A Bite-Sized History of Irish Orangeism

The Loyal Orange Institution was formed after the ‘Battle of the Diamond’ in 1795. The ‘Battle’ was a clash between a Roman Catholic agrarian secret society, known as the ‘Defenders’ and Protestants living in the Winter Family settlement at the Diamond outside Loughgall. After the clash the victorious Protestants decide to form one organisation that would protect and defend them as well as the Reformed Faith – the Orange Institution was born.

1688-1691 – The Glorious Revolution:
Orangeism celebrates and commemorates the Glorious Revolution and the building blocks of Constitutional Democracy that were secured at this time. The Glorious Revolution may have been a political revolution at Westminster but it was secured in Ireland through war. The Siege of Londonderry, the Battles of Newtownbutler, the Boyne and Aughrim have a significant place in the traditions of the Institution.

1795 – The Battle of the Diamond:
Clashes between secret agrarian societies in Armagh and Tyrone culminate in the ‘Battle of the Diamond’. The Roman Catholic ‘Defenders’ are defeated and the victorious Protestants form the Orange Order.

1798 – Establishment of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland:
The new Orange Order spreads quickly and a national leadership called the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is formed. The Loyal Orange Institution takes on a formal shape with the establishment of Private Lodges, District Lodges and County Grand Lodges working under the Grand Lodge. It is a very democratic organisation with considerable power resting with the members of Private Lodges.
Orangemen help the Government put down the rebellion of the United Irishmen.

1825 – First Dissolution:
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is forced to dissolve as a consequence of the passing of the Unlawful Societies Act. The Act impacts a lot of groups including the Orange Order. Grand Lodge dissolves and some lodges follow. Others meet in secret or form political clubs.

1828 – Grand Lodge Reforms

1835 – Parliamentary Inquiry:
A Select Committee Inquiry into the Orange Institution in Great Britain and Ireland takes place. The Grand Lodges of England and Ireland dissolve the following year as a result of mounting pressure and the fear that the Institution will be officially banned. Many lodges ignore the Grand Lodge of Ireland and continue to operate, some forming political or ‘shooting clubs. Party Processions were also prohibited during this period.

1845 – Grand Lodge Reforms:
After the lapsing of the Party Processions Act the Grad Orange Lodge of Ireland Reforms in Enniskillen.

1849 – Dolly’s Brae:
Roman Catholic ‘Repealers’ and ‘Ribbonmen’ clash with Orangemen outside Rathfriland in County Down.

1850 – Party Processions Act Introduced:
The next 20 years witnesses a sustained campaign by the Orange Institution for the repeal of the Act which is seen as biased and draconian.

1860 – Party Emblems Act introduced:
Intended as a reinforcement of the Party Processions Act it banned the display of ‘party’ symbols.

1872 – Repeal of the Party Processions Act

1886 – 1914 – The Home Rule Crisis:
Orangemen played a crucial part in the establishment of political Unionism and in opposition to the possibility of Home Rule for Ireland.

1888 – Lord Enniskillen Memorial Orange Orphan Society is founded.

1914 – 1918 – World War I:
Thousands of Orangemen from across the world served in the Allied Forces. Many paid the supreme sacrifice.  At least 7 Orangemen were awarded the Victory Cross for bravery with others receiving recognition for brave, selfless and gallant service.

1939 – 1945 – World War II:
As in World War I thousands of Orangemen fought for freedom during the Second World War. Similar sacrifice would also be made in several theatres throughout the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries; in Korea, the Malayan Emergency, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

1969 – present – Northern Ireland:
Over 300 Orangemen have been murdered by terrorists during the course of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. In addition, over 330 arson and other attacks have taken place on Orange Halls since 1980.

1985 – Anglo-Irish Agreement:
The Orange Institution was to the forefront of opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement imposed on the people of Northern Ireland.

1990 – Tercentenary of the Battle of the Boyne

1990s – Parade & Protest Disputes:
Disputes surrounding public Orange celebrations came to a head in the mid-1990s with opposition to the annual Drumcree Orange Church parade in Portadown. The dispute remains unresolved.

2005 – Orange Community Awards:
The first annual Orange Community Awards event –the Grands – was held. The awards, still going strong celebrate Orange achievement in and contribution to the community.

2012 – 100th Anniversary of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant:
To mark the celebrations the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland organised a monster celebration in Belfast when tens of thousands of people paraded to Stormont watched by a quarter of a million people.