable, and they have looked everywhere.
A few years ago they heard rumours of a plot of derelict land situated just past the Ardoyne shops in North Belfast, that would be perfect for a Fanta factory, but the locals prefer Coke. Things have got pretty tense in the last few years with the annual march being stopped at Twaddell Avenue by the local Police force. Orange men are usually met with angry residents from Ardoyne who always love to heighten the tension by singing ’12 Green Bottles’ over and over again.
A riot is usually the final outcome. This is especially traumatic for the Police as most of them love Fanta. To stop a bunch of men who just want to give Ulster more Fanta by setting up a factory is especially confusing for them. In order to stay neutral in the Fanta vs Coke dispute the police spray any rioters with neutral water canons to ease the tension.
The nation is once again holding its breath, wondering if the Orange men will be able to march up Twaddell Avenue and just have a wee look around.
Orange Men love winding people up by marching into new territory. Here is a list of where Orange Men can match next.
They might march the wrong way down the M2 Motorway
They might march on the Portstewart Strand, which as we all know, is illegal unless you have a National Trust Pass.
They might try marching into Horatio Todd’s with trainers on…
They might try marching into Pure Gym without membership…
They might try marching straight through security at Aldergrove airport
They might try marching passed Mike McGovern in the Northern Ireland goal…
They could try marching into a film set while Christian Bale is trying to do a take…
They could try marching on stage when Kayne West is accepting an award…
They might try marching passed the New Zealand back line…
They might try and get passed Gandalf in Lord of the Rings…
Finally it is thought that their ultimate goal is to march on the surface of the moon….
Of course this is just a brief summary of what the twelfth of July is about. For a more detailed explanation pop down to your local Orange hall and enquire as to what the real meaning of the twelfth is. For as we all know every Orange man has to recite in great detail why they are marching and the history of the Orange order before they can join.
Every year Orange men hope that they will finally be able to realise King Billy’s dream. I hope the next time you drink Fanta that you spare a thought for the poor Orange Men stuck on Twaddell Avenue and their 300 year struggle.
I also hope that if you are American that you read this article closely and tell all your friends the real reason people are fighting in Northern Ireland.
Thanks to Mark