Christmas at Sloan’s House

A large crowd attended at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Sloan’s House, Loughgall, on Saturday afternoon, 7 December, for ‘Christmas at the Museum’.

The Mid-Armagh Community Network Ulster-Scots Fiddle Orchestra performed a shortened version of the traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols.

It was a great afternoon, with an appreciative audience listening to the centuries old story in words and music of the birth of the baby Jesus. At the conclusion, all were treated to refreshments provided by Sloan’s Coffee Shop and a retiring collection was taken for charity.

The Museum Directors wish to thank the orchestra for coming along and reminding everyone present of the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas at the Museum

The Museum of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House recently hosted a successful Christmas at the Museum event.

Guests were treated to musical entertainment, a tour of the museum and, of course, festive refreshments.

Teddy bear festival to showcase Bible stories

If you go to the Orange Order’s museum next month, you’re sure of a big surprise.

That is because the Institution is hosting a Teddy Bear Bible Festival at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Belfast, to coincide with Easter.

Aimed particularly at families and younger people, a number of well-known Bible stories will be illustrated using teddy bears, and made amenable to the wider public.

During the Easter holidays, two craft days will also be hosted for children.

Over the past few months, following an appeal, Orangemen and members of the wider public have donated teddy bears for use in the unique display. At the conclusion of the festival, the furry characters will be donated to charity.

Speaking ahead of the event, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Rev Mervyn Gibson, said: “Easter is a special time in the Christian calendar. We want to use the Teddy Bear Bible Festival to encourage everyone, but especially young people and families, to learn more about Bible and the powerful and liberating message of the Easter story. We thank all those who donated teddy bears as part of this unique witness.

“A number of well-known Bible stories will be recreated as part of the display and there will be associated art and craft activities for children. We hope that all attending the event will take the opportunity, especially at Easter, to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives.”

The teddy bear festival is the latest initiative organised by the Museum of Orange Heritage in its ongoing programme of events.

Earlier this year, the Cregagh Road museum opened its ongoing ‘Through the Eye of a Needle’ exhibition examining the material culture of Orangeism.

A variety of sashes, collarettes, tablecloths and handkerchiefs are among the many items on public display, which will run until May.

In June, in its major exhibition of 2019, the museum will launch ‘For Singing and For Dancing’ which will focus on the music, poetry and ballad traditions of the Orange family.

The Teddy Bear Bible Festival will run from 10 – 27 April 2019. The craft days will be held on Wednesday 17 and Tuesday 23 April. For more information, contact the museum on 028 9070 1122 or email


Museum appeal to Ulster’s marching bands

As part of its major exhibition in 2019, the Museum of Orange Heritage would like to highlight the role and importance of the marching bands community in Ulster.

To this end, the Orange Institution is appealing for information about all individual bands, from all genres, across Northern Ireland and the border counties.

Such content will form an integral part of the wider ‘For Singing and For Dancing’ exhibition at Schomberg House, Belfast, opening this summer; focusing on the music, poetry and ballad traditions of the Orange family.

To ensure that the museum includes as many marching bands as possible, it is requesting the following information: name of band, type of band, date of formation and a brief history.

As part of the appeal, it would also be most beneficial to include any archive or current photographs of the respective band.

Please email all information and images to; or alternatively, contact the museum on 028 9070 1122.

All submissions will be acknowledged, and the content used solely for educational and display purposes.

Exhibition looking through the eye of a needle

The rich material culture of Orangeism is the focus of a new exhibition.

A variety of sashes, collarettes, tablecloths and handkerchiefs are among the many items on public display at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

One of the exhibition centre pieces is a damask linen tablecloth, owned by King William III, which has been on display in the museum since it opened in 2015. Presented to William, this remarkable item was made to commemorate William’s victory at the city of Grave in 1674 and helps reveal the story of the European power struggle that set the background context for the Williamite Wars.

Orangeism has a material culture tradition dating back to before the formal creation of the Orange Institution in September 1795. Regalia, banners, keep sakes and flags have long been a feature of this tradition, with many early items embodying the message and symbolism of the Glorious Revolution.

Through its latest temporary exhibition, the museum aims to highlight aspects of the tradition it holds in its collection, allowing visitors to see for themselves how such materials were made and used in the past.

Museum of Orange Heritage curator, Jonathan Mattison, said: “We want to highlight the diverse nature of early Orange regalia, explain how it was made and the symbolism that is on display.

“We have a wide variety of textile items in our collection from sashes to banners, and everything in between. We want to use this exhibition and the associated workshops to help people explore this aspect of the Orange tradition.”

The Belfast exhibition, entitled ‘Through the Eye of a Needle’, runs until May 2019. Two textile-based craft workshops will be held on Saturday February 9 and Saturday March 9. For more information on these interactive events, call 028 9070 1122 or email


New exhibition highlights Orange war sacrifice

Orange halls, 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 marking the centenary of the Armistice, and the contribution of members of the Orange Institution on the front line.

