Category Archives: Culture

The Collen Women and their strong influence on Orangeism

The Collen Women and their strong influence on Orangeism

The Collen family have their roots firmly in the building, construction and development of Portadown.

The Collen family have been involved in the building trade since 1810.  Collen Brothers opened their doors for business in 1867 in Carleton Street, Portadown. John Collen took the lead in establishing the new family company along with his brothers Richard, Joseph and David.  Collen brothers managed to secure a wide variety of contracts not only in Portadown but also throughout Ulster.

The Collen Brothers built Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The outside facade of the hall holds a strong resemblance to the Blacker family residence that was Carrickblacker House.  The firm became the main contractor for public works in the town.  The company expanded well beyond its native region, extending its reach to Dublin in the early 1870’s.

 

Carrickblacker House

Carleton Street Orange Hall

 

Strong Unionist Links

John Collen acquired a local residence at Killycomain House which became the family home. He was an important figure in the town and a prominent Methodist. He was appointed Justice of the Peace for Portadown and emerged as a leading member of the local Unionist Party. He was a member of the General Committee of the North Armagh Unionist Association during the first decade of the twentieth century.

He was selected to represent Portadown Urban District Council as a member of Armagh County Council.  He remained a member of the Council for over two decades until his retirement due to ill health in 1920.  John Collen was also appointed as Deputy Lieutenant for the County in December 1906, retaining the post until his death in 1921.  He also served as high sheriff of Armagh in 1911, attending the coronation of King George V.

The Collen woman and Orangeism in Portadown

Perhaps it was the influence of their father’s strong unionist views, but it was two of John Collen’s Daughters that paved the way for the Women’s Loyal Orange Institution in Portadown.  Louisa and Jessie Collen were prominent Orangewomen of Portadown.  The Association of Loyal Orange Women of Ireland, Armagh No.3 District, Portadown was formed on 21st May 1923.  There were three District Lodges functioning at this time.

The Officers were:

  • District Mistress Sister Mrs. McDonald
  • Deputy District Mistress Sister Jessie Collen
  • District Chaplain Sister Miss McDonald
  • District Secretary Sister Mrs J Logan
  • District Treasurer Sister Miss Dougan

Louisa Shillington (nee Collen)

Louisa Collen married David Graham Shillington in 1895.  The Shillington family were also very important in the development of Portadown.  David Graham Shillington was a proud Unionist, Methodist and Military man.  He served as District Master of Portadown LOL No.1 from 1926 until 1944.

Louisa was influential in the development of Women’s Orangeism and Unionism in Portadown.  Sister Shillington held office in WLOL 62, a lodge based in Carleton Street Orange Hall and still going strong to this day.  The Lodge was the first to be formed in Portadown on 21st May 1921.  Louisa was also President of the Women’s Unionist Association Portadown Branch.

Louisa Shillington (Nee Collen)
Image courtesy of Shillington Family records

Jessie Collen

Jessie Collen was the youngest daughter of John and Mary Collen.  Sister Collen was the first Worshipful Mistress of WLOL 101, based at Edenderry Orange Hall in the town.  According to newspaper records it was her Sister Louisa Shillington that officially opened Edenderry Orange Hall.  The Lodge was formed on 8th May 1923.  Sister Collen was also the first Deputy District Mistress of Armagh No.3 District, Portadown.

Records show that Jessie was influential in representing Women’s Orangeism at many different parades and events.  One notable event that Sister Collen attended was the visit of their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of York to Northern Ireland in 1924 along with Sisters Mrs McDonald and Miss Shaw.  There is no mention of representation from the men of Portadown District LOL No.1.  But both organisations of the Orange Institution of Portadown worked very closely together, so it is thought that the Sisters in attendance were a representation of the Portadown Orange Institution as a whole.

Working Together

Through obvious family links a strong working relationship was developed between both the men’s orange institution and the women’s orange institution in Portadown. The District Officers of the Women’s Association would have paraded at the front along with the District Officers of Portadown District LOL No.1.  According to Newspaper records they shared out attendances at events and often would have had joint church services and parades.  The effects of this strong relationship built in the 1920’s is still present today.

A lasting Memorial to Jessie Collen

Jessie Collen died on New Year’s Eve in 1931.  She had been living at 5 Deramore Park , Belfast located in the Malone area in the South of the city.  But she passed away at the residence of her eldest brother, Thomas John Collen esquire, at 20 Bethia Road Bournemouth, England.  It is thought that she was only in her late fifties when she died.

