Lodge Life: Valentine’s appeal for Orange hall romance

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On Valentine’s Day, the Museum of Orange Heritage has launched an appeal for couples who found love in an Orange hall.

There has been a long-held tradition of dances and soirees being held at Orange halls across Northern Ireland, and the border counties.

Many would-be husbands and wives met for the first time at such social gatherings, forming relationships which have lasted to this day.

Now, the Orange Institution wishes to hear from such couples who would be happy to share their love stories. We would be keen to see any photos and film of such dances and gatherings.

Such content could form a part of a major new exhibition later this year focusing on the music, poetry and ballad tradition of the Orange family. ‘For Singing and For Dancing’ will be an exhibition at Schomberg House, exploring the musical heritage of Orangeism.

Museum curator, Jonathan Mattison, urged relevant couples to come forward, and disclose how their relationships first blossomed in the confines of an Orange hall.

“This is a unique appeal but one which we hope will pull at the heartstrings of many couples across the Orange family,” he said.

“Several decades ago many Orange halls, even in the most rural areas, were transformed into ‘ballrooms of romance’, particularly at weekends, as members of local communities enjoyed specially arranged dances. Such an environment allowed young people to socialise, meet a girlfriend or boyfriend and subsequently marry.”

He added: “We would very much like to hear from such couples, or their families – maybe your mum and dad, or granny and grandad met at an Orange hall dance. Please let us know.”

If you, or your family, can assist this appeal, please contact the Museum of Orange Heritage, Belfast, on 028 9070 1122 or email romance@orangeheritage.co.uk.