Category Archives: Orange Institution

‘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.

Laying the Foundation Stone of Carleton Street Orange Hall

Laying the Foundation Stone of Carleton Street Orange Hall

The foundation stone of Carleton Street Orange Hall was laid on 1st July 1872.  This particular moment in history has led to nearly 150 years worth of local heritage in Carleton Street Orange Hall.

The weather was quite poor on that particular day but it did not affect the proceedings of the ceremony.  The ceremony was described as being “performed in a manner worthy of the occasion”.

Arrival

Just after noon, the ‘Country Lodges’ and spectators marched into Portadown.  The Orange Lodges had agreed to meet at 1:00pm ‘on the green’ where the hall would be built in Carleton Street.  From that hour until shortly before 3:00pm, processions of the Brethren were continuously arriving.

Below is a list of the Lodges and their Worshipful Masters who were present.

  • LOL 7 – R Ruddock
  • LOL 8- H Mercer
  • LOL 9- Thomas Hoy
  • LOL 10- B Donnelly
  • LOL 13- R Budd
  • LOL 20- William Dyner
  • LOL 25- George Sherman
  • LOL 31- J Cooke
  • LOL 40 – James Taylor
  • LOL 56 – W J Locke
  • LOL 58 – Albert Groabie
  • LOL 78- Thomas Wright
  • LOL 81- John Little
  • LOL 89- George Robinson
  • LOL 99- William G Dowey
  • LOL 107- Malcolmson Moffet
  • LOL 172- Rev C K Owen
  • LOL 417 – J Patton
  • LOL 1301- W J Sullivan

Platform

Each Lodge carried their banner.  The banners were described in local newspaper reports as ‘without exception of rich quality and chaste design’.  There was a platform set up at the site of the new hall.  A large union flag in the centre, and one in each corner, where flown from the tower of St Marks Parish Church.  During the early part of the afternoon the bells of the church were rung in honour of the occasion.

The platform party consisted of; Stewart Blacker Esq, Rev C K Irwin, Rev A J Are, Rev James Patton, Rev S Sullivan, Rev H W Left, Baroness Von Steglitz, Miss Belcher, Miss Stead, Mrs Sullivan, Miss McNally, Miss Crosslee, Miss Kate Carleton, Mr Thomas Carleton Esq, Dr Stuart W Hall Esq, Mr J Boyd Esq, R Pepper Esq, Mrs Pepper and  Brother James Ruddock (D.M).

Proceedings

The proceedings began with Stewart Blacker stating that “they always commenced their proceedings with prayer and in reading a portion of scripture”.  Reverend Irwin led the opening prayers while Reverend Patton read the 67th Psalm.

Stewart Blacker then began his speech.  He welcomed all those present and paid tribute to the occasion and all the Brethren of Portadown Orange District.

” There is no District in the whole Orange Institution that holds such a historical place as the good district of Portadown”

– Stewart Blacker

 

Major Stewart Blacker

Mr Blacker also paid tribute to the formation of the Orange Order and the first Grand Master. His uncle, Colonel William Blacker.  He was immensely proud of this.  Stewart Blacker then proceeded to show the crowd William Blacker’s Orange Sash. It had represented his position as Grand Master.  The sash was described as ‘rather worse for wear, and rather faded’ but he went on to say that “it was worn by an honest-hearted Protestant, and will always be held by true Protestants as a genuine relic”.  Stewart Blacker then produced an orange gown that had been worn by William Blacker’s wife, Anne.  This was well received with laughter and applause by the crowd and there was three cheers given for the ladies.

Stewart Blacker then continued his speech by stating his hopes and expectations of the Portadown Orange Hall.

“In a Hall of our own we can meet comfortably and well, and ask our friends to it and speak our sentiments, and hear our minister of the various evangelical denomination.  We can form a common platform of which Protestantism and the holy scriptures are the base of the foundations.  We have often been spoken against because the poor and the humble man goes to the public house, but every poor and humble man has not got a large and fashionable club to receive him, and when he has been toiling and working, he is obliged to go somewhere to get refreshment.  It is not the fault of of our institution; but by having an Orange Hall we can have a meeting place for men of all tastes for the principles of our Orange Lodges.”

– Stewart Blacker

The Belfast Newsletter 2nd July 1872

 

He finished his speech with the words;

“Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry”

Inspiration for an Orange Hall

The inspiration for building Carleton Street Orange Hall began in Canada. Stewart Blacker visited Canada in July 1870.  He was astonished and delighted by the Orange Order in Canada. They had beautiful halls and other buildings that were used for not just meetings but also large orange orphan institutions.

