Category Archives: Home Rule

‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival Success

‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival Success

‘Our Loyalty is Not For Barter’

Portadown Heritage Tours hosted a very successful Orange Heritage Week in Carleton Street Orange Hall with ‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival.  The name of the Festival was taken from a quote in a letter that Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Ward William Blacker sent to the men of Seagoe Parish in the town on 4th September 1914.  Edward Carson first used the quote during a speech in Belfast a few days before.  The festival of events explored the transition of the 4thPortadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force into the 9thBattalion Royal Irish Fusiliers and their journey from enlisting at Carleton Street Orange Hall to fighting for King and Country.

Service of Remembrance

The Festival was officially launched on Monday 23rdSeptember with a Drumhead Service of Remembrance.  A plaque was unveiled by Grand Master Edward Stevenson, in memory of the men of the 4thPortadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force who enlisted into the 9thBattalion Royal Irish Fusiliers in Carleton Street Orange Hall in September 1914.

 

Exhibitions on Display

Every room in Carleton Street Orange Hall was transformed into a different exhibition.  Exhibitions included a Recruitment Office, Field Hospital, The story of Portadown men on the Western Front; which included personal stories and letters that had been sent home, Memorials to Sacrifice, The Blacker and Shillington families of Portadown, Women and the First World War; including Portadown Women’s Unionist Association and the members who went on to form the first Women’s Orange Lodges in the town between 1921 and 1923, The Home Rule Crisis, Unionist Clubs, Formation of the Ulster and Irish Volunteers and the story of the 36thUlster Division and the 16thIrish Division together at Messines in 1917 and also Portadown’s Memorial Arches.

 

Talks and Presentations

It was a busy week with living history displays and talks also taking place.  Mrs Carol Walker from the Somme Association delivered an excellent presentation and talk on the suffragettes and the role of women in the First World War.  Also, local Historian, Richard Edgar delivered an equally excellent presentation and talk on Portadown’s role in the First World War and explained personal stories and experiences about local men who went to fight for King and Country.

Bringing History to Life

In the early planning stages of the festival, Portadown Heritage Tours had looked at the events that happened in the hall after the volunteers had enlisted, but before they left to train and fight.  These events included tea dances for the soldiers and their families.  So, on Friday 27thSeptember, Portadown Heritage Tours hosted a Ladies Night with a Tea Party for the ladies of the local Women’s Orange Institution.  A ladies night was chosen to pay tribute to the local women who contributed so much towards the Home Rule Crisis and the War Effort.

Success

The festival was concluded on Saturday 28thSeptember with a family fun day, a more modern twist on the family events that where held in 1914.

The festival proved very popular with an excellent number of visitors recorded.  Local Schools and Boys Brigade also enjoyed the festivities.

Special Thanks

Portadown Heritage Tours would like to express their gratitude of thanks to everyone involved in the festival.

Star of David Accordion Band, Edgarstown Accordion Band, Pride of the Birches Accordion Band, Portadown Defenders Flute Band, Hilhaven Flute Band, Corcrain Flute Band, Colour Party Portadown Ex Servicemen’s LOL 608 and RBP 326, Royal Irish Fusiliers Association Portadown Branch, Piper David Hogg, Rev Maurice Laverty, Grand Master GOLI Edward Stevenson, Drew Rowan, Ashley Forbes WW1 Exhibits, The ladies of  Carleton over 50’s, David Weir and Craigavon Museum Services, Carol Walker Somme Association, Northern Ireland Historical Airsoft Society, Richard Edgar, Carleton Street Community Development Association, Brilliant Trails, Museum of Orange Heritage Belfast, Lodges and Individuals who kindly loaned artefacts, the Ladies of the local Women’s Orange Institution, Castle Kings Bouncy Castle Hire, Friendly Faces, Portadown District LOL No.1 and all our volunteers for all the hard work putting the exhibition together.

1914: The possibility of a UVF hospital at Carleton Street Orange Hall

1914: The possibility of a UVF hospital at Carleton Street Orange Hall

 Ulster Women’s Unionist Council

The council was established on 23rd January 1911.  It very quickly developed into a strong, active and democratic body that held the women of Ulster together with one common objective-the resistance to Home Rule for Ireland.  Within just one year of its establishment, the UWUC was notably the largest female political  group in Ireland.  At its height membership was in the region of 115,000-200,000.

