Monthly Archives: January 2019

Raise Money for your Lodge, Preceptory or Band

Raise Money for your Lodge, Preceptory or Band

Need help organising an event to raise funds for your organisation?

Organising an event can take a lot of time and effort on top of everyday jobs and family life.  Portadown Heritage Tours offer FREE help to any local Loyal Orders or Bands who would like to put on an event to raise money for their organisation.

How Can We Help Raise Money?

With most Loyal Order Organisations only meeting once a month, this can prove difficult when it comes to finalising plans, we are here to make the process a lot easier.  We can take you through the process of planning the event.  There is a wide range of events to choose from with small event ideas right through to larger ones.  We can help in a range of ways, from something as small as producing fundraising sheets to following up on bookings for larger events.  This is a FREE service we offer, so all money raised will go to your organisation.

Event Ideas and Organising

We offer a range of services to help organise your event.  These services include event ideas, idea consultation with your organisation, free design and print of marketing material, social media marketing campaign, full organisation of the event, voluntary services to help run the event and even something as simple as producing fund-raising sheets.

Fundraising information packs are available from the Portadown Heritage Tours Office.  Within these packs there are a range of event ideas, so even if you don’t need our help directly they can still offer some assistance for ideas.

Contact us

If you would like a pack then you can contact the office on 028 38332010, email or search ‘Portadown Heritage Tours’ on Facebook and send us a private message.

Our priority will be Lodges etc within Portadown District, but if your Lodge etc is within County Armagh then we will also certainly help.


Remembering the Holocaust: An experience of visiting Auschwitz

Remembering the Holocaust: An experience of visiting Auschwitz

Today marks Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Holocaust


Between 1941 and 1945, six million Jewish men, women and children were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.  Their attempt to murder all the Jews in Europe, shook the foundation of civilisation.  From the time they assumed power in Germany in 1933, the Nazis used propaganda, persecution and legislation to deny humans and civil rights to German Jews.  Antisemitism was used as their foundation.

With the Outbreak of World War Two in 1939 Germany invaded Poland, subjecting around Two Million Polish Jews to violence and forced labour.  Thousands of Jews were murdered in the first few months of the occupation.  Polish Jews were confined to particular neighbourhoods that came to be known as ‘Ghettos’, were living conditions were inhumane and another attempt by the Nazis to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

In 1941, the systematic murder of Europe’s Jews began, a plan known by the Nazis as ‘The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem’.  Death squads called Einsatzgruppen spread through Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, killing Jews by firing squad.  By the end of 1941 the first extermination camp had been established.  This gave the Nazis their method to continue murdering on a mass scale between 1941 and 1945.

Nazi Persecution

The Nazis targeted anyone they believed threatened their ideal of a ‘pure Aryan race’.  The Nazis believed Aryan people were superior to all others.  Their devotion to racial purity and their opposition to racial mixing partly explains their hatred towards not just Jews but also Roma and Sinti people and also Black people and Slavic people.  The Nazis wanted to improve the genetic makeup of the population and persecuted people they deemed to be disabled (mentally and physically), gay people, political opponents, primarily communists, trade unionists and social democrats, as well as those religious beliefs that conflicted with Nazi ideology, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Visiting Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau

As you come to the famous archway, entering the concentration camp, you are met with the famous words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’- Work will set you free.  Upon entering the camp, straightaway you are met with a deadly silence.  There could be hundreds of visitors in the camp at any one time but the silence is prominent.  The guide will talk you through the history and slaughter via headsets and take you into each of the buildings which display evidence of the horrors.

People who are intending to visit have asked me what do they prepare themselves most for seeing? Honestly, all of it.  Within the buildings you’ll witness everything from a pile of human hair to a pile of everyday kitchen utensils, and I can’t describe in words just how big those piles are, there are hundreds of thousands of items in each pile.  The victims being brought to these camps took all the possessions they could- they had no idea what they were being brought too.

The one thing that gave me an absolutely sick feeling to my stomach was the thousands of suitcases and luggage.  The victims had been told to write their names and addresses on their luggage, so it could be returned to them.  At that point you realise the severity of the mental games that these people were put under.  By being instructed to do something so small would have enlightened hope into many of them.  Each possession and belonging in those buildings is all that is left of those people and their story.

At the end of the tour you are brought through one of the gas chambers and also a room where the ovens are.  The atmosphere of the chamber and that room cannot be described in words.  The feelings and emotions that hit you when walking through are felt differently by everyone.

Birkenau camp is no different.  When you walk along the train tracks and stand in the place were peoples fates were decided there and then, your mind will struggle to take it all in.

At the top of the camp is the remnants of where the gas chambers were ( the Nazis tried to blow them up as they left), the guide will tell stories of escape attempts and the absolute bravery showed by people at different attempts to over power the Nazis.