One particular building in Toronto used the main body for meetings, but it also had two great wings, referred to as ‘Orange Wings’.  Within those wings of the building there was the Orange Institutions aged members and those who were past work.  There was many advantages for the Orange Order in Toronto having this facility.  One of the main advantages was that it meant their members were kept out of the poor house.

 

Laying the Foundation Stone

The official laying of the foundation stone was initiated when The Portadown Protestant Brass Band played “The Protestant Boys”.  The Baroness Von Stieglitz was Called upon to officially lay the stone.  Mr J Boyd from Belfast was the architect of the hall and he presented the Baroness with a silver trowel for the purpose of the occasion.

The silver trowel was supplied by ‘Messrs, Trelford and Co’ from Donegall Place Belfast. It had the following inscription:

‘Presented by the Orangemen of the District of Portadown to the Baroness Von Stieglitz of Carrickblacker on the occasion of her laying the first stone of Portadown Orange Hall, July 1st 1872’

Rev W Lett, from Bessbrook, read the dedication prayer and then the stone was lowered into place. The Baroness tapped the stone and declared it ‘duly laid in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost’.  The foundation stone was a corner stone.

Who was Baroness Von Stieglitz?

 

Hester Anne Von Stieglitz (Nee Blacker)

Hester Anne Blacker was Stewart Blacker’s sister.  Hester Anne married Baron Fredrick Von Stieglitz.  He was a descendant of an aristocratic family from Pilsen, Bohemia.  The family had settled in Cookstown, County Tyrone in 1802.  The Baron emigrated from there to Australia where he married.  He returned to Ireland on the death of his first wife.  He married Hester Anne in 1859.

The Baron died in 1866 and the couple had no children.  Baroness Von Stieglitz then devoted much of her life to Seagoe Parish Church and took a keen interest in the local community and people.

The Baroness was instilled with a great interest in the Orange Order and she often attended the Twelfth demonstrations with her uncle, Colonel William Blacker.

This interest led Hester Anne to donate money for the building of Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The other major contributors towards the Orange Hall were Major Stewart Blacker and Miss Kate Carleton.

The Baroness also leased land at Seagoe for the building of an Orange Hall by Seagoe LOL 26.

 

 

 

 

 

Kids Trail at Carleton Street Orange Hall

Kids Trail at Carleton Street Orange Hall

Looking for something fun and local for the kids to do this summer?

Portadown Heritage Tours are launching a Kids Treasure Trail at Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The Trail is available on Tuesday 6th August, Thursday 8th August, Tuesday 13th August, Thursday 15th August and Tuesday 20th August.   The Trail will be open from 9:30am until 3:00pm.

Kids Treasure Trail

The Trail covers the ground floor of the Orange Hall.  Each room has a different activity to complete as part of the Trail.  The Trail is suitable for Primary School aged children and younger children will also enjoy it but they may need some help along the way. Parents and Guardians must stay with children at all times.

Educational

Activities on the trail also have an educational element.  The activities cover historical topics such as the Formation of the Orange Order, the First World War, The Orange Order in different Countries and Museum investigation.  Also we have added a unique element as part of the activities.  Portadown Heritage Tours have set up a mock Lodge meeting for the kids to get involved in. The mock Lodge meeting gives a small insight into the Orange Order without giving away trade secrets!

For parents who would like to get their children involved in the Junior Orange, this offers a small insight into a general Lodge Meeting and the Orange Institution as a whole.

Fun Continues

The Trail will take approximately an hour to complete.  After the Trail is completed Parents/Guardians can take the kids upstairs to the large function room.  There they are free to run about in a safe environment.  There is lots of games available for them to play.  There is also different arts, crafts and colouring activities available.

We also have refreshments available for kids and adults.  The trail is priced at £3 per child. To book the trail contact the Portadown Heritage Tours office on 38332010 or search ‘Portadown Heritage Tours’ on Facebook and send us a private message.

 

Portadown Arches: Clounagh and Rectory

Portadown Arches: Clounagh and Rectory

The Clounagh Arch was a small steel construction.

“There was a fairly decent supply of flags in the town and on the line of route of the procession on Saturday.  One of the arches, perhaps the Edenderry one was the most admired by the visitors, but that at Clounagh corner also received a due share of praise.  A very neat arch was displayed at Clounagh Cottages on the Armagh Road.  The Inscription on one side was ‘Clounagh Welcomes you‘ and on the other ‘1690-Nuff Said-1916’.”

-Portadown Times

31st August 1923

 

Clounagh Arch and Sir William Allen pictured at the platform of RBP Parade.