Civil War In Ireland

Many women were anxious to play their part in the event of Civil War in Ireland, particularly the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council who proposed, as early as the beginning of 1912, that an Ambulance Society be set up and associated with their organisation.  However, they also became the driving force behind the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Medical and Nursing Corps which was formally in place by the end of 1913.  They believed that each Company of the UVF should have a voluntary female nursing section that could be called upon in the event of Civil War breaking out.  Up until that time various affiliated associations of the UWUC were already offering First Aid and nursing classes in their areas.

Establishing a Nursing Service

The Executive Committee of the Ulster Women’s council then took the initiative in early October 1913, to write to the Medical Board of the Ulster Volunteer Force to ask them to give serious consideration to the idea of a nursing service.  They made plain the urgency of the situation and included how the scheme should be based on the outline of the Voluntary Aid Detachment scheme which operated in Britain under the Red Cross.  They pointed out that volunteers should be trained in First Aid and Home Nursing using material from either the Red Cross or St John’s Ambulance Association.  The medical Board accepted the idea of a nursing service and by mid December 1913 the training scheme was well underway in many areas of the province.

Portadown Women’s Unionist Association

The members of Portadown Women’s Unionist Association had many links with the local Women’s Loyal Orange Institution.  The association in Portadown was a strong and well organised one.  They met in Carleton Street Orange hall.  In August 1913 they held a large meeting in a field in Edgarstown, which was owned by Miss Kate Carleton, to rally against Home Rule.  They held a number of these meetings during the years of the Home Rule Crisis.

The Blacker’s and The Unionist Associations

The President of the Portadown Women’s Unionist Association in 1914 was Mrs Blacker of Carrickblacker. The wife of Major Stewart Ward William Blacker.  During the years of the Home Rule Crisis, Major Blacker took a keen interest in the formation of the Unionist Clubs and in January 1912 he was appointed vice-president of the local men’s Unionist Association in Portadown.  Major Blacker was then appointed commanding officer of the 4th Portadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force.

Mrs Blacker was described by Mrs Dougan (the Vice President and wife of Bro. Dr George Dougan) as:

“A worthy representative of the Blacker family, the Blacker’s in days gone by have rendered invaluable service to the Unionist Cause”

The Secretary was Mrs C Johnston, her husband was the Chairman of the men’s Unionist Association in Portadown.  The treasurer was Louisa Shillington, the wife of David Graham Shillington and a respected Orangewoman.  David Graham Shillington was an officer of the 4th Portadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force and also a respected Orangeman.

UVF Hospital at Carleton Street Orange Hall

At the annual meeting of the Portadown Women’s Unionist Association in Carleton Street Orange Hall, in April 1914, the plans were finalised for a volunteer hospital in the Orange Hall.  In the event of an outbreak of civil war in Ireland.

The Orangemen of Portadown had kindly placed the whole building at the disposal of the women should a civil war break out.  It would have been a base hospital.  The Parochial Hall had also been offered as an auxiliary if it was required.  The staff at the hospital would have been as follows:

  • Joint Commandants- Mrs Robb and Mrs Hobson
  • Superintendant Nurse- Miss Marion Stanley
  • Mr WM Fulton- Treasurer
  • Mr Megarry- Quarter Master
  • Mr Robert Anderson – Transport Officer
  • Four trained nurses
  • Forty women trained in first aid nursing

The people of the town and district were generous in their promises to give or lend articles for the hospital and the tradespeople of the town also came forward to offer their services.

The cleaning and cooking was also not over looked.  In the President’s report of the meeting it states that:

“I am glad to be able to tell you that we are extremely well off in both these respects”.

Mrs Davidson was tasked to oversee the cleaning of the hospital along with a large group of willing helpers.  Mrs Dawson, Mrs Wedgewood, Mrs R Lutton and Mrs W Fulton would be responsible for the cooking.

