Category Archives: Portadown

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Historical Significance of Bonfires

The Historical Significance of Bonfires

The Bonfire Tradition

Each year throughout Northern Ireland, hundreds of bonfires are lit and enjoyed in a safe manner by many people.  Although if they are not built properly, they can cause damage to property.

The tradition of building bonfires in Portadown goes right back to the 1830’s.  According to our archives, It was around this time that the first Arches also started to appear throughout the town.  The two traditions have developed together throughout the years.

Bonfires are lit around the world at different times of the year to celebrate many different occasions.

Timeline of the Bonfire

Bonfires have been around since the start of mankind.  In Ancient times, Bonfires were not only used for warmth, cooking and light, but they also became a centre of social activity and a religious and spiritual ritual.  In essence it became a tradition of remembrance and celebration.

When Christianity was brought to the Island of Ireland sometime before the 5th century,  it caused a shift in religious belief.  Instead of the ancient tradition of ‘fire worshipers’, a bonfire became significant on feast days and other religious holidays.  The whole community would come together around a bonfire and praise God.

Military use of a Bonfire

The military first started using Bonfires in the 1500’s.  Fire and light have always been used as a means of communicating and signalling.  The military would often use bonfires as a way of signalling that danger was approaching.

The Bonfire and Orangeism

William III Prince of Orange, landed at Torbay in England on 5th November 1688.  William came at the request of the people.  They wanted  King James II removed from the throne. The people also wanted  their rights restored as subjects. Their rights had been taken from them by James.  William agreed to a new Bill of Rights.  This became the foundation of modern day democracy.  When the people heard of William and Mary’s coronation, Bonfires were lit all over Ulster in Celebration.

In June 1690, William and his army landed at Carrickfergus .  As he marched into Belfast, Bonfires were once again lit to celebrate his arrival.

The 11th Night Tradition

Bonfires are lit on the 11th July night throughout Northern Ireland.  These bonfires are a commemoration of William III’s victory over James II at the Battle of The Boyne. The Bonfires are a tradition that represent the Bonfires lit in celebration of William’s coronation and also his landing at Carrickfergus.  But the Bonfires also represent the camp fires lit by William’s army the night before the Battle of The Boyne.  The Battle was fought on 1st July, but changes to the Christian calendar mean the anniversary is now celebrated on the 12th July.

Other Historical events in Northern Ireland

Bonfires were lit to celebrate the defeat of the First Home Rule Bill in 1886.  In 1945, to celebrate Victory in Europe day (VE), Bonfires were also lit throughout Northern Ireland.  They were a focal point of the celebrations as large street parties were also held throughout communities.

Bonfires Today

Bonfires in the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist community are a means of maintaining tradition and are an expression of cultural heritage.  It is a tradition that is passed down the generations.  For the areas of Portadown that host Bonfires, it is a community event that brings together the generations.  It is around those fires on the 11th night that people come together to celebrate their history.  It is also an opportunity for the older generation to have a yarn and reminisce about the old days of building the bonfire.

The Stories are told of days gone by. The days of going out to collect the dead wood and trees before the days of wooden pallets being delivered by lorries!

What is not to be underestimated, is the time and effort that is given to building Bonfires.  This effort makes the continuation of tradition possible.  As Northern Ireland changes, aspects of the Bonfire will change.  It will develop and change as it has done throughout history.  What will not change for Northern Ireland Bonfires, is the heritage and history of tradition behind them.

 

 

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: Mourneview Street and Queen Street

Portadown Arches: Mourneview Street and Queen Street

The Arches of Mouneview Street and Queen Street provide a great sense of pride and community to local residents.  One thing that has become clear through our journey of discovering the heritage of the local Arches, is the amount of time and effort local residents give to the Arches. The members of the different Arches committees’ throughout the town deserve a lot of recognition for maintaining this great tradition.

Mourneview Street Arch Official Opening

Mourneview Street Arch was unveiled in July 1939 by Sir Knight Alex Adair, District Master of Portadown Royal Black Chapter. The majority of the arch was designed and constructed by Mr Wilson Binks.  The old English lettering of the inscriptions and the glass panels were completed by Mr Joseph Wright.  During the speeches at the opening, both men where congratulated on their success.

The weather conditions were particularly poor for the opening ceremony.  But that did not dampen the spirits of over 1000 people who gathered to witness the official opening.

Portadown Pipe Band and Edgarstown Accordion Band provided the music for the evening. The proceedings of the evening was led by Sir Knight and Brother R J Magowan, Worshipful Master of Edenderry LOL 322.

“It’s Lovely!”

“Isn’t it nice!”

“The Colouring and lettering are beautiful”

‘These exclamations are typical of what a bystander heard at the unveiling of Mourneview Street Arch on Thursday evening last’.

Portadown Times 14th July 1939

 

It is interesting and very appropriate to note that no fewer than nine members of the committee had the first name William; William Baxter, William (Billy) Cooper, William (Billy) Whitten Junior, William Taylor, William (Billy) Magee, William Baxter Junior, William McKeown, William Power Senior and William Power Junior.

The other members of the committee were Teddy Grimason, Arthur Magee, George Whitten, George Hodgen and George Magee.

