The Twelfth of July: What is the significance of the Lambeg drum with celebrations in Northern Ireland?

-Credit: (Image: Justin Kernoghan)
-Credit: (Image: Justin Kernoghan)


Thousands of people are gearing up to take part in The Twelfth of July celebrations across the country this year.

Celebrations would not be complete without the Lambeg Drum, a symbol of the annual tradition, featuring in parades in every corner of NI.

Together with the bagpipes, the Lambeg Drum is one of the loudest acoustic instruments in the world, reaching more than 120 dB.

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At more than three feet in diameter and two feet in depth, a full-size version weighs between 35 and 40lbs.

Despite its huge weight, the Lambeg Drum is usually carried and played by the drummer as they walk using a neck harness.

Here are some facts about the Lambeg drum and its association with The Twelfth of July:

Where did the Lambeg Drum come from?

Hillsborough District LOL No 19 -Credit:GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
Hillsborough District LOL No 19 -Credit:GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY

The history of the Lambeg Drum is a bit unclear, but some accounts say it arrived in Ulster along with English settlers in the 17th century.

Other takes on its origin say it came to Ireland with King William of Orange's war - which makes sense given its connections to the Orange Order and the Twelfth of July.

Why is it called a Lambeg Drum?

The Lambeg Drum comes from the Co Antrim village of Lambeg, the area the instrument was first played with canes.

How is a Lambeg Drum made?

The Drum's shell is usually made from oak and goat skins make the drum heads.

A Lambeg skin is also said to get a 'special' treatment, secret to every maker.

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