TANDRAGEE DISTRICT L.O.L. No.4

 

 

Tandragee District consists of 21 working Lodges, meeting in 20 Orange Halls plus a District Hall in the town of Tandragee. The District also covers the villages of Scarva, Poyntzpass and Laurelvale and the Hamlets of Acton, Clare and Ahorey. There are numerous townlands in the rural area. The District is noted for the formation of a "Ring" every Twelfth of July morning when all the Lodges gather their banners in order of numbers to form an outer circle and the Worshipful and Deputy Masters form an inner circle around the Open Bible. This ceremony is carried out at the head of the wide Main Street in front of the War Memorial beside the Castle Gates. The District Bannerette has a painting of Tandragee Castle, which was built by the Dukes of Manchester.

 

DISTRICT MASTERS

 

 

1893 JAMES HENRY
1894 JAMES HEAKE
1897 REV. WILLIAM J. JOHNSTON
1905 THOMAS McCOMB
1906 REV. ROBERT J. WHAN
1929 REV. CANON PERCY MARKS
1945 R. D. MEREDITH
2003 MARK DIFFIN
1974 WILLIAM F. McCLELLAND
1986 HERBERT PLUNKETT
1989 THOMAS ASTON
1990 SIDNEY McILDOON
1994 LESLIE McTURK
1997 JOHN ADAIR
2000 RICHARD WHITTEN

 

The Minute Books of the District in the possession of the Officers go back to 1898, when coincidentally the Twelfth was held in Tandragee. The Demonstration in 1996 was the 15th Twelfth in Tandragee since 1898, not counting two Twelfths during the First World War at Ahorey in 1915 and Clare in 1917 for Tandragee District only. Tandragee District also hosted the Twelfth at Drumbanagher in 1932 and attended a Twelfth at Poyntzpass in 1948 organised by Loughbrickland District.

The major crisis for Ulster Protestants in the early years of the Century was, of course, the Home Rule Crisis leading to the Partition of Ireland. Some extracts from the District Minutes give an indication of the seriousness of those times: For Example: 1906 The Duke of Manchester was criticised for supporting the Liberals in Parliament at a District meeting. "In regard to his official connections with the Liberal Government, his Grace explained that the Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannennan, in giving the Duke an appointment, said that Home Rule would not come up for settlement until an appeal to the electors was made".
( Could this be an early example of Government being "economical with the truth"?)

2nd Sept 1912 Special District Meeting. Rev. Whan in the Chair. A letter was read from Bro. Crozier, Co. Grand Secretary, regarding a Demonstration in Portadown on 25th Sept when Sir Edward Carson, Lord Londonderry and other Unionist leaders will address the meeting. It was arranged that the whole District shall go in one body meeting in Tandragee on that day at I o'clock PM and walk to Shamrock Park. One pound to be given to the band. One shilling levy on each of the 22 Lodges. A committee was appointed to confer with representatives of Tandragee, Clare, and Mullavilly Unionist Clubs as to what steps we together will take in unison on 25th and also arrangements for Ulster Day. Special services for Ulster Day should be held by Bro. Rev. Whan in Clare Presbyterian Church; Bro. Rev McEndoo in Tandragee Parish Church; Mullavilly Parish Church by Rev. C. Dempsey; Ahorey Presbyterian Church or Orange Hall. (Ulster Day was the day the Covenant was signed)

The Minutes of 14th October 1912 indicate how the Orangemen intended to meet the crisis:

"The Brethren of the neighbouring Lodges and any Unionist Clubs willing to come to meet for Drill in the Manchester Hall on Sat evening 19th inst under Command of His Grace the Duke of Manchester at 6-30 PM". (This marks the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force in the Tandragee area.)

The last Twelfth before the war was held at Tynan Abbey in 1914 for the entire County and the District travelled by train. There were no County parades during the First World War, but in 1915 the District met on Sunday 11 th July in the grounds of Harrybrook House at Clare for an open air service and had a parade to Ahorey on the Twelfth with 2 bands, and only 2 flags. No banners were carried. Grand Lodge forbade any Parade in 1916 on account of the loss of life at the Somme. In 1917 the District walked to Clare and held it's own demonstration in the Manse grounds. The Minutes for 1917 record a resolution of sympathy to our County Grand Master, Sir James Stronge and Lady Stronge, on the instantaneous death on the Battlefield of Cambrai in Flanders of their only son, Bro Matthew Stronge, Deputy County Grand Secretary of Armagh.

