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.

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.

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