Rectory Arch

In 1981 a committee was formed with the intention of erecting an Arch in Rectory Estate.  The Committee members collected weekly from the local residents and a new Arch was erected in time for the July celebrations in 1982.

 

The Arch in 1982 with Clounagh RBP 663 parading under it on 13th July.

After the Drumcree Stand off in 1995 and 1996, the committee decided to refurbish the Arch and incorporate Drumcree Parish Church into the design.

 

 

Platform Party at the opening of the Arch on 10th July 1997. Pictured on the right, 3rd person in, is Harold Gracey.

 

 

 

Rectory Arch 1997 with Star of David Accordion Band

 

 

Current Rectory Arch dedicated to the Memory of Harold Gracey.

 

Following the death of Worshipful District Master Harold Gracey, the decision was taken to include Harold’s picture on the Arch.

In 2016, the Arch was again refurbished and this time dedicated as the Harold Gracey Memorial Arch.

 

 

Harold Gracey

Harold joined Edenderry Junior LOL 51 at the age of seven.  He was greatly influenced by his uncle, Brother Albert Greenaway, who was a member of LOL 322 and a District Lecturer.

At the age of sixteen, Harold joined Wingfield Verners Crimson Star LOL 25 and in 1954 gained his Lecturers Certificate.  It was presented to him by Worshipful District Master, Dr George Dougan.  The following year he received his Royal Arch Purple Lecturers Certificate.  Harold first became a Lecturer in LOL 25 and a number of years later he was appointed District Lecturer for Portadown District LOL No 1.

When Brother Gracey was visiting Lodges he became well known and respected by all. In 1986 Harold became Worshipful District Master of Portadown LOL No.1 and was a popular choice of the Brethren.

Harold took over at an extremely difficult time for Portadown District due to the controversy over the Obins Street parades.  Harold did not flinch facing problems and brought calm to many difficult situations.

The Drumcree Church Parade by Portadown District LOL No.1 was first stopped in 1995 at Police lines.  There Harold famously said:

 

“The Brethren of Portadown will not be moving,  let it be hours, let it be days or weeks until they can walk the traditional route”.

 

 

 

Thousands of people flocked to Drumcree.  The support was not just for Portadown District but also for Harold Gracey.

In 1996, there was a further standoff, but again Harold Gracey stood firm.  The Church parade was given the go ahead in 1997, but worse was to come in 1998.  This time the Government did not back down, but neither did Harold.  Harold moved into a caravan at Drumcree during the Siege.

Harold was WDM of Portadown District from 1986 until his death in 2004.  He is not just one of the most famous Orangemen of the long history and heritage of the District, but he is regarded by Orangemen throughout Ireland and further afield, as one of the greatest Orangemen of the 20th Century.

Portadown Arches: Carleton Street

Portadown Arches: Carleton Street

 Carleton Street: David Rock Memorial Arch

In July 1939 the David Rock Memorial Arch was unveiled in Carleton Street.  Sir William Allen and Lady Allen were present.  There was a large gathering in the street and the Arch was unveiled by Mrs S A McDonald, JP, Cranagil.  Sir William Allen DSO, MP presided.

The Arch was described as an “imposing structure which is a credit to the designers, and is a worthy perpetuation of the memory of Brother Rock”.

 

Opening of the David Rock Memorial Arch in Carleton Street

David Rock

David Rock was one of the most distinguished men to have held office in Portadown District LOL No.1.  He held the position of District Secretary. He also served as Worshipful Master of his Lodge, Prince of Wales LOL 56.  He was Deputy Grand Master of Ireland.  He was also Worshipful Master of Carrickblacker Guiding Star RBP 503 and Deputy District Master of Portadown Royal Black District Chapter No.5.

 

David Rock MBE JP

 

David was a leading citizen in Portadown.  He topped the voting polls on many occasions in the Portadown Urban District Council elections.  He also served as Chairman of Portadown Urban District Council for several years and worked tirelessly on behalf of both communities.

His greatest contribution to Portadown was in the early 1920’s at the time of Partition.  The IRA launched a terrorist offensive across Ulster.  This affected many large towns.  David was a Senior Officer in the Ulster Special Constabulary and maintained strict discipline over his men.

When four Portadown ‘A’ Specials were kidnapped by the IRA at the border, David led patrols of Specials to prevent reprisals against the Nationalist Community.  Negotiations between Unionist leaders and Orange leaders, including David Rock, and the IRA resulted in the four Specials being released unharmed.

A leading Nationalist member of Portadown Urban District Council paid tribute to David saying “David Rock had more than anyone kept the peace in Portadown”.  This was echoed by Joe Devlin Nationalist MP for West Belfast at a function in Portadown in 1923.

