In second of our articles associated with the 'In the Name of the Sisterhood' exhibition, we look at the contribution of Past Grand Mistress of Ireland, Margaret Drennan (1886 – 1987).
Margaret Drennan (neé Bridgett) was the eldest daughter of William Bridgett and his second wife Annie (neé Dowds). The Bridgett family was well known in Orange circles as they had a business painting banners and selling regalia. Margaret assisted in the family business, painting artwork on the banners.
Along with members of her family, Margaret was a founder member of Ireland’s First WLOL No 1 in 1912. Her mother, Annie, was first Worshipful Mistress, while Margaret was a Committee Member. In 1918, Margaret helped to establish South Belfast WLOL No 17, and was first Worshipful Mistress of the lodge. In later years she transferred to WLOL No 181.
In December 1912, she married John Drennan, Deputy District Master of Belfast District LOL No 5 (later Belfast County Grand Master). They had two sons, one of whom died at the age of 2, and three daughters before his death in October 1930.
Prior to her election as Grand Mistress of Ireland, Mrs Drennan had held the office of Deputy Grand Mistress and, since its inception in 1921, she had been the Worshipful District Mistress of Sandy Row District No 1 in Belfast.
When Mrs Drennan took over the role of Grand Mistress in 1934, there were 150 women’s lodges operating in Ireland with a total of 6000 members, of whom 3000 were in Belfast. Under her tenure, the Association of Loyal Orangewoman of Ireland reached its peak membership of c. 8,500 in 1950, although the numbers had slowly declined to c. 7,000 by the end of her stewardship in 1968.
Margaret Drennan handed over the reins of the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland in 1968 to her sister, Mrs Elizabeth McCrum (neé Bridgett).
After her retirement she moved from her home on Malone Avenue, Belfast, to Ballymacash, Lisburn. Margaret is currently the longest serving Grand Mistress. She died in 1987 at the age of 101.