MORE than 300 years after the Williamite forces claimed the grassy slopes of the River Boyne as their own, the northern shores of the Co Louth site are back in Orange hands.
The 27-acre site close to the town of Drogheda was acquired last year by a group of Orangemen who clubbed together to form the Boyne Foundation.
A new Lodge of Limited Purposes called the Boyne Obelisk LOL 1690, which has already attracted 50 members from the other 1,200 lodges across Ireland, has been set up with the principal aim of rebuilding a massive obelisk commemorating the famous battle between Catholic King James II, who had lost the throne of England, and his nephew William of Orange.
The original 170ft structure, which was taller than Nelson's Column, was blown up by republicans in 1923.
It is also planned to turn the land into a major tourist attraction with the help of millions of euro which have been pledged to the project by the Irish government
On Saturday the historic plot of land, which is where King William assembled and rallied his troops before the famous battle, saw Orange footsteps for the first time in hundreds of years as Orangemen from across Ireland attended a dedication ceremony.
Lord Laird of Artigarvan has been voted to serve as the first Worshipful Master and he said it was "a very proud moment" for all involved.
"There is no bigger symbol anywhere for those who support Orange culture than the green grassy slopes of the Boyne," he said.
"It is our urgent wish to have the massive historic obelisk, which was on our site from 1736 until it was blown up by republican action in 1923, rebuilt.
"The obelisk was one of the outstanding landmarks anywhere on the island of Ireland and would be a welcome rallying point for tourists, historians as well as all those who believe in the total equality of man and the importance that the Battle of the Boyne had in 1690 in achieving that objective.
"I am deeply honoured to be the first Worshipful Master of this Lodge of special purpose and look forward to using the facilities for the good of Orangeism, Ulster-Scots and equality of all mankind. I am particularly impressed by the support of local residents, the local police and other authorities which operate in the area.
"The considerable success of the launch day and its impressive turnout from all parts of these islands would not have been possible without everyone's cooperation and in particular the support of the local police service.
"I look to the days that lie ahead to continue our interaction with members of the local community and to ensure that the green grassy slopes in the Boyne Valley beside the historic river play their part in the local community as well as local commerce and tourism."