A new heritage centre in Limavady will serve as a “magnificent outreach base for Orangeism in the north-west”, Orange Order Grand Master Edward Stevenson has said.
The senior Orangeman was speaking at the official opening of the £700,000 facility in the Co Londonderry town at the weekend.
The impressive three-storey building includes an Orange museum, function room, lodge room and offices.
The new centre features details on the early lodges and Orange halls in the locality as well as prominent figures within the institution locally.
Artefacts from 19 th century Orangeism, the Home Rule period and both world wars are among those on display.
Mr Stevenson described the transformation from the old district hall as “truly immense”, stating the centre would be utilised not only by local lodges, but also the wider community.
“Such preservation of cultural heritage through interpretation and creation of shared space will serve not only to inform, but also demystify perceptions, and create a better understanding of our institution,” he said.
“This heritage centre will rightly take its place as part of the growing overall Orange product in Northern Ireland, complementing our now well-established Museums of Orange Heritage in both Belfast and Loughgall.
“It will also serve as a benchmark to our network of Orange halls across Northern Ireland and the border counties, as well as alongside the nearby Apprentice Boys’ Siege Museum, promoting the Loyal Orders more generally in the north-west.”
The grand master also unveiled a memorial window in tribute to those Orangemen from the local area who paid the supreme sacrifice during two world wars and over the course of the Troubles.
Keith Thompson, one of the trustees, said the heritage centre was exciting news for the Orange Order in Limavady and the surrounding area.
“This new building represents a major investment and a great optimism for the future,” he said.
“The trustees took a strategic decision to replace the old building, which had served its purpose well over the years since it opened in 1891, and to erect a modern facility on the site.”
For further information and to book a tour, or an event, at the new heritage centre visit www.limavadyorange.com.