Queen Street Arch

In 1983, a few of the local residents on the street had the idea of erecting their own Arch at the Thomas Street entrance.  A Committee was formed and a collection was made in the neighbourhood.  Planning permission was requested and granted.

An arch shed was built to store the Arch throughout the year.  The building of the shed was done on a voluntary basis mainly by Mr Paul Trouton, Mr Trevor Bonis, Mr Brian Beattie and a few others.

The Arch was sourced from the Derryadd area; one that was no longer in use.  It was then adapted in size as the steel was too short.  The steel poles were made to measure locally. The wooden structure was built to suit by residents from the street; mainly Mr Paul Trouton and Mr Trevor Bonis.

It was then painted by local residents Mr Paul Trouton, Mr Trevor Bonis and Mr Brian Beattie.  The artwork was completed by Mr Neville Austin and the electric work was completed by Mr George Trouton.  The lettering was done by a local sign-writer Mr Bracken Anderson.

Official Opening

The Queen Street Arch was officially opened on 28th June 1985 by local MP Mr Harold McCusker and dedicated by the Reverend Tom Taylor.

Portadown Defenders Flute Band provided the music during the opening ceremony and a reception was held in the Trouton Household for the dignitaries.

Maintaining the Arch

The Arch was maintained for the first fifteen years by a collection from the residents of the street, but unfortunately due to the change in the population of the area this became unfeasible.

The Arch has been put up each year since with the goodwill of the Trouton family and friends and with the kind help of The Beattie family; who look after the shed and supply the electricity.  It has been refurbished a number of times during its almost thirty five year existence.

 

Portadown Arches: Derryanvil

Portadown Arches: Derryanvil

Derryanvil Arch is located under a mile from Drumcree Parish Church.  As it is in the countryside of Portadown, it is often forgot and overlooked when it comes to the Arches of Portadown.  But the local rural community in the area are very proud of “their wee arch”.

Original Arch

An early arch was originally erected near Derrycarne Orange Hall.  According to the older generation of the area, the last time it had been up, was sometime in the 1930’s.  The old arch had been a wooden structure and was originally stored in Mr George Robinson’s hay shed.

Derrycarne Orange Hall

“It’s time we had an arch again”

In the winter of 1962, Alex Hyde and William Dillworth had a conversation about the old arch.  It was decided they would paint and restore the old arch and put it up the next July. The decision was made that instead of putting it up at the old location on the Derrycarne Road , it would be moved 2 miles to the small community at Derryanvil Crescent.  In July 1962 it was erected at the new location.  It was very much a community effort with Mr Tom Troughton and neighbours all involved.

New Arch

The Following year, in 1963, the community decided they would invest in a new metal frame arch as the old wooden arch was falling in to disrepair. Mr Tom Troughton made a new frame from box metal.  Mr William Dillworth was a great artist and he was able to draw the symbols needed for the arch.  William knew of a gentleman named Albert Drummond who was skilled at cutting figures out of sheet metal.  Once the symbols were cut, they went back to William who painted them in preparation for going on the Arch.

Opening of the New Arch

The new arch was opened on 2nd July 1963 by Herbert Whitten.  Mr Whitten was a member of the Orange Order and Royal Black Institution.  He was Worshipful Master of Portadown District LOL NO.1 from 1968 until his death in 1981.  He also held the office of Deputy Grand Master of Ireland and was Worshipful District Master of Portadown Royal Black District Chapter No.5 in the early 1960’s.

Mr Whiitten was elected to Portadown Borough Council in 1968 and was MP for Central Armagh at Stormont from 1969 until 1972.  He held office of Mayor in Portadown Borough Council from 1968-1969 and was Mayor of Craigavon Borough Council from 1977 until 1978.  He was a founding member of Portadown Housing Association and was Managing Director of T A Shillington and Sons from 1955 until his retirement in 1979.

The music for the opening of the arch was provided by Pride of the Birches Accordion Band.  The refreshments were served by the ladies of Derryanvil Crescent who had all come together to make and provide sandwiches, cakes, buns and tea.

Continuing Tradition

The Arch was improved each year by adding new metal symbols from Albert Drummond and William Dillworth.  A bonfire was originally part of the celebrations on the 11th night.  It was located in a nearby field until new bungalows were built.  The Bonfire was then moved  to the rear of Derryanvil Crescent in the 1980’s.

Unfortunately, with Derryanvill Crescent being located under a mile from Drumcree Parish Church, the annual bonfire had to be stopped in 1996 due to the stand off at Drumcree.

Drumcree Parish Church

The arch was unable to go up for two years during the early 2000’s this was due to insurance issues.  This was overcome when Derrycarne Bible and Crown Defenders LOL 78 stepped in and provided the insurance costs.

The final metal attachment was made by Albert Drummond.  It is the Bible and Crown located in the centre of the arch. It was painted by William Dillworth.  Sadly, Mr Drummond died shortly after making the Bible and Crown.

The Arch is erected every year at Derryanvil Crescent.  There is a strong unionist and Orange community in the local area including; Derryanvil, Derrycarne and Derrymacfall.  That community is very proud to have the arch displayed as a long standing tradition of their beliefs and culture.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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