In 1937, six years after Sister Collen’s death, Edenderry Women’s LOL 101 was officially renamed ‘The Jessie Collen Memorial Women’s LOL 101’ as a lasting tribute to the memory of its first Worshipful Mistress.  Under the auspices of the lodge, a small function took place in Edenderry Orange Hall on 14th April 1937 to mark the occasion.  There were a number of visitor’s present including D.M. Bro Major David Graham Shillington, Sister Louisa Shillington (nee Collen) D.M of WLOL 62 and Br R.J Magowan W.M of Edenderry Temperance and Benefit LOL No.322.

Jessie Collen is buried in the Collen family plot at Seagoe Cemetery.

Jessie Collen Memorial WLOL 101

 

Sources:

Collen 200 years of Building and Civil Engineering in Ireland, John Walsh

Portadown Times articles 1923-1937

Portadown District LOL No.1 2005 County Demonstration booklet

NAI, Census of Ireland 1901 and 1911, Household return for John Collen

 

 

Apprentice Boys of Derry Exhibition

Apprentice Boys of Derry Exhibition

Apprentice Boys of Derry Exhibition

A new Exhibition has arrived at Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre.  The pop up exhibition explores the history of the formation of the Apprentice Boys of Derry.  The Exhibition is kindly on loan from the Siege Museum, based in Londonderry.

The Siege Museum

The Siege Museum was officially opened in March 2016 and is dedicated to commemorating the history of the Siege of Londonderry 1688-89 and the cultural heritage of the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry. There is tours available of the Siege Museum.  It contains three modern galleries which are packed with exciting stories of endurance, defiance, adventure and the legendary bravery of the 13 young apprentice boys!

Apprentice Boys Portadown

Carleton Street Orange Hall is home to the Apprentice Boys of Derry Portadown Branch Club.  The exhibition is a chance to explore memorabilia of the Apprentice Boys and also discover the history behind their formation. Along the way there is also the opportunity to explore the history of the Siege of Londonderry.

Opening Times

The Exhibition is open at Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre for the month of March.  It is open Monday to Thursday 9:00-16:15, Friday 9:00-13:15 and Tuesday evening 19:30-20:30. This is a family friendly exhibition with activities for the kids also available. Exhibition booklets are also available, free of charge.

Tours of Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre

Our usual daily tours of the Orange Hall are also available during the exhibition. Guided tours or audio tours are both available.  This tour is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the history and heritage of Orangeism in Portadown.  Carleton Street Orange Hall has been at the heart of Portadown since 1875.  For more information contact shout@portadownheritagetours.co.uk or call the office on 028 38332010.

Carleton Street Orange Hall is not your average Orange Museum….

Carleton Street Orange Hall is not your average Orange Museum….

Thinking of a visit to Carleton Street Orange Hall? It’s not your average Orange Museum….

Is your Lodge or Organisation looking somewhere a bit different to visit? Well Portadown Heritage Tours can offer you that very opportunity!

Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre is a unique opportunity which just so happens to be right at home in the Orange Citadel.  The foundation stone for this iconic building was laid on the present site in 1873 and was opened in 1875.

Carleton Street Orange Hall

Tour Packages with a difference.

Portadown Heritage Tours host tour packages to this iconic Orange Hall.  The Hall is fitted with i-Beacon Technology the first of its kind in any tourist building in Northern Ireland, thanks to Ballymena based company Brilliant Trails. This technology means the hall is fully equipped with an audio tour which works through the Portadown Heritage Tours app. Each room within the Hall is named after an Orangeman of Portadown District who had a great influence in the development of Portadown as a town.

We provide visitors with an iPad to use for the duration of their visit. Visitors can take their time exploring the rooms while listening to the rooms historical significance.  If your not comfortable working technology, don’t worry! We have tour guides on hand to offer guidance during your visit.

Group and Lodge Packages available.

Friendly Tour Guides on hand!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During your visit..

Our Lodge and Group Packages include the Audio Tour of the Hall along with very tasty refreshments and a room to hold your meeting in.  Portadown Heritage Tours provide guides who are Community Tour Guides.  We are a unique organisation in this sense. We are all local people telling the local stories that make up Portadown’s history and heritage!   Although all the guides are trained to WorldHost Standard, we definitely like to have the ‘craic’ along the way.

Why we highly recommend a visit to Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre!