Under David Rock’s leadership, the Orange Order in Portadown flourished, with a number of new lodges being formed.  David Rock died on 16th October 1937 and thousands attended his funeral at St Saviours The Dobbin.

David Rock’s headstone reads “A noble and unselfish example of a true Orangeman”.

An imposing and handsome structure

Surmounted by three Gothic Arches, the structure was completed with symbols of the Orange and Black Institutions.  An open Bible occupied a prominent position and the memorial attribute was indicated in a black and white finish.  There were two photographs of Brother Rock, which were taken by Brother W J Moffett, in the centre of the structure.  One portrayed him as an Orangeman and the other as a Sir Knight.

 

“The people of Carleton Street are making a ‘strong pull’ to have their new arch erected in good time for the ‘Twelfth’, and we understand that it will be really worthy memorial to the late Brother David Rock, MBE JP, in the street in which he spent such a big part of his life”.

– Portadown Times April 1939

Valuable Help

Orange Lodges and Royal Black Perceptories gave valuable help towards the Arch.  Funds for the arch was raised through subscriptions.

Below is listed the subscriptions made by Lodges and Perceptories.  The subscriptions were published in newspapers at the time.

  • LOL 56 -£3 3s
  • LOL127- 5s
  • LOL 31- 5s
  • LOL 99- 5s
  • LOL 273 -5s
  • LOL 417 -5s
  • LOL 58 -10s
  • RBP 466- 10s 6d
  • RBP 744- 10s
  • RBP 199- 5s
  • RBP 267- 5s

Sadly, the Carleton Street Arch was erected only once.  The 2nd World War broke out in September 1939 and the Arch was put into storage.  There are no records available as to what happened the Arch after the 2nd World War.

The Blacker and Shillington Families of Portadown Exhibition

The Blacker and Shillington Families of Portadown Exhibition

Portadown Heritage Tours are launching a new exhibition documenting the famous Blacker and Shillington Families of Portadown.

The Blacker family have their roots firmly engraved into the heritage and development of Portadown as a town.  The Family is from Viking decent and the first of the Blacker Family settled in Portadown in 1660.  It was from that point onwards that the family developed an influential historic link with Seagoe Parish Church, the development of the town and the Orange Institution.

Carrickblacker House was the Blacker’s Family home.

We were able to complete a large part of the exhibition on the Blacker family, thanks to the research by local historian James Kane.  The Blacker Family have a detailed history and comprising it down for the benefit of the exhibition was quite a task.  James Kane published a book on the family in 1995 titled “For God and the King” – The Story of the Blackers of Carrickblacker.  The book provided us with a detailed overview of the timeline and family tree of the Blacker Family.

Lt Col Stewart Ward William Blacker

Shillington Family

The Shillington Family were important in the development of Portadown through the family business T A Shillington & Son.  During the First World War, the family were influential in the war effort.  Major David Graham Shillington led the way along with his son Tom and nephew Geoffrey.  His nephew, Geoffrey St George Shillington Cather, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery on the Western Front.  The Family was also influential in the Orange Institution in Portadown, particularly the women.

Louisa Shillington

Women’s influence

For the first time the development of the Women’s Orange Institution in Portadown will be documented through this exhibition.  The exhibition will document the heritage of both families and how they came together in the First World War.

Launch Night

The ‘Shillington and Blacker Families of Portadown’ exhibition will launch in Edenderry Orange Hall on Wednesday 26th June at 7:30pm.  Everyone is welcome to come along and light refreshments will be served.  The exhibition will be going to other venues in the next few months before it becomes a permanent feature in Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre.

The Launch night is kindly being facilitated by Jessie Collen Memorial WLOL 101.  The Collen family have close links with the Shillington family and the exhibition explores this link in great detail.

If any Lodges or groups would like to facilitate the exhibition in their halls, then please feel free to get in touch with our office.

Funding

This exhibition has been made possible through funding received by Portadown Heritage Tours from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

Portadown Heritage Tours is also supported by Peace IV funding.

 

Summer Tour Bookings: All you need to know

Summer Tour Bookings: All you need to know

All you need to know about our Summer Tour Bookings.

Bookings for our summer season of tours are now starting to come in.  Since Portadown Heritage Tours was launched in 2017 we have had some great visitors from across the world with genelogical links to the town.

This year is no different.  We are already working on some genealogical research for visitors coming to the town this summer to research their family roots.  A lot of them have had family members in early generations who were in the Loyal Orders.  The family members may not have much knowledge on the Loyal Orders.  We take them on a historical journey and provide as much information as we can.

Tours available to book this summer.

