The Orange Order has overseen the purchase of an historically significant piece of woodland in a Co Armagh hamlet, and has set about returning it to former glories.
The site of almost 40 acres known as The Glen owes its existence to the once thriving linen factory in Glenanne and was widely used by workers and their families as a rare opportunity for leisurely walks.
Having fallen into disrepair the woodland site went up for sale in 2016 at which point the Orange Order in the progressive thinking Markethill district put together a plan for its resurgence.
Glenanne Development Association was formed under the direction of Glenanne Crown Prince LOL 133 with the group consisting of members of the lodge alongside people representing the Glenanne community.
Adam Copeland is a member of both the lodge and the development association along with his father Alan.
The 22-year-old said: “The purchase of The Glen came about when the landowners in the area, the Smith family, passed away.
“It was left to the daughters – they don’t farm, they don’t live in the area.
“They decided to sell the land. It was parcelled up as agricultural land and it was to go to farmers and turn into holding pens for sheep and things like that.
“The lodge saw an opportunity and formed a development group to buy The Glen and put it back into community use.
“We had explained to the girls what we envisaged for the area.
“They really got on board with the idea of keeping it on as a legacy of what their family had done for the area.
“When it was owned by the Smith family and there was an old linen factory in it, this beautiful walkway ran the whole way through it and it was open to community use with an immaculately kept garden at the bottom of it.
“Over the past 15 to 20 years it fell into disrepair. The lodge saw an opportunity to save this space for the community. If it went on any further it would have been too far gone to work with. You could still walk parts of it, but barely.”
Adam added: “We signed the papers approximately six months ago. We’ve done a bit of work ourselves to open a new pathway and cleared existing pathways.
“The next part of the project is getting funding to really drive on and preserve it.”
Adam estimated there were up to 600 people living in Glenanne, mostly of a Protestant background, but with some long-established Catholic families.
He commented: “Everyone gets on very well. There’s this stigma about Glenanne that it’s this really sectarian place where this gang has come from, the reality is very far from that.”
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