New war exhibition marks service and sacrifice

A major exhibition paying tribute to Orangemen and women who served during the First World War has opened in Belfast.

‘Service and Sacrifice’ at the Museum of Orange Heritage marks the centenary of Armistice this year and 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.

The exhibition was officially opened by David Wilsdon, whose great-uncle – David Russell – fought with the Royal Naval Division in Russia during the Great War.

It is estimated 200,000 Orangemen and women from across the world served during the First World War, with thousands seeing action at the Somme and other seminal battles. At least five Orangemen were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry, including Robert Hill Hanna from Kilkeel. Many others like Benvarden Orangeman, John Meeke, were also hailed for their outstanding bravery on the front line.

Many Orangewomen enlisted with medical and nursing units, including Jean Victor Bates, who served with the Ambulance Corps, and was recognised for her service by both the Belgian and Serbian governments.

Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Harold Henning, said the Institution was “honoured” to showcase such an exhibition, the only one of its kind marking the centenary of the Armistice.

He said: “The involvement of Orangeism across the globe to the First World War effort cannot be overstated. The selfless service and sacrifice of Orangemen and women was truly incredible; their bravery and heroism shining brightly in the darkest theatres of battle. As we mark the centenary year of the Armistice, it is right and appropriate we remember our former members locally, and right across the Commonwealth, who volunteered for the greater good.

“Indeed, their service prompted Sir Edward Carson to say on the Twelfth of July 1918: ‘I believe that throughout the whole of this war wherever Orangemen have been found they have been in the forefront of duty, ever willing to give a hand to bring about a successful conclusion to the war’”

He added: “This exhibition is an educational and historical asset regarding the Great War and the Orange contribution to it, as well as a fitting tribute to all of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: “Through this exhibition we wanted to explore the more unusual stories about Orange participation in the First World War. In this centenary year of the 1918 Armistice we wanted to demonstrate that Orangemen and women served in a variety of roles and theatres of the war. We are indebted to families across Northern Ireland, and elsewhere, who provided us with information and artefacts relating to the service of their loved ones, not only on the Western Front but as far away as Russia and Africa.

“This exhibition is the flagship endeavour as part of a series of events being held by the Orange Institution to mark the ending of the First World War. We hope it will encourage others to share their stories about participation during that awful conflict.”

‘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.

New journal highlights Orange history and heritage

A new publication which aims to highlight and preserve aspects of the Orange tradition was recently launched by the Institution.

The third volume of the Journal of Orange History, like its predecessors, aims to provide a unique platform for those researching and producing articles on aspects of Orangeism and its heritage.

The latest version, unveiled by Grand Secretary Mervyn Gibson and Gavin Robinson MP, includes articles on a number of subjects including ‘Canada and the Great War’, focusing on the involvement, service and sacrifice of Orangemen from Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War.

Other topics include a detailed feature on Captain Rev James Barbour Orr, thought to have been the most senior Orangeman to have died during the Great War. The Scotsman was killed in action while leading his men in the Ypres area in July 1917.

The Orange Order in Canterbury from 1864 to 1908, and the origins and outworkings of the Institution in Co Limerick are also examined in detail.

Historical footnotes concentrating on Orangeism in the United States of America and notable former members of the Order worldwide also feature.

Authors in the journal include Iain Carlisle, Mark Dingwall, Patrick Coleman and Quincey Dougan.

The journal is the latest educational resource to be published by the Museum of Orange Heritage. The publication is sponsored by the Friends of Schomberg House museum support group.

Writing the journal’s foreword, museum curator Jonathan Mattison, said one of the aims of the booklet is to encourage the exploration of Orange history.

“Some of this year’s articles were inspired by talks given to the Orange history club that meets in the Museum of Orange Heritage throughout the year. The club has proved a lively and interesting forum for debate and discussion.”

He added: “We are extremely grateful to the Friends of Schomberg House for again sponsoring the Journal of Orange History. This journal provides a platform to explore aspects of Orange related history and heritage as well as encouraging people to become involved in researching that history. We are also keen that new authors have the opportunity to have their work published.”

The Journal of Orange History is currently available to purchase for £3. To obtain a copy, visit the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast or telephone 028 9070 1122.

If you are interested in contributing to the winter 2018 edition, email [email protected].

Wall of Fame unveiled at Belfast museum

Orangemen and women prominent in a variety of walks of life have been inducted onto a new wall of fame.

The innovative feature at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Belfast, showcases upwards of 70 individuals who have exceeded in their chosen field since the formation of the Institution in 1795.

It includes former prime ministers and statesmen; entrepreneurs; war heroes; missionaries; sports personalities and explorers.

