New exhibition highlights Orange Order’s war sacrifice

Mervyn Gibson, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange of Ireland (left), with Nigel Henderson, History Hub Ulster, at the launch of the Memorials to Sacrifice exhibition and booklet
Mervyn Gibson, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange of Ireland (left), with Nigel Henderson, History Hub Ulster, at the launch of the Memorials to Sacrifice exhibition and booklet

Orange halls that were built as memorials in the aftermath of the Great War are the subject of a new exhibition and booklet.

‘Memorials to Sacrifice’ is the latest initiative by the Museum of Orange Heritage to mark the centenary of the Armistice, and the contribution of members of the Orange Institution on the front line.

It is estimated that more than 20 halls owned or primarily used by Orange lodges were erected as memorials to Orangemen who paid the supreme sacrifice during the First World War.

Such properties, some of which were named after individual soldiers who lost their lives on duty, remain actively used by the wider community at locations across Northern Ireland, including Randalstown, Muckamore, Tullylish, Crumlin, Templepatrick, Dungannon and Ballymacarrett in east Belfast.

The detailed exhibition, which will travel across the Province, is initially on public display at Limavady’s Orange Heritage Centre until the end of November.

Research for the project was compiled by History Hub Ulster.

The accompanying booklet states: “The War Memorial Orange halls were not just erected to provide a meeting place for lodges and preceptories, they also provided a place where ex-servicemen could meet to socialise and to reminisce. They also provided a place in which the core values of the Orange Order could be presented to members of the local community.

“The halls were often built by the brethren or by ex-servicemen and often had facilities – for example, washrooms, toilets, central heating, electricity – that were still absent in many residential properties.”

Commenting on the exhibition, museum curator Jonathan Mattison said: “We are delighted to launch this educational travelling exhibition and informative booklet, which underlines the extent and contribution of Orangeism to the Great War, and its lasting legacy for local communities.”