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.