Pronounced figures among the stairwell of portraits are Sir Mackenzie Bowell (prime minister of Canada 1894-96); Rev Dr Rutledge Kane (minister and Gaelic language enthusiast 1841-1898); James Craig (first prime minister of Northern Ireland (1921-40); Dr Thomas J. Barnardo (founder of the children’s charity (1845-1905); Robert Quigg (First World War Victoria Cross recipient) and Alan Campbell (Olympic rower and bronze medallist).

Other sporting personalities to be displayed include football legend George Best and Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey. John Houlding, founder of Liverpool Football Club, is also featured.

Unionist politicians are prevalent on the wall with leading figures such as Sir Edward Carson, Ian Paisley and Jim Molyneaux joining former prime ministers, John Millar Andrews, Viscount Brookeborough, Terence O’Neill, James Chichester-Clark and Brian Faulkner.

The Order’s military heritage is also underlined with Kilkeel’s Robert Hill-Hanna, awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917, among seven such recipients and others, along with Eric Glass, the most highly decorated member of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Bill Greer, who was driving J.F Kennedy’s limousine when the former US president was assassinated; celebrated musician Richard Hayward; and one of Northern Ireland’s leading business figures, William Wright, are other notable figures to gain recognition.

They join three ladies – Jean Bates (Queen Elizabeth medal recipient), Nancy Riach (swimmer) and Alicia Dickson-Hamilton (world champion drum major) – on public display at the outreach facility.

Museum curator Jonathan Mattison maintained the wall of fame was an appropriate tribute, serving to recognise members of the Institution who have excelled, and continue to do so, in wider society and further afield.

He said: “We are delighted to have installed our much-expanded graphic display of significant Orangemen and women. Down through the centuries, members have been involved in much more than meeting in their Orange halls or taking part in processions. They have been at the forefront of a variety of endeavours serving their respective communities around the world.

“Their lives, actions, and continued achievements, allow us to dispel some of the myths about the Loyal Orange Institution down through the centuries.

“This display will greatly enhance our offering at the Museum of Orange Heritage and, in this particular case, every picture really does tell a story of a thousand words.”

The Cregagh Road museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

 

Café at the Museum brewing up for business

A new coffee shop has opened at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast, creating three jobs.

Café at the Museum, an independently run establishment, offers a wide-ranging menu, incorporating hot food, sandwiches and beverages.

The stylish Cregagh Road restaurant is an expansion of the existing catering business of Gillian Harper, who manages a separate eatery, WhereYaBean, on the city’s Saintfield Road. It employs six staff.

Miss Harper said: “We are delighted to offer a new social hub in east Belfast where visitors to the museum at Schomberg House, local residents and the wider public, can take a break and unwind.

“Customers are assured of high quality food with our varied and appetising menu; and just as importantly, a warm welcome. As well as complimentary wi-fi, we also provide outside catering for meetings and events.”

Café at the Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm.

 

The sash a former prime minister wore

A collarette once worn by a former prime minister of Northern Ireland has gone on display at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Belfast.

The Orange sash, belonging to John M. Andrews, was purchased in a recent public auction and donated to the outreach facility.

Mr Andrews was the province’s second prime minister following partition, serving as premier between 1940 and 1943.

The Comber native, who succeeded James Craig in the role, was also the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.

Throughout his life, the former MP was deeply involved in the Orange Order; serving as Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland from 1948 to 1954. He previously held the position of County Down Grand Master and was appointed as Imperial Grand Master of the Grand Orange Council of the World.

Mr Andrews’ younger brother, Thomas, died in the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, and was managing director of the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

The collarette was acquired by the trustees of the Orange heritage centre in Limavady. It will now be showcased alongside other Loyal Order regalia, including collarettes belonging to another former Northern Ireland prime minister, Terence O’Neill, and local football legend, George Best, among others.

Trustee Aaron Callan said they were delighted to loan the artefact to the Belfast museum.

He said: “We believe that promoting and protecting our heritage is an important part of the Orange Order’s work. With the centenary of Northern Ireland coming in 2021 we wanted to make sure items of great historical importance relating to the anniversary are displayed as part of the celebrations.”

Museum curator Jonathan Mattison said: “This has been a very significant purchase for the Orange family. J.M. Andrews was the second prime minister of Northern Ireland and would go on to become Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. We are extremely grateful to the trustees of Limavady Orange heritage centre for placing this item with us on display.

“As Northern Ireland moves towards celebrating its first 100 years this will be a very interesting item to have on display in the museum, alongside other items associated with the political history of Northern Ireland.”

Belfast’s Museum of Orange Heritage displays a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism across the world.

