An all-encompassing Orange hall and major community hub will open its doors for the first time in Co Armagh this weekend.
Saturday will mark the beginning of a new era for Kilcluney LOL 132 as the Markethill lodge symbolically moves to the purpose built modern facility.
The unique £670,000 development, supported by the Executive Office’s Social Investment Fund, comprises a state-of-the-art building incorporating a lodge room, function hall, conference room, kitchen and changing rooms.
The latter complements an existing 3G sports pitch, used by local sports clubs and other organisations within the area.
Kilcluney worshipful master Bryan Hunter maintained the hall opening would mark an “historic” day not only for the lodge, but for Orangeism in Armagh and further afield.
“It shows we are progressive, we are moving forward and providing for the wider community. It also underlines we are at the heart of our local community,” he said.
“The new hall complements steps we have already taken in providing sporting facilities for our local use. As well as the high specification pitch, we have built a hall now which is fit for purpose in providing amenities for the entire community.”
Mr Hunter confirmed the hall would be used, aside from lodge business, for various recreational, educational and social purposes. Plans are already at an advanced stage to cater for an extensive programme of events.
Local football club, Markethill Swifts, currently use the adjoining pitch for home matches. The impressive flood-lit sports facility, which opened last year, is also utilised on a regular basis by groups of young people.
The contemporary Orange hall will be formally opened by Grand Master Edward Stevenson. Ahead of its dedication, the senior Orangeman will also officially close the nearby former hall on the Mowhan Road, which has served the lodge since 1934.
Mr Hunter said: “We envisage pausing at the old hall where there will be a symbolic removal of the warrant, mallets and banner. These then will be installed in the new building. The gesture will recognise the eight decades of service provided by the old hall.”
Saturday’s dedication service will be conducted by Rev Nigel Reid. The ceremony will be preceded by a parade, commencing at 12.30pm from Markethill High School.
Organisers have issued an invitation to members of the public to come and view the hall following its opening.