In the early months of 1931 sixteen young men from Aghadowey, a large sprawling rural parish lying between the River Bann and the Sperrins to the south of Coleraine, met to discuss the possibility of forming an Apprentice Boys Club. After a lot of planning the Charter authorising the formation of Aghadowey Murray Club was signed and issued on the 26th October 1931. Since its formation the Club has made its home in Glenkeen Orange Hall.
First Officers were: President, Bro. James Macauley; Vice-President, Bro. William Millican; Chaplain, Bro. Robert Hanna; Treasurer Bro. C Jamison; Secretary, Bro. Albert Doherty; Committee Men, Bros. W S Archibald, Alex Archibald, James Doherty, W J Fisher, John Workman, and John Jamison (Tyler).
Through the years some family names of a few of the foundation members have disappeared, but there are still family connections with other foundation members through sons, sons-in-law and grandsons determined to continue and preserve the tradition of remembering the deeds of the brave 13 in Aghadowey.
The Club first attended the ‘Relief of Derry‘ celebrations in 1932 and older folk used to tell of a tremendous thunder storm with torrential rain the evening prior to that first outing to the Maiden City. The Clydesdale horse was the main source of horse-power on Ulster farms in these far off days and apparently many were injured or killed by stampeding in the lightning.
During the early years the Club would parade from Glenkeen Orange Hall the short distance to Aghadowey station,where they would board a train at 7 am, returning maybe as late as 7 pm. This continued until the railway closed on the last Saturday of August 1950 when the last train up the line carried home the local Sir Knights returning from their annual demonstration in Coleraine.
Club membership continued to rise steadily through the years especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s when there were well over 100 members and the form of transport was by UTA buses. Over the last number of years membership would be smaller than those earlier years: though Brethren today are every bit as determined to keep the Crimson flag flying in Aghadowey as those foundation Brethren.
Down through the years many Brethren have played an active part in the life of the local community; being Elders, Committee men, Vestry men in their local Churches to serving on what used to be known as school management committees – nowadays members of Board of Governors – to name just a few fields of service.
Many over the years served on the security forces and it was on 23rd July 1974 that the Club was dealt a severe blow when member Bro John Conley, serving as a Corporal with the UDR, was killed while with his colleagues clearing the area near a car bomb left by the IRA when it exploded in Garvagh. The Club honour Bro. Conley’s memory each year bylaying a wreath at Aghadowey War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday.
2020 has been a year of many challenges with the onslaught of the Coronavirus pandemic. Life as we know it hasbeen turned upside down with many functions, meetings and parades all being cancelled. ‘Derry Day’ was also a casualty and with no demonstration in the Maiden City the Brethren of Aghadowey Murray Club celebrated the eventby holding a very dignified remembrance service at Aghadowey War Memorial ably led by the Club Chaplain, Bro Raymond McKeeman. A wreath was laid in honour of all who had paid the supreme sacrifice in two World Wars and all other conflicts, including the troubles. With the national anthem played by some members of Glenkeen Fife & Drum Band, all were invited to tea in Glenkeen Orange Hall, where the Brethren enjoyed each other’s company for a brief time albeit maintaining social distancing.
As the Brethren prepare to celebrate their 90th anniversary in the not too distant future they do so with the same enthusiasm as the Brethren who founded the Club maintaining a presence locally of the Crimson colours for many years to come.