The Cregagh Road museum is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Jacobite sword goes on display at Loughgall museum

An historic sword once belonging to a senior Catholic Jacobite soldier, who fought against King William at the Battle of the Boyne, has gone on public display at the birthplace of Orangeism.

The artefact, over 300-years-old, was owned by Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan, who played a prominent role in the Williamite war in Ireland and the Siege of Limerick in 1690.

The sword is the latest addition to the collection of the Museum of Orange Heritage in Loughgall.

Belonging to an Anglo-Norman family long settled in Ireland, Sarsfield accompanied James to Ireland in 1689 and served in the Jacobite Irish Army. He became one of the celebrated Jacobite leaders of the war, noted in particular for Sarsfield’s Raid shortly before the Siege of Limerick. James rewarded him by making him an Earl in the Peerage of Ireland.

After the war’s end following a second siege of Limerick in 1691, he led the Flight of the Wild Geese which took thousands of Irish soldiers into exile in France where they continued to serve James. Sarsfield latterly served in Flanders and was killed at the Battle of Landen in 1693.

Co Armagh Grand Master Denis Watson said obtaining Sarsfield’s sword was a “tremendous acquisition” for the Orange museum at Sloan’s House.

He said: “The County Grand Lodge of Armagh is the proud custodian of a significant number of items relating to the early history of Orangeism. This Jacobite artefact is a major addition to our growing collection which belonged to or date to the period of William of Orange. It is tremendous to have an artefact from the period of the Boyne, relating to a leading figure from the other side of the contest between the two kings.”

In recent weeks, the Loughgall facility received a four-star visitor experience award from Tourism Northern Ireland.

Mr Watson added: “Our latest prominent exhibit underlines the growing quality of our museum, which aims to educate and create a great understanding about the origins of Orangeism, and its importance within our shared history.”

The Loughgall museum officially opened in 2015 as part of the REACH Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage), which received £3.6 million from the EU’s PEACE III programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The refurbishment of Sloan’s House – where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago – included a major extension to cater for additional museum exhibition areas and provision of detailed information relating to the early history of the Orange Order. The expansion incorporates a display of the original Sloan’s Parlour, illustrated in a similar way it would have looked when the Institution was first formed in 1795.

Four-star tourism rating for Armagh museum

The Museum of Orange Heritage in Co Armagh has been presented with a prestigious four-star visitor experience award.

The Loughgall facility at Sloan’s House – recognised as the birthplace of Orangeism – received the official acknowledgement from Tourism Northern Ireland.

Tourism NI’s independent grading scheme awards tourist facilities and services with a one to five-star rating to indicate the level of quality a visitor can expect when visiting an attraction or activity. The four-star rating means visitors to the Orange museum can expect to enjoy an ‘excellent’ overall experience.

The accolade comes following the historic visit to the Co Armagh site by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales last year.

County Armagh Grand Master Denis Watson hailed the four-star award as an “outstanding achievement” for the volunteer-led facility.

“This recognition from Tourism NI is a wonderful reward not only for the museum, but for all those involved in its everyday operation,” he said.

“I would like to express my gratitude to all the members of the management committee and our volunteers who have helped the Museum of Orange Heritage achieve so much in our first two years of operation. To secure a four-star visitor experience grade demonstrates the exceptional quality of our museum, and we will seek to build on such positive customer feedback in the days ahead.”

Mr Watson also thanked Tourism NI for the award and recognition.

Congratulating the Museum on its award, Caroline Adams, Tourism NI Quality and Standards Manager said: “Tourism NI is pleased to award the Museum of Orange Heritage a four-star grading which reflects very high standards across the attraction, from customer care, the quality of the exhibits and provision of food and drink to the excellent visitor information and the friendly welcome provided by staff, many of whom are volunteers. I have no doubt that the museum will play an important part in the local tourism economy helping to attract an increasing number of visitors and encouraging them to stay longer and spend more.”

The Loughgall museum officially opened in June 2015 as part of the REACH Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage), which received £3.6 million from the EU’s PEACE III programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The refurbishment of Sloan’s House – where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago – included a major extension to cater for additional museum exhibition areas and provision of detailed information relating to the early history of the Orange Order. The expansion incorporates a display of the original Sloan’s Parlour, illustrated in a similar way it would have looked when the Institution was first formed in 1795.

The modern development in the quaint village also contains office space, ancillary accommodation and a coffee shop. An adjoining garden of remembrance pays tribute to 68 Orangemen from the county who were murdered by terrorists during the Troubles.

The museum aims to promote shared space and greater levels of reconciliation through education, and is part of a joint outreach project with the Institution’s larger museum in Belfast, which also opened two years ago.

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.

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