Museum coffee shop: Temporary closure

The coffee shop at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Belfast, is temporarily closed until further notice due to refurbishment.

The museum apologises for any inconvenience during the interim period.

The Museum of Orange Heritage will operate as normal, open to the general public, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.

Have a Boyne day out at Orange museum

The Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast will play host to Boyne Day later this month.

Next weekend, the outreach facility will be a hive of activity for the inaugural family orientated event, celebrating and highlighting the significance and relevance of the Glorious Revolution 327 years ago.

Costumes and weapons will be brought to life through the recreation of a period camp, with black powder and other weapon displays. As well as children’s craft activities, a fife and drum workshop will bring some musical input to the occasion.

Visitors will also be able to get their picture taken with one of the museum’s most significant artefacts from the period of the Glorious Revolution, a Boyne musket. The 17th century weapon was once carried by a Jacobite Dragoon and is thought to have been used during the seminal battle in 1690. The musket was acquired by the museum through a public auction two years ago.

Museum curator, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said Boyne Day was the latest initiative by the Orange Institution to educate and inform a wider audience about the shared history of the British Isles.

He said: “Through this special event at our Belfast site we hope to not only raise the profile of the Battle of the Boyne itself, but also set the historical context of the Glorious Revolution.

“As well as being a fun and enjoyable day for all the family, we believe the occasion will serve to highlight the growing cultural and tourism product associated with the Williamite trail in Northern Ireland and the Republic.”

Dr Mattison confirmed an information stand relating to the Boyne Visitor Centre in Co Meath would be available on the day.

The Boyne event takes place following a recent high-profile marketing campaign by the Museum of Orange Heritage. ‘Clash for the Throne’ depicted both King William and King James with billboards and other advertising prevalent across Greater Belfast.

The Orange museum on the Cregagh Road and at Sloan’s House, Co Armagh, both officially opened in June 2015. The interpretative centre in east Belfast displays a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism across the world, including King William’s original saddlecloth and the Paymaster General’s book of payments to the Williamite army.

The Loughgall facility focuses predominantly on the origins of the Institution, with the centrepiece being the original parlour where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago.

Boyne Day takes place on Saturday August 19 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 www.orangeheritage.co.uk.

Loyal Order museums launch joint ticket scheme

The Loyal Orders have embarked on a joint enterprise to showcase their cultural heritage and history to a wider audience.

Visitors to the Museums of Orange Heritage in both Belfast and Loughgall, and the Siege Museum in Londonderry, can now avail of a special ticket allowing them to visit all three outreach facilities for a special discounted rate.

The combined initiative between the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the Apprentice Boys will run until the end of September.

Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr Jonathan Mattison, welcomed the closer cooperation between the respective museums.

He said: “This joint ticketing initiative is a reflection of the growing cultural history product in Northern Ireland. Visitors to the three sites can learn more about the Siege of Londonderry, the birth of the Orange Institution, and also the development of the Orange Order in the British Isles and across the world.

“Creating a greater understanding of the history and traditions of the Glorious Revolution and the Loyal Orders are central to this joint venture. The Museum of Orange Heritage is delighted to play its part in collaboration with our colleagues at the Siege Museum.”

William Moore, chairman of the Siege Museum management committee, said: “The Siege Museum is very pleased to establish this partnership with our colleagues in the Museum of Orange Heritage. It has been clearly demonstrated that there is a growing interest in the cultural heritage of the Loyal Orders. Our museum has welcomed thousands of people from across the world who are eager to learn more about the Siege of Londonderry and the Apprentice Boys and we always encourage them to visit the Museum of Orange Heritage too.

“The joint tickets are a perfect way to promote these links and provide a unique and memorable experience for our audience.”

The Museum of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House, Belfast, and at Sloan’s House, Co Armagh, both opened in June 2015.

The interpretative centre in east Belfast displays a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism across the world, including King William’s original saddlecloth and the Paymaster General’s book of payments to the Williamite army.

The Loughgall facility focuses predominantly on the origins of the Institution, with the centrepiece being the original parlour where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago.

The Siege Museum, which opened in March last year, is dedicated to commemorating the history of the Siege of Londonderry and the cultural heritage of the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry. The north-west facility recently received its second visitor experience award from Tourism NI.

Joint tickets, costing £10 each, are now available from all three sites and are eligible to use at each museum until September 30, 2017.

Museum promotes ‘clash for the throne’ this summer

The summer is coming and weapons are being drawn in an epic clash for the throne.

The seminal battle between King William and King James at the Boyne in 1690, marking the Glorious Revolution, is prominently portrayed in the latest advertising campaign by the Museum of Orange Heritage.

Billboards depicting the two historical figures are already turning heads in Belfast from several vantage points across the city. Similar promotion will also be evident to commuters in County Antrim in the coming weeks, as well as on bus shelters.

Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr Jonathan Mattison, insisted Orangeism was a component part of Northern Ireland’s cultural tourism offering.

“Our Clash for the Throne marketing campaign is an innovative and contemporary take on an event of immense historical significance, which is central to our entire museum project,” he said.

“This advertising initiative underlines the commitment of the Orange Institution to outreach to the wider community. The Museum of Orange Heritage offers visitors 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. The events in Ireland between 1688 and 1691, especially at the Battle of the Boyne, would secure the Glorious Revolution and as a consequence our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

He added: “We want to encourage everyone to visit the facility and engage with our programmes. Facilitating greater understanding is vital for positive community relations and acceptance.”

The Museum of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House, Belfast, and at Sloan’s House, Co Armagh, both officially opened in June 2015. The projects received a total of £3.6 million from the EU’s PEACE III programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

The interpretative centre in east Belfast displays a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism across the world, including King William’s original saddlecloth and the Paymaster General’s book of payments to the Williamite army.

The Loughgall facility focuses predominantly on the origins of the Institution, with the centrepiece being the original parlour where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales visited Sloan’s House last year.

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.

Museum exhibition showcases Reformation legacy

A major exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation has officially opened at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

‘Staunch and True’ examines the impact and legacy of the momentous event, and its enduring relevance in terms of theology, politics and wider society.

In October 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ‘95 Theses’ on the castle door in Wittenberg in Germany – an act widely seen as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, which spread throughout Europe.

Focusing on Luther’s principle role in what was a watershed moment for Christianity, the exhibition also explores the impact of pre-1517 reformers and how figures within the Loyal Orange Institution have played their part in fanning the ‘spreading flame’.

The contribution of pre-Reformation champions such as Jan Huss and John Wycliffe are considered, as well as Orangemen in its aftermath who proclaimed the reformed faith, including Dr Thomas Barnardo, and clergymen Rev Dr Thomas Drew and the former Bishop of Connor, Cyril Elliot.

The display includes a reproduction of a 16th Century printing press, which portrays the Reformation’s importance in accessibility to the printed word.

Another notable artefact on public display is an Erasmus Greek New Testament, dated 1527.

The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, formally opened the exhibition.

He said: “As an organisation wedded to the reformed faith and based on Biblical principles, it is only natural that we should pause in this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation and celebrate, not merely the events of 1517 and the 16th Century, but the impact and legacy these events have bequeathed to the modern word.

“Our latest major exhibition provides an informative insight into the historical context of the Reformation and how its powerful legacy impacted and inspired future generations.”

Museum curator, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: “Whilst there were key figures before Martin Luther – his actions ‘burst the dam’ in terms of bedding in the Protestant Reformation. Like all revolutions 1517 was not an end in itself but has had a continuing impact on all aspects of life, not least through the creation of democratic politics and freedom of the individual.

“Staunch and True is Northern Ireland’s most significant examination of the Reformation and its enduring legacy. The Museum of Orange Heritage is delighted to play its role in commemorating such an evangelical landmark, and showcase material relating to such a seminal event to a wider audience.”

The exhibition will run at the Cregagh Road museum until the end of November 2017. The Museum of Orange Heritage is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Group bookings can be made by arrangement.

The exhibition opening comes ahead of a major rally to mark the Reformation anniversary in Co Armagh next month. Members of the Loyal Orders will take part in a procession through Portadown on Saturday 6 May, prior to a religious service at Shamrock Park. The latter is due to commence at 7.15pm.

Battle of the Boyne recited at Orange Museum

The story of the Battle of the Boyne has been brought to life at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

Drogheda-based author, Nicola Pierce, led two workshops for young people and adults at the outreach facility, reading extracts from and explaining the rationale of her latest historical novel, ‘Kings of the Boyne’. The book is a fictional account of the seminal 1690 battle of the Glorious Revolution between King William and King James.

Miss Pierce also used the context of her four novels – the sinking of the Titanic, WWII’s Battle of Stalingrad, the Siege of Derry and the Battle of the Boyne – to explain her approach to writing about history for children.

The public readings set the factual historical context of ‘Kings of the Boyne’, with the author explaining how she preferred to use real people, such as Gerald O’Connor, 19, a dutiful son and Jacobite, whose account of the battle can be found in the National Library in Dublin. For the Williamite side, she brought back the Derry brothers from her previous novel ‘Behind the Walls’, Robert and Daniel Sherrard, who were part of the original 13 apprentices who locked the four gates of Derry against a Catholic army in December 1688.

Miss Pierce expressed her appreciation to the Orange museum for hosting the event.

She said: “It was such an honour and thrill for me to be invited to speak at the museum. I’m not a historian but I love showing my way into something like the Battle of the Boyne and discussing the challenges of presenting it in a novel for younger readers. And I was really excited to see for myself King William’s letter and saddlecloth.”

Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: “Creating better understanding of all aspects of history is important, especially Irish history. Today’s event with author Nicola Pierce, is another example of how the Museum of Orange Heritage is helping the whole community understand the events of the Glorious Revolution. Nicola has written a number of historical fiction books for young people and we are delighted to have her discussing her two books about the Glorious Revolution and Williamite and Jacobite War in Ireland.”

Among the guests at Tuesday morning’s workshop was The High Sherriff of Belfast, Alderman Tom Haire.

Kings of the Boyne, published by O’Brien Press, is currently available to purchase at the Museum of Orange Heritage shop, priced at £8.

Museum ‘striking a beat’ with Lambeg workshop

The iconic Lambeg drum is the feature of a series of workshops and open days this month at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Belfast.

Commencing on Saturday, drumming enthusiasts and members of the public are invited to come along to explore the traditions surrounding Ulster’s loudest musical instrument.

Over the course of three weekends, visitors to the Cregagh Road museum can learn more about the history and heritage of the Lambeg drum, and in particular its long held association with the Orange tradition.

At the workshops, members of the public will hear how the traditional instrument is both made and played.

A variety of Lambegs will be on display, including an impressive tribute drum to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Some archive film footage will also be available.

Museum curator, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: “The Lambeg drum is one of the most recognisable musical instruments associated with Ulster and Orangeism.

“The rhythms and times beaten out on the Lambeg form part of the heartbeat of the Orange tradition, and form an integral part of the colour and infectious musicality of Ulster’s cultural heritage.

“It is therefore only appropriate we showcase the sight and unmistakable sound of the Lambeg drum to a wider audience.”

While it is difficult to place an exact year on the origin of the Lambeg, Orange tradition has it they were based on the large drums brought to Ireland by King William III’s army during the Glorious Revolution.

Indeed, folklore points to the involvement of a wren and a robin as part of the creation of an Orange drumming tradition. It is said that on the morning of 1 July 1690 these two birds alighted on a drum while the Williamite army were still sleeping. The noise they made on the drum woke a young drummer boy who in turn raised the alarm that the Jacobites were planning to attack.

As Orange tradition has it, the thunder of drums was such that it ‘drove a king out of three kingdoms’.

‘Rhythm & Time – the history and heritage of the Lambeg drum’ will take place at the Museum of Orange Heritage on 14, 21, and 28 January 2017 between 11am and 2pm.

Pre-booking is required, please ring 028 9070 1122 for more information.

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 [email protected]

Boyne Obelisk stones go on display at Belfast Museum

Part of a monument erected to commemorate King William’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne is now on permanent display in Belfast, courtesy of the Museum of Orange Heritage.

Three granite stones from the iconic Boyne obelisk, built in 1736 at the site of one of the seminal events in the history of the British Isles, have been donated to the outreach facility for public viewing.

The monument, which stood on the grassy slopes of the Boyne River, was destroyed in an explosion in May 1923. It is believed the structure was blown up by republicans, using dynamite removed from an Irish army camp.

The Institution has long-held aspirations to one day see the memorial restored to its former glory at its original site.

The stones, located within the grounds of the Cregagh Road museum, were donated by the officers and members of Boyne Obelisk LOL 1690. They were formally dedicated during a short service, led by Assistant Grand Master and Grand Chaplain, Rev Mervyn Gibson.

Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: “The obelisk stones are a wonderful addition to our cultural resource, and will enhance the significant number of artefacts already in our possession in relation to the Glorious Revolution. Their uniqueness and authenticity is further enriched by the fact they are surrounded by grass which emanates from the Boyne.

“This unveiling has been long in the planning and we are indebted to the officers and members of the Boyne lodge for their generosity and foresight in facilitating this worthy process.”

He added: “This donation further underlines the museum’s status as an established repository for all Orange related history. It is extremely important such significant items are preserved for future generations, so that everyone can understand the narrative of our shared history.”

Worshipful Master of Boyne Obelisk LOL 1690, Jim Wilson, said: “We are delighted to donate these original stones to the Museum of Orange Heritage, and in so doing ensure another piece of our history is preserved for posterity.

“The stones once formed a small part of the large obelisk which stood 174 foot high at the Boyne as a memorial to the battle and the fallen. It was for a time the largest structure of its kind in Europe. All that remains today is the base and a few scattered stones of the obelisk.

“The ultimate aim of the lodge remains to restore the original obelisk and we will strive to achieve our goal, as a lasting tribute for future generations.”

The Belfast museum, which officially opened last summer, displays a wealth of items and artefacts relating to Orange history across the world. A sister facility, focusing on the origins of Orangeism, is located at Sloan’s House in Loughgall, Co Armagh.

An exhibition commemorating the sacrifice of Orangemen who fought at the Battle of the Somme is currently ongoing at the Institution’s headquarters.

The Museum of Orange Heritage is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. For group bookings, please contact 028 9070 1122.

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