In 1923 the District went by train to Newry to take part in a two-County Twelfth Demonstration (Armagh and Down) as a mark of respect for Protestant families massacred by the IRA at Altnaveigh the previous year.

During the Second World War from 1940 to 1944 no demonstrations were held. The Twelfth resumed again in 1945 when the District invited Gilford to join them in Tandragee.

The Twelfth returned to Tandragee in 1947 when Portadown, Lurgan, Markethill, Loughgall, and Richhill took part (Armagh and Newtownhamilton went to Keady).

In 1955 the District travelled by train for the last time when they went to Lurgan.

On 29th September 1962 the entire District went to Belfast for the Covenant Jubilee Parade to Balmoral Showgrounds.

In the recent troubled period of terrorist attack and political crisis several Orange Halls in the District have been damaged and several members of the Orange District wounded and murdered. The District attended the protest rallies in Belfast, Hillsborough, and Dungannon to show our continued opposition to the undemocratic imposition of a kind of Joint Authority on the Province by the Anglo-Irish Diktat.

Two members of the District have been elected to serve as Member of Parliament for County Armagh - Bro J.R.E. Harden MP 1948 to 1954 and Bro J.E. Maginnis MP 1959 to 1974.

In the present period of IRA terrorist activity, universally known as "The Troubles", there have been four members of the District murdered by the Provos:

Bro. Richard Alan Baird, LOL 116,
RUC Constable, blown up in a landrover at Bessbrook in 1979.

Bro. Fred Morton, LOL 60,
RUC Reserve, ambushed outside Newry while driving a breadvan in 1983.

Bro. Trevor George Elliott, LOL 116,
RUC Reserve, murdered in a car-bomb incident at Belleek in 1984.

Bro. William Whitten, LOL 305,
died of 90% burns sustained in a firebomb attack on the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle.

In addition 10 relatives of Orangemen have been killed, and 5 Orangemen of this District have been wounded. Tannaghmore, Marlacoo and Tullymacann Orange Halls have been attacked by terrorists in 1991 and 1992.

THE HILLS OF TANDRAGEE

0 listen a while my countrymen and hear my latest news
Although my song is sorrowful I hope you'll me excuse
I left my peaceful residence a foreign land to see
I said goodbye to Ballylisk likewise to Tandragee.

Brave stalwart men around me stood, each comrade kind and true,
And as I clasped each well known hand, to bid my last adieu,
I says my fellow countrymen, I hope you'll soon be free
And raise the Orange Flag proudly o'er the Hills of Tandragee.

No more among the Sycamore I'll hear the blackbird sing
No more to me the brown Cuckoo will welcome back the Spring
No more I'll see your fertile fields and weeping willow tree
Nor raise the Orange Flag proudly o'er the Hills of Tandragee.

God bless you dear old County Armagh my own dear native land
In dreams I often see your hills and lovely orchards grand
And though three thousand miles do lie between yon hills and me,
You'll raise the Orange Flag proudly o'er the Hills of Tandragee.

May peace and plenty reign supreme upon Lough Erne's shore
May discord live forever in Ulster's homes no more
And may the time soon come around when I return to thee
To raise the Orange Flag proudly o'er the Hills of Tandragee.


THE BOYNE SOCIETY

The "History of The Royal Arch Purple Order" explains how the "Boyne Society" pre-dates the Orange Order. Other societies formed soon after the end of the williamite wars in Ireland in 1691 were the Williamite Club in Dublin and the Prentice Boys in Londonderry. However the Boyne Society which seems to have started in Enniskillen was different from the other two in that it allowed the setting-up of branches in other parts of the country. These societies were accustomed on their anniversaries, to march under arms, through Dublin city to College Green, where, with drums beating, colours flying and with green boughs and orange cockades in their hats, they drew up in military array around the statue of King William which had been unveiled on I st July 1701 in the last year of the King's life. Having discharged a volley of small shot, they proceeded in regular order to hear a sermon in one of the parish churches, after which they retired to partake of a banquet provided for the occasion, where they toasted The Glorious, Pious and Immortal Memory of the Good King William.

According to one of the first Orange Historians, Ogle Gowan, writing in 1859, the Boyne Society after the 1795 Battle of the Diamond, was incorporated into the new Orange Society and the two became indistinguishable. It is interesting to note that the statue of King William was represented on all certificates and warrants of the Orange Order. In County Armagh there is evidence that the Boyne Society continued as a separate Organisation for another 50 years. There was a branch of the Boyne Society in Tandragee.