We provide three main tours.  The tour of Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre, Portadown Town Walking Tour and The Siege of Drumcree Tour.  The Siege of Drumcree Tour and Carleton Street Orange Hall Tour are proving popular this year.  For the summer months only, we are offering these two tours as a package tour.  Within this package we provide refreshments to visitors.  We do recommend small bookings of up to four people to get the best experience.

The Portadown Town Walking Tour is a great experience to learn about the development of the town from the plantation years.  The tour follows the story of the ‘Hub of the North’ and the great industrial heritage that led to the town earning that title. Once again we do recommend small groups for the best experience.

General Information and bookings

We are finding that a lot of visitors now are booking all three tours together.  This is great to see although if you are doing that we recommend spreading the tours over a couple of days.  There is quite a lot to take in on the tours and it can be quite intense to do all three in one day.  Although if you thoroughly enjoy history some visitors may not mind this!

There are some dates throughout the summer that the tours are not available. This is due to cultural celebrations within the Loyal Orders.  Those dates are listed below:

  • Saturday 8th June
  • Thursday 11th July – Monday 15th July
  • Saturday 10th August
  • Saturday 21st September-Saturday 28th September

Portadown Heritage Tours operate through donations.  We do have set prices in place for refreshments provided. We have recommended donations for each tour.  For bookings and more information contact our office on 38332010 or book online at www.portadownheritagetours.co.uk.

Launching a new twist to the town tour for families.

In June we will also be launching a Family Fun Town Trail.  This will take the theme of a treasure trail and will be available on certain days throughout the summer.

 

 

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

 

 

New Exhibition at Carleton Street Orange Hall

New Exhibition at Carleton Street Orange Hall

Portadown Heritage Tours are hosting the Memorials to Sacrifice Exhibition at Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre for the month of February.

The Memorials to Sacrifice Exhibition highlights Orange Halls, throughout Northern Ireland, that were built as memorials in the aftermath of the Great War.  ‘Memorials to Sacrifice’ is the latest initiative by the Museum of Orange Heritage marking the centenary of the Armistice, and the contribution of members of the Orange Institution on the front line.

Why the Exhibition is so important to Carleton Street Orange Hall.

Carleton Street Orange Hall and Heritage Centre has its own story to tell about it’s place in the Great War and the many Orangemen of Portadown District who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who came home again.

Carleton Street Orange Hall is home to the Ex-Servicemen’s Lodge and Preceptory of Portadown District.  The Lodge was formed in 1946 after the Second World War and the Preceptory was formed a couple of years later in 1949.  Its members were made up of First and Second World War Veterans.  This year Portadown Ex-Servicemen’s RBP 326 will celebrate its 70th Anniversary.

The reasons these Memorial halls were built after the war reflect the same meaning behind the formation of the Ex-Servicemen’s Lodge.  It was a place ex-soldiers could socialise, reminisce and have a brotherhood after the armed forces.

 

History behind the Exhibition

It is estimated upwards of 20 halls owned or primarily used by Orange Lodges were erected as memorials to Orangemen who paid the supreme sacrifice during the First World War.  Such properties remain actively used by the Institution at locations across Northern Ireland, including Randalstown, Muckamore, Tullylish, Templepatrick, Dungannon and Ballymacarrett in East Belfast.

Accompanying Booklet

There is an accompanying booklet with the exhibition which can be purchased.  The Booklet states;

“The War Memorial Orange Halls were not just erected to provide a meeting place for Lodges and Preceptories, they also provided a place where Ex-Servicemen could meet to socialise and to reminisce.  They also provided a place in which the core values of the Orange Order could be presented to members of the local community”.

The halls were often built by the brethren or by Ex-Servicemen and often had facilities-for example, washrooms, toilets, central heating, electricity- that were still absent in many residential properties.

 

Commenting on the exhibition, museum curator Jonathan Mattison said “We are delighted to launch this educational national travelling exhibition and informative booklet, which underlines the extent and contribution of Orangeism to the Great War, and its lasting legacy for local communities.

Opening Times

The exhibition will be on show in the Heritage Centre of Carleton Street Orange Hall for the month of February.  It will be open Monday-Thursday 9:15am until 4:15pm and Friday 9:15am until 1:15pm.  For visitors who can’t make it during the day, it was also be open on Tuesday and Thursday evenings 7:30pm until 8:30pm.

Everyone Welcome!

For parents and guardians, there is also a Kids activity corner available with lots of  fun activities relating to the Great War.  This will keep the kids busy allowing the parents and guardians time to enjoy the exhibition.

 

Exhibition Information provided by Museum of Orange Heritage. 

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