When you walk through the buildings you will see the sleeping arrangements and hear of the conditions that the victims had to live in.  Inside those buildings you will see names scratched into the walls and wood.

These camps are somewhere that everyone should visit at least once in their life.  It is an experience that cannot be fully explained in words. Even when you come home, it is a place that will drift into your thoughts daily and weekly.  I certainly didn’t feel the full impact of the visit until I was home. The only time I have experienced a feeling close to it, was visiting the Western Front in France and Belgium.

The guides who take you around are fantastic and treat each tour with an absolute respect, each of them have their own family story to tell of the persecution of the Nazis or family that was murdered in the concentration camps.

They make the whole experience very personal and convey the feelings of the victims. For many years after the camps first opened to visitors after the war, it was survivors of the concentration camp that brought them around and told their story.  I was blown away by this, to find the strength to do that and come back to a place were you were mentally and physically tortured everyday.  But the determination to get their story across was greater.

Of course now the guides are generations after them, but you can see the same philosophy is still very much in place.  As a tour guide, personally, I cannot imagine what it must be like to tell the story of these camps daily to visitors.

Krakow Walking Tour and Schindler’s Factory

If you are based in Krakow while staying in Poland, then I highly recommend doing the walking tour which takes in the Jewish Quarter.  It is a brilliant opportunity to hear what life was like pre war days and also an opportunity to see inside some beautiful synagogues.

Memorial in the Jewish Quarter to the Jews murdered.

It is also an opportunity to see what was the Jewish Ghetto and the guide will provide a historical background into the timeline which led to the Ghetto.  Within the tour you will hear the the personal stories about the inhumane conditions of the Ghetto.  You can also see the ‘Krakow Chairs’.  These are located in the Ghetto Heroes square, there are 33 memorial chairs of iron and bronze.  The chairs symbolise the tragedy of the Polish Jews in Krakow who were imprisoned in the Krakow Ghetto.

Schindler’s Factory, is a must see as well.  I recommend watching the film before you go. A visit to the factory really helps to bring together the whole history surrounding the Nazis and the Holocaust victims.  The Museum is really well led out and you can literally walk a timeline of events that is brought together clearly during your visit.

Significance of the Saunderson’s and the Orange Institution

Significance of the Saunderson’s and the Orange Institution

Helena de Moleyns was the daughter of Thomas Townsend Aremberg de Moleyns, 3rd Baron Ventry, and married Colonel Edward Saunderson on 22nd June 1865.  They had four sons and one daughter.

Helena Emily de Moleyns who was born in 1842, was a significant figure within the The Orange Women’s Association.

In 1887, following the first Home Rule Crisis, an association of Loyal Orangewomen was established in Ireland by the Hon Helena de Moleyns.

The association was formed when a number of women with strong unionist views formed themselves into a body to work together for the promotion of Protestantism and the defence of the Union.

The Association was authorised by the Grand Lodge of Ireland in December 1887 and it flourished for a short time but eventually ceased to function. The Orange Women’s Association was revived in 1911.

Helena Emily Saunderson (nee de Moleyns) died on 17th January 1926.


Colonel Edward Saunderson : Prominent Irish Unionist Politician

Saunderson was born at Castle Saunderson in County Cavan and inherited his father’s Cavan estates following his death in 1857.  He led the Irish Unionist Party between 1891 and 1906.  Saunderson was first elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as the Palmerstonian Liberal member for Cavan in 1865.  In 1868, he became a Conservative.

Saunderson lost his seat to the Home Rule League Candidates at the 1874 general election.  In 1885 he stood again for the Parliament and was elected as a Conservative for the North Armagh Constituency.

By this time, he had become a prominent figure in the Orange Order and in the Unionist Political Movement.  In March 1893, Saunderson was one of the signatories of the manifesto of the Ulster Defence Union, launched to organise  resistance to the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893.  He also served as Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for Cavan, and was High Sheriff of Cavan in 1859. Saunderson entered the Cavan militia (4th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers) in 1862, and was made a major in 1875.  He became a Colonel in 1886 and was in command of the battalion from 1891 to 1893. Brother Saunderson served as the County Grand Master of Belfast from 1901 to 1903.

Saunderson became known for his speeches in the House of Commons.

“No man who comes to Belfast will laugh at the Ulster Loyalists. When all is said and done, whether or not the House of Lords rejects this Bill, I say in the name of my people I reject it. You may occupy the House of Commons for years to come with academic debates about the merits of this Home Rule Bill but I say in their name I reject it …. Home Rule may pass this House but it will never pass the bridge at Portadown”.

He died of pneumonia in 1906 and a statue, subscribed for by the public, was unveiled at Portadown in 1910