Orange Heritage is definitely making its mark on the local tourism scene throughout Northern Ireland.  But Carleton Street Orange Hall is not your normal Orange Museum!  The Orange Culture itself is very much alive and vibrant no matter what view you may have of it.  Therefore the approach that Portadown Heritage Tours have took towards our tours of the Hall is very simple.  We have opened the doors of this iconic Hall so that absolutely everyone can come and explore the Orange Culture first hand in an actual Orange Hall.

Every room is part of the Heritage Centre in its own right. There is artefacts and documents on display in every single room.  But those rooms are still actively used by all sorts of organisations of the Loyal Orders, Bands and Community Groups.  We have took the term ‘Living History’ to a whole new level.  Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre is by no means just an Orange Museum. This iconic Hall is a living history showcase of the Orange Families Culture; past, present and future.  The hall is an absolute must see within the Orange Heritage sites of County Armagh, make it your first stop!

Bell Room Photo credit: Tony Hendron

Whitten Room Photo Credit: Tony Hendron

Our Positive Reviews

Our Visitors book is busting with positive reviews. Visitors are genuinely blown away from the minute they step inside Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The first thing that will catch your attention is the iconic tilled floor of the hallway.  After that, room after room will surprise you.  We estimate an hour and a half for the tour of the hall, but you could easily get lost in its history for hours.

Thank you to you all for such an interesting afternoon.  The whole group absolutely loved it and we were all fascinated by different aspects of it.  The passion you all have for the history and culture of Portadown was evident and thank you for sharing it with us.

Ann

Book Now!

To Book a visit to Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre contact the Portadown Heritage Tours office on 028 38332010 or email shout@portadownheritagetours.co.uk.  For Lodges and Organisations we can build and mould a tour package that suits the needs of your group.

A Successful Orange Heritage Week 2018 in Portadown

A Successful Orange Heritage Week 2018 in Portadown

We Brought Orange Heritage Home to the Orange Citadel!

Futures Bright for Orange Heritage

Orange Heritage Week saw the release of our audio tours, using i-Beacon technology, the first of its kind in any tourist building in Northern Ireland.

 

The kids treasure trail was a big success and proved that Orange Heritage Week can be enjoyed by all ages.  The kids were given free rain of the hall and they throughly enjoyed their time exploring it and discovering a little bit of history along the way.  They enjoyed finding the treasure and their party afterwards with juice and treats.

Release of our Exhibitions

We had three Exhibitions open during Orange Heritage Week.  These included Portadown Orangemen on the Western Front, Orange & Industry and Drumcree: 20 Years on.  The exhibitions displayed local history and its connections to Orange Heritage within the town. Love it or hate it, theres no doubt about it, Orange Heritage runs deep into the history of Portadown.  The exhibitions took a while to get through, with visitors coming back over a couple of days to explore them.

 

Band Performances & Public Talks

We would like to say a big thank you to Star of David Accordion band for their open concert they performed on the Monday night.  It showcased the week nicely, highlighting the importance of music throughout Orange Heritage.  Also a big thank you to Historian Robert Wallace for his two very interesting talks on ‘The Williamite Wars in the European Context’ and ‘The Palaces of William and Mary’.  Both proved a very good insight into the beginnings of the Orange Culture and history.  Link Below for a short video of the bands performance.

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Spooky Times Ahead..

We have Ghost Tours running throughout October! To kick those of we had our first Ghost Tour of the season during Orange Heritage Week.  This proved very popular and we hope everyone had a good time, there was a few laughs along the way as well as the scary bits!

Finishing on a high!

To finish the festival off we had our MacMillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning! We are happy to announce we raised a total of £295.  We are delighted with the total and we have our visitors support to thank for that.

 

Its a Thank You from us!

We would like to thank everyone who supported us for our festival of events for Orange Heritage Week.  To all our visitors who attended your support is very much appreciated.

 

 

 

 

Drumcree: 20 years on Film show and Exhibition

Drumcree: 20 years on Film show and Exhibition

Drumcree: 20 years on

Portadown Orange District LOL 1 in association with Portadown Heritage Tours and Carleton Street Heritage Centre are hosting an Exhibition and film show ‘Drumcree:  twenty years on’ to mark twenty years since the banning of the return parade from Drumcree.

Photo credit: Portadown Heritage Tours

Where did it all begin?

The July anniversary Church parade to Drumcree is the oldest Orange Church Parade in the world.  This fact alone gives a great sense of pride to Portadown Orange District.  The parade first took place in 1807 a mere decade after the formation of the Orange Institution in 1795 a few miles away in Loughgall, which is hosting the annual County Armagh twelfth Celebrations this year.

