Museum exhibition puts the Somme ‘in focus’

A photographic exhibition marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme has been unveiled at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

‘Somme 100: Commemorating the Battle’ incorporates a gallery of images taken from the museum’s ongoing Lily and the Poppy exhibition, alongside scenes of commemoration and remembrance by members of the Orange Institution throughout 2016.

Appropriately, the exhibition will be launched on the 100th anniversary of the ending of the seminal battle which epitomised the sacrifice of the First World War (18 November).

It is estimated that as many as 200,000 Orangemen from across the world served during the Great War, with many thousands seeing action at the Somme.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said: “As this centenary year of the Battle of the Somme enters its twilight weeks, we as an Institution wanted to put on public view imagery which exemplified the significance of remembrance to the Orange fraternity.

“The picture gallery highlights, very poignantly, how the Somme is engrained within the psyche of Orangeism. It underlines the selfless and remarkable contribution of our forefathers to the cause of liberty 100 years ago, as well as capturing how the Institution of today publicly marked their sacrifice.

“This exhibition is a fitting tribute to all those who fought and served on our behalf.”

The photographic display follows on from an earlier exhibition marking the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen.

‘Somme 100’ at the Museum of Orange Heritage is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

The Lily and the Poppy exhibition, commemorating the contribution of Orangemen who fought at the Battle of the Somme, runs until 19 December 2016.

Education Minister visits Museum of Orange Heritage

Stormont minister Peter Weir has endorsed the educational outreach of the Orange Institution during a visit to the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

The education minister commended the museum on its collection of informative resources, including a series of school workbooks and handling boxes.

The schoolbooks, aimed specifically at pupils at Key Stage 2 and 3 level, and community groups, provide detailed information on the Loyal Institution itself and seminal historical events, including the Glorious Revolution, the Great War and World War Two.

As well as personally viewing the workbooks and handling boxes, containing materials relating to Orangeism, the minister also enjoyed a guided tour of the museum, incorporating the interactive educational zone which facilitates school group visits.

Mr Weir said: “I am pleased to have had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Orange Heritage today and to view the facilities and educational resources on offer. I commend the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland on the educational outreach work that they are involved in. School groups, through their specific programmes, will gain an understanding of the history of the Orange Order, as well as historical events such as World War One and World War Two.”

Museum curator, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: “We were delighted to welcome Minister Weir to the Museum of Orange Heritage so he could witness for himself first-hand how education is fundamental to our many outreach initiatives.

“We trust the minister will have been impressed, not only by the museum as an educational resource, but also by our extensive literature and materials which are key components of our ongoing engagement with schools. Reaching out to pupils on a cross-community basis is serving to foster a greater understanding of Orangeism and its place within wider society.”

He added: “The Museum of Orange Heritage offers visitors, including school groups, the opportunity to learn and engage with a rich, vibrant and evolving tradition that has played a significant role in Irish, British and world history. We want to encourage everyone to visit the facility and engage with our programmes.”

For more information, or to obtain copies of the educational material, please contact the Museum of Orange Heritage on 028 9070 1122 or email