Orange banner found in Dublin attic returned to former member of Belfast’s oldest lodge
An Orange banner belonging to what is believed to be the oldest warrant in Belfast has ‘come home’ after being found in a Dublin roofspace.
The banner once belonged to St Barnabas Church Defenders Temperance Orange Lodge LOL 238, a now defunct lodge which has only three former members still living.
One of those members is Martyn McCready, now 75. He recalls carrying the banner on the Twelfth morning when he was just 18: “I remember carrying it with a fella called Alan Humphries from Duncairn Gardens to Clifton Street Orange Hall and then from there to the field in Edenderry.
“That was in 1973, it was about five or six miles and the same back.
“Being quite honest at my age I don’t think I could carry it to the end of the road. Alan and I were only 18, 19, two whippersnappers, away we went.
“I don’t remember getting any aches or pains. I think I might even have gone to a dance that night.”
Martyn, who still lives in Belfast but is now a Bangor Orangeman (LOL 769) and also District Master of Bangor District LOL 18, was reunited with the banner last weekend when he travelled to Dublin to meet with Chris Thackaberry of Dublin and Wicklow LOL 1313, who had taken temporary care of the historical item.
LOL 238 was formed before 1800 and later became attached to St Barnabas Church in Duncairn Gardens.
Martyn was a member of the lodge as a young man in the 1960s and 70s.
He explained that as the Troubles escalated the lodge became restricted as to where it could march on the Antrim Road to the point where they had to exit the church via the back door after their Twelfth morning service. The church service was then stopped.
Martyn said: “Our last service we had was in William Walton’s funeral parlour on the Crumlin Road.
“1978 or 1979 was the last time that banner flew at a parade in Belfast.”
The banner found its way to Dublin as it was to be repainted for one of the lodges in the south of Ireland. That never happened and the banner gathered dust in a roofspace in the Liberties area of the city.
Martyn told how he came across the old banner: “I found it on a webpage – the article said ‘Long lost Orange banner found In Dublin’. I clicked onto it, I saw the banner and saw everyone in the photo standing beside it, and I said, ‘That’s St Barnabus’ banner’. I got in contact with the people from the Dublin and Wicklow lodge who had posted the article. They were delighted for me to take it back.”
Of the moment he unfurled the banner he said: “It didn’t half bring back memories.”
Martyn plans to donate the banner along with other items to the Orange Museum at Schomberg House.
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