The women had carefully refrained from asking for any money for the hospital.  Although the executive committee of the association had ear-marked £10 of the general fund to be devoted to the use of the hospital if it was required.  It was noted within the Presidents report that:

“I know that should the need really arise, you would all help as much as lay in your power”.

Mrs Blacker stated in her President report that:

“We all pray earnestly that the need for this hospital may never arise, still we must have our preparations made, and our organisation more or less complete, so that in the event of an outbreak we would not be caught napping”.

The Secretary, Mrs C Johnston, read a report on the work done by the Association during the year, which contained the following:

“When we met at our annual general meeting last year, we all fondly hoped that Home Rule would have been dead by this time.  I believe it is dying, but it is not prepared to die, and we need to do everything in our power now to make it impossible for it ever to raise its head again in Ulster”

Canvassing and Newspaper Distribution

Women of the Portadown association often traveled to Britain to canvas support and teach the true facts of the situation in Ireland.  One noted visit in the report of the meeting mentions a, Mrs Weir, who had given a satisfactory account of her canvassing experience in Scotland.

The Association in Portadown, on average posted over one hundred papers each week to Britain.  The importance of this task was emphasised as it resulted in large subscriptions from some of the people to whom the papers were sent.  This task counteracted government propaganda in Britain.

Mrs Johnston worked tirelessly to promote the Unionist cause both as Secretary and as head of the Volunteers Post Office.  Mrs Louisa Shillington, as treasurer, and all the other officers of the Association gave so much of their time and effort in the interests of the Unionist cause.

Mrs Dougan paid tribute to the Ulster Volunteer force during the Association’s meeting stating:

“On the night of the 19th and 20th March when we all believed that wholesale massacre was at hand, and also on Friday night last, every man turned out.  Not one sent an apology or made an appeal to get off.  We hope and trust that they might never have to be mobilised again in similar circumstances, but if they do, they would prove themselves worthy sons of worthy forefathers, and that every man among them would do his duty’.

Outbreak of War

At the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, the Home Rule crisis in Ireland and the threat of Civil War was now overtaken by a much greater force.  The Ulster Volunteer Force and the Irish Volunteers set aside their differences and joined the ranks of Kitchener’s new army.

The outbreak of war propelled the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council into a new cause and for the remainder of the war their active opposition to Home Rule was put aside; the focus was now on how they could actively help on the ‘home front’.

In the early period of the war, the UWUC were actively pursuing various avenues whereby the skills of their newly trained Ulster Volunteer nurses could be utilised immediately and like many other aid organisations, offered their services to the British War Office which were declined.  Not to be deterred an offer was made directly to the French Authorities which was gladly accepted and by 22nd September 1914, arrangments were already in place for the first group of the Ulster Volunteer nurses to proceed to France.

Carleton Street Orange Hall

The Orange Hall became a recruitment office.  On 15th September 1914, 300 men were selected from the 4th Portadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force.  The men underwent medical examination and were enlisted into the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Carleton Street Orange Hall

 

This is a very small part of a much bigger story to be told through our “Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Exhibition launching September 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edward Saunderson and the Ulster Covenant

Edward Saunderson and the Ulster Covenant

The MP for North Armagh Edward Saunderson (1837-1906) had stated 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”.

It was no surprise then that in 1912, Unionist leader Edward Carson chose Portadown for one of the final pre-covenant demonstrations on 25th September.  Carson stood at the statue of Edward Sanderson (outside St Marks Church) and, in a tribute to the MP and his views on Home Rule, read a card attached to the statue stating “though dead, yet speaketh”.

Here, Carson greeted the procession-consisting of thousands of Unionist club and Orange Order members.  The town centre echoed to the sound of drums and bands as the ranks passed, Carson receiving the salute from all.

He then proceeded to the town’s show grounds were a stage carriage carried the slogan, “We will not have Home Rule”.  During a stirring oration, the crowd was told in no uncertain terms that in the battle for unionism, “Portadown will not be behind”.

Just a few days later, over 95% of the district’s eligible population penned their signatures on the Ulster Covenant and the Ulster Declaration.

Colonel_Saunderson's_Statue,_Market_Street,_Portadown._-_geograph.org.uk_-_571068