Lodge Life: Museum pays tribute to ‘Orange balladeer’

Pictured at the unveiling of the Richard Hayward artwork at the Museum of Orange Heritage are (from left) curator Dr Jonathan Mattison, sculptor Charles Ludlow and author Paul Clements
Pictured at the unveiling of the Richard Hayward artwork at the Museum of Orange Heritage are (from left) curator Dr Jonathan Mattison, sculptor Charles Ludlow and author Paul Clements

A bronze profile of a celebrated writer, singer, actor – and Orangeman – has gone on permanent display at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

The specially commissioned artwork of the late Richard Hayward is the central part of a new feature wall at the outreach facility, paying tribute to the acclaimed musician.

The Southport native, who spent most of his early life in Co Antrim, is perhaps best known for being the first artist to record the famous Orange folk song, ‘It is Old but it is Beautiful’, commonly known as the Sash, in the 1930s.

The recordings of his Orange songs were highly regarded by the leading music critics of the time, and included ‘The Ould Orange Flute’ and ‘Orange and Blue’ among others.

A member of Eldon Lodge No 7 in Belfast, Hayward also compiled an Orange Standard sheet music book containing 18 songs.

Tragically, he lost his life in a car accident near Ballymena in 1964.

According to Paul Clements, who has written extensively about Hayward, at the time of his death the actor was working on a history of the Institution from its foundation in 1795.

He was also in the process of putting together a sound picture of the Orange celebrations including 11th night bonfires, marching bands, cheering children, and the thud of marching feet, but died before it could be completed.

Mr Clements was one of a number of guests at the official unveiling of the Hayward wall, including Charles Ludlow, who sculpted the bronze profile.

Dr Jonathan Mattison, curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, said: “We are delighted to showcase this bronze relief in a permanent visual display in the museum where it will help highlight the cultural and musical dimensions of Orange heritage. I have no doubt it will prove to be a wonderful addition to our overall visitors’ experience.

“Richard Hayward made a remarkable contribution to Northern Ireland. He was an outstanding actor and folklorist of his generation, and is fondly remembered by many, especially those from the Orange tradition.”

Dr Mattison also expressed the appreciation of the museum’s board to the Hayward family for their kind donation.

Members of the public can view the Richard Hayward feature at the Museum of Orange Heritage on the Cregagh Road. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.