It is estimated upwards of 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 remain actively used by the Institution 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.”

A number of the halls were named after individual soldiers who lost their lives on duty, including the Uprichard Memorial hall in Tullylish, Co Down.

It was formally opened in 1928 in memory of four members of Rising Star of Tullylish LOL 2020 who died during the Great War, one of whom was Major Henry Uprichard. The senior serviceman of the 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme.

Another property featured is the Lord Northland Memorial Orange hall in Dungannon. It was built in memory of local war hero, Captain Thomas Knox, Viscount Northland, who served with 2nd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. He was also the Commanding Officer of the Dungannon Battalion of the Tyrone Regiment UVF. The Orangeman died in February 1915 of wounds received at La Bassee, France.

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.

“This display appropriately touches on the theme of remembrance and commemoration, and supports our ongoing Service and Sacrifice exhibition in marking the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.”

For more information on ‘Memorials to Sacrifice’, contact the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.


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.


History to come alive as museum hosts Boyne Day

Boyne Day returns to the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast this weekend.

On Saturday, the outreach facility will be a hive of activity for the family orientated event, with information and activities exploring the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and its legacy.

Costumes and weapons will be brought to life through the recreation of a period camp, with living history performers. Children can also avail of various art and craft activities.

In addition, visitors on the day will be able to get their picture taken with a notable artefact from the period, currently on temporary loan at the museum. A military halberd, or a shortened pike, thought to have been used as a weapon during the Boyne battle 328 years ago, will be made available to the general public.

Other pieces on display in the museum gallery relating to the Glorious Revolution, include a Boyne musket and a bayonet, among many other pertinent items.

Curator, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said following the success of the inaugural Boyne Day last summer, the event was now an integral component of the museum’s interaction with the wider community.

He said: “Boyne Day is our way of bringing the legacy of the Battle of the Boyne to life. This was one of the most seminal battles and indeed moments in the history of the British Isles and was integral to the Glorious Revolution.

“As the tourist sector grows in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, it is important that we increase knowledge and understanding about the Williamite Trail in Ireland and its impact on our shared history.”

Visitors to the museum will also have the opportunity to view the ongoing ‘Service and Sacrifice’ exhibition marking the centenary of the end of the First World War this year. The impressive display chronicles the remarkable personal stories of individuals associated with the Loyal Institutions who enlisted for King and country 100 years ago.

Boyne Day takes place on Saturday August 18 from 10.30am to 3.30pm. Admission is free for children under 16. Entry for adults costs £3, including free admission to the museum. For more information, contact the Museum of Orange Heritage on 028 9070 1122, or visit

Boyne blade fit for two kings goes on public display

An historic bayonet exemplifying the complexities of the Williamite War in Ireland has gone on public display at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

The late 17th Century blade is thought to have been originally owned by a Jacobite soldier, who subsequently switched forces before the Battle of the Boyne to fight under the command of King William.

The weapon is the latest addition to the Orange Order museum’s impressive collection dating to the Glorious Revolution.

Museum curator, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said the item was a “fine example” of a typical British Army plug bayonet from the period.

Explaining the uniqueness of the artefact, he said: “The markings on the hilt and guard make reference to ‘Albany’, which in all likelihood means that this item belonged to a soldier serving with the regiment that was raised by James II prior to his becoming King in 1685.

“The markings on the lower section of the blade indicate that some, if not all, of the regiment switched sides at the beginning of the Glorious Revolution and the Williamite and Jacobite War in Ireland. This change of allegiance makes the piece quite interesting as it reflects the fact that many soldiers and regiments, who had been serving together prior to 1688, ended up fighting on rival sides during the war in Ireland.

“The soldier who used this weapon may have been conscious that the regiment had originally been loyal to James Stuart so etched WR and 1689 on the blade to show his support for the Glorious Revolution and the Constitutional change that had just taken place.”

Mr Mattison said the blade was an “interesting and valuable” piece, and confirmed it was now appropriately on display with a Dragoon carbine that saw action in the war with the Jacobite Forces.

He added: “It allows us to highlight not only the practical side of late 17th Century warfare, but also the complexities of the armies fighting on either side. In 1685 this soldier had been loyal to King James II. By 1689 he was very publicly showing his loyalty for the new constitutional settlement and the enthronement of King William III and Queen Mary II.”

The bayonet unveiling comes ahead of Boyne Day which returns to the Belfast museum next month.

The family event, on Saturday August 18, will incorporate living history displays, children’s arts and crafts, and other activities highlighting the Battle of the Boyne and its legacy.

Running from 10.30am to 3pm, admission for adults to the museum is at the reduced rate of £3. Entry is free to children under 16.

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