An Orange hall in Co Donegal has re-opened its doors – exactly four years after being destroyed in an arson attack.
Newtowncunningham Orange hall was targeted in a malicious attack on the north-west community facility in September 2014. The deliberate blaze occurred only weeks before criminals destroyed nearby Convoy Orange hall in a similar incident.
Brethren from Newtowncunningham True Blues LOL 1063 were joined at a dedication service by senior Orangemen on Friday evening, including the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson. Also, in attendance were Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning and Grand Secretary, Rev Mervyn Gibson, who performed the dedication.
The new and improved Orange property is both larger and better equipped than its predecessor, incorporating a main hall, kitchen and meeting room, as well as broadband facilities. Plans are also at an advanced stage to incorporate a small museum in the future.
Significantly, a memorial tablet in honour of local Orangemen who paid the supreme sacrifice in World War One which was damaged in the arson attack, has been restored and is on display again in the refurbished hall. The lodge Bible, found among the charred debris, has also been reinstated. A new lodge banner was dedicated last year.
Newtowncunningham Deputy Master, Stewart McClean, expressed his delight at the completion of the major rebuilding project.
He said: “The opening of our new hall is a tremendous accomplishment for all those associated with this substantial rebuild, and is a defining and historic moment for our lodge. The upgraded property has been built for use by the local community and will be utilised not only by the lodge and accordion band, but also a range of groups and organisations in the area. We are confident the hall will be a wonderful asset for east Donegal for generations to come.”
Mr McClean also conveyed his appreciation, on behalf of the lodge, to the Republic of Ireland Government who contributed financially towards the hall reconstruction.
Mr Stevenson, who officially re-opened the building, offered his congratulations to the members of Newtowncunningham lodge.
The Grand Master said: “It is tremendous to see this community facility rise again from the ashes and fully restored to its former glory. Its renewed and improved presence is testament to the fortitude and resilience of the Protestant and Orange fraternity in the Donegal area.
“The lodge has a proud military heritage, most notably during the Great War, and therefore it is particularly fitting that such a redevelopment occur in this, the centenary year of the Armistice.
“The new hall will stand as not only a tribute to those former members, but also in its everyday operation will provide a lasting legacy for future generations.”
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