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Confronting my Twelfth prejudices has been enlightening … despite ‘King Billy rock’ scar

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And it’s on the Twelfth I love to… go to Mass. Have a confrontation outside the church. Watch the parades in Belfast and in Liverpool. Witness riots in Ardoyne. Meet with the Imperial Orange World Council. Write a book about the Orange Order.

I would never claim an exciting life. But the one entry I might lodge in the Guinness Book of World Records is a variety of Twelfth of July experiences.

The Twelfth has a lot to answer for as it sparked an enduring interest in Northern Irish politics. The annual Orange demonstration in Southport, where I grew up, was the most notable event of the year.

Well, the only event of the year, really, in a sleepy seaside English resort not exactly noted for sectarian fervour.

Thousands of marchers would come on their annual day out from Liverpool and turn the town Orange. It briefly seemed very exciting until I made the shocking childhood discovery that they were all, shock horror, Protestants.

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For some of us being educated largely by nuns and priests at the time, this was a crushing revelation. And a few of us resolved to be utterly offended and oppose the parades.

Many Catholics of a certain vintage might recall being dragged from their bed to attend Sunday Mass. Multiply that pain several times for Holy Days of Obligation during school holidays. Oddly though, midweek Mass on........

© Belfast Telegraph

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