Armagh festival heads Orange heritage week

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The birthplace of Orangeism will be centre stage later this month as the Orange Institution plays host to its second annual heritage week.

The Orange Tree Festival in Co Armagh will explore the formation of the Loyal Order through, music, song and cultural experiences.

The three-day event, held in Loughgall, will be one of a programme of activities running from September 21 – 28, aiming to celebrate and inform audiences about the origins of the institution, its membership and its influence on wider society.

Other confirmed events include tours of, and events at, Carleton Street Orange hall, Portadown; a series of activities at Limavady Orange heritage centre; and an Orange Order themed trail of Belfast City Cemetery.

The timing of Orange heritage week has historical and cultural relevance, commencing on the anniversary of the formation of the institution in 1795. It will culminate on Ulster Day, marking the anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant by unionists in opposition to Home Rule in 1912.

The Tree Festival will kick-off this year’s heritage week with guided tours of Dan Winter’s Cottage and the Museum of Orange Heritage in Co Armagh. Other highlights include traditional musical performances and workshops, historical talks and a panel discussion on Orangeism.

In nearby Portadown, Carleton Street Orange hall will be hosting a packed programme of events including audio tours of the historic building; a children’s treasure trail; a concert and the launch of three exhibitions; Portadown Orangemen on the Western Front, Drumcree: 20 Years On and Orange & Industry.

Meanwhile, history will be the focus in Limavady as the Orange heritage centre holds a number of lectures, including the involvement of Roe Valley Orangemen in the First World War.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said Orange heritage week was now an “integral component” of the Loyal Order’s calendar of outreach events.

He said: “Following on from our inaugural heritage week last year, we are delighted to be once again organising a variety of events and activities across the Province. By showcasing the impressive cultural heritage of Orangeism and its significance, this latest venture aims to educate and inform all sections of society about our traditions and identity.

“I wish the respective organisers every success with their endeavours; and would encourage all of our members, and the wider public, to get involved and show their support for this tremendous initiative.”

For a full programme of events, follow ‘Orange Heritage Week 2018’ on Facebook.