 

Changing Demographics

Demographic Changes to the traditionally known Portadown area of ‘The Walk’ including Parkmount and Victoria Terrace meant the parade was first stopped on its return journey in 1995 and by 1998 it was stopped completely. This period of time and the Siege of Drumcree years saw Portadown become headline news worldwide as thousands gathered on ‘the Hill’.

 

Routes and approaches

Portadown Orange District LOL 1 continue to have a protest every Sunday against the Parades Commission determination that they are banned.  Although Portadown District have tried numerous approaches to various organisations to have a talks process with residents of the area to resolve the issues surrounding the parade.  There has been a negative response to Portadown Districts efforts at mediation.

 

Everyone welcome to the exhibition and film show

The exhibition and film show will be the largest ever showcase of archives on display from the Drumcree years following the story through past, present and future.  This exhibition and film show is open to everyone as an opportunity to learn and explore the events of the Drumcree years and a chance for visitors to see the story first hand rather than the medias perception.

Photo Credit: Portadown Heritage Tours

The Exhibition and film show will start on Monday 2nd July and will run until Saturday 7th July.  It will be held in Carleton Street Heritage Centre located within Carleton Street Orange Hall.  It will be open each weeknight from 7pm-9pm and 2pm-4pm on Saturday.  Each night will see a different film on show these will include; Drumcree 1995, Drumcree 1996, Behind Orange Lines, Drumcree 1997, Drumcree 1998 and The Café on the Hill.  The exhibition room will also be open at the same time for visitors to explore the archives and items on display. Follow Portadown Heritage Tours on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest details.

Also search Portadown Orange District LOL 1 on Facebook and Twitter or check out the district website http://www.portadowndistrictlolno1.co.uk

Photo credit: Portadown Heritage Tours

 

The Lambeg Drum

The Lambeg Drum

Few other instruments can match the Lambeg drum for size and sheer volume.  This Impressive percussion instrument is unique to the province of Ulster, and its not made anywhere else.  It is in fact the largest double-sided rope tension drum in the world, and is thought to be the loudest folk instrument on the planet! The Lambeg drum is perhaps most usually associated with the Orange tradition, where it is often used to accompany marchers on parade.  However drumming matches and competitions are held independently by drumming clubs the length and breadth of the province.

The true origin of the Lambeg drum remains unknown, as there is very little historical evidence documenting this instrument.  However, the mystery surrounding its creation has given rise to many different folklores, which have become as much a part of the Lambeg drumming tradition as the music itself.

There are several different theories surrounding the origins of the Lambeg drum, one such theory explains the title ‘Lambeg’ suggests the drum was first built in the village of Lambeg, near Lisburn.  Another popular theory is that the drums were first beaten with canes at a meeting in Lambeg in the 1870’s.  Some argue that the drum was first introduced by continental Williamite soldiers in the summer of 1690, and that the drum was played by these troops whilst camped at Lambeg enrolee from Carrickfergus to the Battle of the Boyne.

Another prominent story in Lambeg folklore connected to the Battle of the Boyne explains the uniquee rhythms that are traditionally played on the drum.  Legend has it that King William’s drummer boy had fallen asleep after eating a supper consisting of bread.  An opportunist Wren flew down and began to peck at the crumbs lying on the drum head.  The noise caused the boy to wake form his sleep just in time to discover the camp was under attack.  He was then able to raise the alarm in time to prevent defeat.

Goat skins from female ‘nanny’ goats are preferred for drum heads, as they tend to be lighter and cleaner skin, making them easier to work with than a male or ‘Billy’ goat hide.

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Belfast Lodge with Portadown Links

Belfast Lodge with Portadown Links

A Belfast Orange Lodge has a very close connection with Portadown, as its name would suggest, and most of the founding members came from County Armagh town and district.  The Lodge is Rising Sons of Portadown LOL No 1336, and its warrant is held by Belfast District LOL No 2, sitting in Clifton Street Orange Hall.

It flourished in the early 1900’s when many linen workers from Portadown moved to Belfast to take up jobs in the huge linen mills in the North of the city.  Until fairly recently the lodge was in existence, but the huge movement of Protestant families  from the north and west Belfast resulted in a number of Orange Lodges declining in numbers and becoming dormant.  However, the warrant of the Rising Sons of Portadown LOL No 1336 is still held by District No 2, and a number of former members transferred to other city lodges.

