Lodge Life: Orangeism showcased during heritage week

Young people participating in a musical workshop at Sloan's House, Loughgall
Young people participating in a musical workshop at Sloan's House, Loughgall

A series of events is continuing as the Orange Institution plays host to its second annual heritage week.

Historical talks, music, guided tours, exhibitions and workshops are just some of the activities which have taken place across Northern Ireland; aiming to celebrate and inform audiences about the origins of the Loyal Order, its membership and its influence on wider society.

Running from September 21-28, 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 tomorrow on Ulster Day, marking the anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant by unionists in opposition to Home Rule in 1912.

One of the flagship events was the inaugural three-day Orange Tree Festival, held in Loughgall, which centred around Dan Winter’s Cottage and the Museum of Orange Heritage in Co Armagh.

Highlights included traditional musical performances and workshops, a craft fair, historical talks and a panel discussion on Orangeism.

Orangemen pay their respects at the grave of Corporal Smith who fought at the Battle of the Boyne

Orangemen pay their respects at the grave of Corporal Smith who fought at the Battle of the Boyne

Visitors also enjoyed an audience with Colonel William Blacker, a participant in the Battle of the Diamond and one of the original members of the institution.

In nearby Portadown, Carleton Street Orange hall has hosted a programme of events including audio tours of the historic building, a children’s treasure trail and a concert.

Meanwhile, in Limavady, Grand Secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson was among the attendees at the launch of a new historical DVD, ‘Gem of the Roe’, documenting Orangeism in the locality.

A presentation by historian Quincey Dougan on Orange heritage in the Republic was also delivered in the north-west, as well as in Banbridge.

Tomorrow, one of the final events of heritage week will be an Orange Order themed trail of Belfast City Cemetery.

On Monday, Orangemen paid their respects in the Shankill graveyard to Corporal Smith, a soldier in the Williamite army who was buried in 1690.