New Donegal Orange hall rising from ashes of arson attack

Members of Convoy Thiepval Memorial LOL 1005 in East Donegal officially lay the cornerstone of their new Orange hall

Members of Convoy Thiepval Memorial LOL 1005 in East Donegal officially lay the cornerstone of their new Orange hall

Efforts to build a new Orange hall are now under way on the site of one which was wrecked in an arson attack.

The venue in Convoy, Co Donegal, had been burned in October 2014 as part of a spate of attacks targeting premises used by the Order.

Convoy Orange hall was targeted in the arson attack in October 2014

Convoy Orange hall was targeted in the arson attack in October 2014

In the weeks leading up to the fire, Newtowncunningham Orange hall (also in Donegal) was torched, while Carnagh Orange hall in south Armagh was targeted in an attempted bomb attack.

Around the same time Convoy Presbyterian Church, near the Orange hall, was also attacked and a Bible burned.

Its minister, Rev Colin McKibben, said it was probably the work of the same people.

The attacks drew condemnation from the leaders of both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Now the cornerstone has been laid for the construction of a new Orange Hall at the Convoy site – and among those taking part in the ceremony to mark the occasion was an Orangeman who had helped to build the original hall.

Sam Parker, a former member of the lodge, journeyed from Larne to the ceremony last Wednesday.

His now-deceased father Samuel Snr, as well as fellow Orangeman Oliver McClure, led a team of volunteers who constructed the hall.

It stood for 84 years before the premises were wrecked in a blaze.

In contrast to the carts, ropes and buckets used by the original volunteers, today’s building is the work of Lowry Construction, a civil engineering firm based in Castlederg.

The history of the hall can be traced back to the formation of Convoy Thiepval Memorial LOL 1005 in 1919.

The lodge was named in honour of the Convoy men who died during World War One. At least 70 men from the area were part of the Army, Royal Navy and the air force of the day.

The original 1930-built hall was named The Thiepval Memorial Orange Hall.

Following the arson attack it was agreed that a new hall must be built to carry on this proud tradition of remembrance in Convoy.

In a statement, the lodge said it was “greatly indebted” to other lodges, Royal Black preceptories, and Apprentice Boys clubs across the British Isles which contributed to, and continue to support, the Convoy Hall Appeal.