One side of the banner is a representation of the massacre of Protestants in the River Bann in Portadown during the Irish Rebellion of 1641.  In July 1960, a new banner was unveiled for the lodge at a ceremony in Clifton Street Orange Hall, Belfast, by the then Grand Master of Ireland, Senator Sir George Clark.  Sir George was accompanied by Lady Clark, and the chairman was Bro J. Coalville, WM of No 2 District, Belfast.

The banner was dedicated by the Rev.T.W.W. Jones and bouquets were presented to Lady Clark and Mrs Jones.  A vote of thanks to Sir George was proposed by Bro Major F.R.A. Hands, Deputy County Grand Master, and seconded by Bro V. Carson, deputy master of the Rising Sons of Portadown LOL No 1336.  Sir George noted that the:

“lodge bore the title of a town in Northern Ireland noted for its loyalty and Orangeism, and it reflected the fact that so many people from the town had settled in Belfast”.

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The Orange Cage – Fowlers Entry

The Orange Cage – Fowlers Entry

Until the extensive development of the West Street-Woodhouse Street area of Portadown in the mid-1960’s, a maze of streets linked these two main thoroughfares.  These included David, John and Mary Streets, homes to almost a hundred people, living in homes which mostly lacked the amenities now considered essential, such as indoor toilets, proper heating and small gardens.

However, as in all the tightly knit working class areas of Portadown, there was a great tradition of family and community ties, and this enabled people to cope with the sort of housing conditions that would now be completely unacceptable in our society.  Adjacent to these streets, now swallowed up by the Magowan Buildings shopping and housing complex, was Fowlers Entry, the famous ‘Orange Cage’ as it was known throughout the town.

The small street, of some 30 houses was situated almost opposite the Saunderson statue and the War Memorial.  Unlike its neighbouring streets, the ‘Orange Cage’ was a cul-de-sac.  Like the other streets it was a close knit community, with many families having their origins in the area going back many decades.  What made it different from the other streets which were mixed as far as the the religion of families were concerned, is that for most of its existence, the families in Fowlers Entry were almost exclusively Protestant.

Each year, Fowlers Entry was bedecked in Union Jacks and bunting, and as the Orangemen passed the War Memorial and prepared to turn right for their parade through he town centre, the spectacle of the Orange Cage and its display of total loyalty was eye-catching.  Youngsters from the street sounded out a rhythm on miniature Lambeg drums, and waved small flags as the Orangemen paraded past their street.

Like all the other streets in central Portadown, the famous little street called Fowlers Entry is now but a memory, and its families were scattered to the new housing estates like Redmanville, Brownstown and Clounagh Park.  But their loyalty never wavered long after the last house had been demolished, the former residents of Fowlers Entry were displaying the same sense of loyalty in their new surroundings.

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Cider for King William III’s Army

Cider for King William III’s Army

Portadown provided cider for King William’s army during its campaign which ended in victory over James II and his men at the Boyne.  Records show that the Rev. William Brooke who was rector of Drumcree from 1679 until his death in 1700, wrote an account of the barony in 1682, from which it was learned that good cider was available in Portadown at thirty shillings a hogshead.

From the same source it was gathered that the farmers of Portadown district were compelled by their leases to plant apple trees proportionate to the quality of their land.  In 1690, King William’s cider maker Paul Le Harper was sent to Portadown with the necessary equipment to make cider for the Williamite Army.  Harper was a Huguenot, a member of the Protestant faith in France who were persecuted for their religion and forced to emigrate to other countries.

Lord Drogheda, who commanded a Williamite regiment stationed at Tandragee, part of which was quartered in Portadown had recorded that there was much cider there in the spring of 1690.  It is remarkable that so many apple trees in North Armagh had escaped the ravages of the 1641 rebellion, when farm houses and houses of English Protestant settlers were being destroyed.

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David Rock

David Rock

David Rock was a hugely respected man within the Urban District Council, the community of Portadown and the Orange and Black Institutions.  His greatest contribution to the town was his leadership as a senior Officer of the Ulster Special Constabulary (A Specials) during the partition of Ireland years.

Mr John Greenaway, a Roman Catholic member of the Urban Council paid public tribute to Rock for his maintenance of peace in the town for both communities.

David Rock died in October 1937 and is buried at St Saviours (The Dobbin) churchyard with the inscription ‘A true Orangeman’ on his headstone.  The Rock room in Carleton Street Orange Hall commemorates him.

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