Delving into WW1 history at the roll of a dice

Players of a novel board game highlighting the contribution of Orangeism to the Great War are plotting their next move ahead of the Armistice centenary.

The innovative and interactive educational resource is one of the highlights of the ongoing ‘Service and Sacrifice’ exhibition at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

Visitors to the outreach facility, including schoolchildren, can participate in the board game as World War One soldiers; navigating their way, at the roll of a dice, through seminal battles of the Great War, learning interesting facts and anecdotes from the front line 100 years ago.

All the time players are being informed of military history and the Institution’s contribution to the war effort; picking up significant details, such as when the first tanks were used, and the first gas attack took place, among other information.

Museum curator Jonathan Mattison said the board game has been well received by members of the public.

“It was designed as a unique way in which young and old could engage with aspects of history from the Great War,” he said.

“Incorporating elements of the Orange service and sacrifice, during the conflict, the board game allows participants, especially young people to engage with history through a non-traditional learning format.

“In the Museum of Orange Heritage, we have created a balance between established methods of learning and new technology. Interactives provide a useful addition to such an environment.

He added: “In this age of technology, it is also productive to include other ways of encouraging education through participation, and this is why we developed our table top board game.”

As a worldwide organisation, it is estimated as many as 200,000 Orangemen and women enlisted in the Armed Forces or the various medical and nursing units.

The wider museum exhibition, which was launched earlier this year, marks not only the centenary of the Armistice, but also chronicles the remarkable personal stories of individuals associated with the Loyal Institutions who enlisted for King and country.

A number of significant items relating specifically to Orangemen who served with the 36th Ulster Division and other regiments from the period feature in the exhibition, as well as a number of battlefield incidentals and other artefacts.

Among the exhibits is a replica of a Royal Naval Armoured Car – ‘The Ulster’ – which was deployed on the Western Front in 1915. The display also features a walk-through imitation World War One trench.

Service and Sacrifice’ runs at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Cregagh Road, Belfast until 15 December 2018. Opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. For group bookings, please contact 028 9070 1122.

Five-star visitor rating for Belfast museum

The Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast has been officially recognised for its quality of service.

The Orange Institution’s main outreach facility was recently presented with a certificate of excellence by the online travelling review site, TripAdvisor, based on the positive reviews by visitors.

To qualify for such a commendation, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four out of five. The Orange museum currently has a five-star rating.

Museum curator Jonathan Mattison hailed the award as a “fantastic achievement”.

He said: “This recognition from TripAdvisor is a wonderful reward not only for the museum, but for all the staff involved in its everyday operation.

“Since opening in 2015, we have been delighted to welcome thousands of visitors from not only Northern Ireland, but also the rest of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and from across the world.

“To secure a certificate of excellence demonstrates the high standards of our museum, and we will seek to build on such positive customer feedback in the days ahead.”

TripAdvisor spokesperson Hayley Coleman said: “TripAdvisor is pleased to honour exceptional hospitality businesses that have received consistent praise and recognition by travellers on the site.

“By putting a spotlight on businesses that are focused on delivering great service to customers, TripAdvisor not only helps drive an improvement to hospitality standards around the world, it also gives businesses both large and small the ability to shine and stand out from the competition.”

The museum at Schomberg House displays a wealth of items relating to the history of Orangeism across the world.

Artefacts include King William’s original saddlecloth from the Battle of the Boyne and the Paymaster General’s book of payments to the Williamite army.

The east Belfast interpretative centre is currently hosting the ‘Service and Sacrifice’ exhibition, marking the centenary of the Armistice and paying tribute to Orangemen and women who served during the First World War.

Last year, the Museum of Orange Heritage in Co Armagh was also presented with a prestigious four-star visitor experience award.

Sloan’s House in Loughgall, recognised as the birthplace of Orangeism, received the official acknowledgement from Tourism Northern Ireland.

The Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. The Loughgall museum is open from 10am to 4pm.