Lodge Life: The tragic story of the Titanic and Orangeism

An Orange bannerette in honour of Titanic victim, Thomas Morrow
An Orange bannerette in honour of Titanic victim, Thomas Morrow

The long connection of Orangeism with shipbuilding, the Titanic and its fateful maiden voyage, will be highlighted as part of a gala dinner tomorrow evening.

Members of the Orange Institution and supporters are due to gather in Titanic Belfast for a flagship event in aid of the Drew Nelson legacy project.

Given the venue, a special booklet has been produced emphasising links with members of the loyal order and the famous ship, which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg.

The publication offers an insight into some of the individuals associated with the Orange family who lost their lives during the building of Titanic or perished onboard.

Among them was Thomas Andrews, 39, chief designer of the ship and managing director of Harold & Wolff. The Comber man boarded Titanic to oversee the ship’s smooth running on her voyage to America.

During the liner’s final hours, it is documented Andrews wandered the decks encouraging passengers to wear their lifebelts and to make their way to the boats.

Thomas Andrews, chief designer of the Titanic

Thomas Andrews, chief designer of the Titanic

Mr Andrews was one of the 1,517 who perished. His body was never recovered.

Although personally not a member of the institution, Thomas Andrews Junior Memorial LOL 1321 was formed in 1921 by men who worked in Harland & Wolff in tribute to the man who designed Titanic.

Thomas Morrow, from Rathfriland, boarded the ship with the intention of joining his brother in the United States.

Thomas’s third-class status immediately put him at a disadvantage when the ship began to sink as men in third class were some of the last to make it into the limited number of lifeboats carried on the ship. Just 75 of the 462 adult males in third class survived the disaster.

To commemorate the centenary of the disaster, Drumlough LOL 153 had a bannerette commissioned in 2012 to perpetuate his memory.

Belfast man, William Campbell, a joiner, was one of a small ‘guarantee group’ handpicked by Thomas Andrews to ensure the smooth running of Titanic and considered to be the elite of their particular trade or craft.

Other young Orangemen to die in the sea tragedy included junior engineer, William McReynolds, 22, and crew member James Marks, 27.

Poignantly, two relatives and members are mentioned as having lost their lives during ship construction.

Apprentice shipwright, Robert Murphy Jnr, 21, died from a fall in the shipyard in December 1910. He had only another two months left of his apprenticeship to serve.

Tragically, his father, Robert Murphy was also employed in the shipyard as rivet counter. Six months later, he was crossing a plank gangway on the Titanic when the boards suddenly parted and caved in. The Carnmoney man, 49, died as a result of his injuries.