An Orange leader has praised the generosity of the brethren who helped build an all-new district headquarters.
Mark Elliott said it had been a long-cherished dream among members to replace the dilapidated ex-RIC barracks in Loughbrickland which had previously served as their hall.
And on Tuesday members of the public from across the community were welcomed into the new, roughly £320,000 building for an open day to mark its completion.
Mr Elliott said the old hall, seating 80, had been taken over from the RIC in the 1920s.
It fell into increasing disrepair for about 20 years successive district masters had spoken of getting rid of it, before they finally had it torn down a few years ago.
Their efforts to raise funds for a new one were garnering only several thousand pounds per year – not nearly enough.
When Mr Elliott heard about a local man who was paying £1,000 monthly on his mortgage, he decided that if his own 187-strong district membership could not manage around £1,500 every month between them, “it would be a very poor reflection on our order!”
A £175,000, 15-year mortgage was taken out, and much of the rest was either borrowed elsewhere or donated.
The hall, which now seats over 200, opened last month.
Mr Elliott, 53 and from Rathfriland, said: “One of our old members, at the first meeting we had after we knocked the old hall down, threw a cheque of £1,000 down on the table and said: ‘There you go – that’ll start you’.
“People have been very, very generous...
“A lot of Orange halls around the country are old buildings that have been extended. There’s very, very few lodges have actually gone out to build a brand new hall on a bare site.”
It is named the Sir Henry Wilson Memorial Hall after a senior Irish-born British soldier who was assassinated by the IRA in 1922.