Inch, a quiet townland nestled in County Down, witnessed the birth of a musical tradition that has withstood the test of time. Celebrating its centenary year, the Inch Flute Band, with its rich history and enduring legacy, remains a testament to the enduring spirit of its founding members.
In 1923, the band’s inception can be traced back to a proposal made by a visionary figure, the great-great-grandfather of DUP Councillor Jonny Jackson. At an Orange Lodge meeting, he laid the foundation for the musical ensemble we know today. Councillor Jackson reminisces, “He proposed that the band be started, and that’s how it all began.”
In its nascent days, the band donned their Sunday best attire and classic flat caps as their inaugural uniform. This humble beginning, however, laid the groundwork for a century of music and camaraderie.
Councillor Jackson highlights the crucial role of families in sustaining the band’s legacy, stating, “Families have kept the Co Down band going, and the Orange Lodge has had a major influence on it.”
The year 2023 has been a momentous one for the Inch Flute Band, marked by heartfelt centenary celebrations. Their grand centenary parade, held in Killyleagh in June, was a standout event, drawing participants and spectators alike. Moreover, a select few band members embarked on a pilgrimage to the Somme in Belgium, connecting with ancestral roots and honoring the brave souls who fought in World War I.
This year has seen the band’s music echo through the streets as they participated in a multitude of parades, their presence felt far and wide. Notably, the Inch Flute Band has experienced a surge in new members hailing from the local community in recent years, invigorating the ensemble and ensuring its continued vibrancy.
In a touching gesture, the band was honored with an invitation to a Civic Reception in Parliament Buildings, hosted by Diane Forsythe, DUP MLA. Their dedication and musical prowess also garnered attention in Banbridge, where they partook in a grand parade, realizing the extent of the followers who have been captivated by their remarkable journey.
The centenary of the Orange Lodge band has not gone unnoticed on the national stage. Jim Shannon MP, in an early day Motion, paid homage to the band’s enduring commitment and celebrated their illustrious century of musical excellence. As the Inch Flute Band looks back on a century of harmonious devotion, their legacy stands as a testament to the enduring power of music, tradition, and community spirit.