During the years 1825 -1828 the Orange Order was banned from parading and the Grand Lodge dissolved. The Lodges continued to meet and other societies were formed so that the parades could continue. One such society was "The Brunswick Constitutional Club" and The "Newry Telegraph" in 1828 reports in detail the formation of a Brunswick Club in Tandragee when the gentlemen of the Boyne Society were present.

The special correspondent of the Newry Telegraph writes:

It has never before fallen to our lot to be present at a meeting so grand and imposing, as that which we witnessed on Friday 26th inst at Tandragee in the county Armagh, for the purpose of forming a Brunswick Constitutional Club for the town and neighbourhood.

The morning was ushered in with appropriate and martial airs on drums and other instruments; and at an early hour crowds of well-dressed farmers, manufacturers, and active yeomen began to pour in from the surrounding country.

The meeting was held in the large square of the Market Place, in which an elegant platform (about 50 feet square and richly carpeted) furnished with seats and accomodation for reporters, had been erected for the occasion. This platform was placed near the Castle gate, commanding a perfect view of the whole town and country, as far as the eye could reach.

A flag waved in the rear just over the castle gate; and immediately behind the Chair was a handsome painting of King William, headed with the words "Tandragee Brunswick Constitutional Club", and underneath "No Surrender"! The windows of the adjoining houses were thronged with elegantly dressed females, who evinced their warm concurrence in the general feeling.

At 12 o'clock the gentlemen of the Boyne Society walked in procession from their rooms, and ascended the platform.

Cecil Kilpatrick, co-writer of "the History of the Purple Order" poses an interesting question:
"Presumably these few distinguished gentlemen were the Knights of the Order. Could they even have become the Black Knights of Tandragee RBP No. I ? "


THE FIRST TWELFTH IN TANDRAGEE JULY 12th 1796.

In County Armagh the first Twelfth Demonstration after the formation of the Order in Sloan's house in Loughgall in September 1795, took place in Lurgan Park in 1796.

The Belfast Newsletter of July 15th 1796 stated:

We understand that, on Tuesday last, being the anniversary of the Battle of Aughrim, a great body of Orange Men amounting to upwards of two thousand assembled in Lurgan, and spent the day with the utmost regularity and good order."

Lord Gosford's account of the Markethill Orangemen making their way home gives a good idea of how the Order paraded at it's first Twelfth:

"One party consisting of 30 companies with banners and flags came towards this place about five o'clock in the evening marching in regular files by two by two with Orange cockades, unarmed, and by companies which were distinguished by numbers upon their flags. The party had one drum and each company had a fife and two men in front with painted wands in their hands who acted as commanders."

The Tandragee Orangemen paraded the town in the morning on their way to Lurgan. The following account is taken from the "Northern Star" newspaper of July 18th 1796. This newspaper supported the "United Irishmen"- a revolutionary Organisation which believed in the ideas of the French Revolution - and as such it gives a very hostile account of the first Twelfth in Tandragee.

Happening to be yesterday in Tandragee, I saw with feeling and honest indignation, a grand division or party of Orange or Break-of-day men who, on pretence of celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, were, in reality, celebrating their own disgrace and degradation of their country.

The procession consisted of fourteen companies, each with ensigns and devices emblematical of the occasion, and formed a motley group of Turncoats, Methodists, Seceders, and High churchmen at least double all the rest, with a multitude of boys and country trolls cheering up the lagging heroes.

The pious Rector of the parish was seen bringing up the rear, conversing delightfully with the most ragamuffin of them, exulting in the happy sight, and praying for their success - as much as to say, 'Go on my boys and prosper; fear not, I am with you, glorious defenders of the faith!' How man can thus divest himself of all sense of shame, honour, religion, and humanity, or how such miscreants can be encouraged to show their faces in open day, is what I can't explain. I could not help observing that the Harp was thrown to some neglected corner of their standards, or trod on by a furious great man on horseback. Poor Ireland! said I, Thank God, in the other counties of Ireland they order things otherwise."

We can all laugh now at the obvious bias and hate -in this account, especially at the description of King Billy as " a furious great man on horseback", but the account does give us one useful piece of information - that in 1796 there were 14 Lodges in Tandragee District.


TANDRAGEE DISTRICT AND THE LAMBEG TRADITION

 

So let the drums rattle, the summons to battle,
The Protestant boys will carry the day."

This verse from a popular Orange ballad should remind Orangemen and their friends and supporters of an old tradition which is alive and well in Tandragee District. Lainbeg drums are no longer a feature of the Belfast procession, because they slowed the pace, but anyone who attends the Twelfth in Tandragee will certainly remember them. You may love them or hate them, but you can't ignore them - and the same can be said of Tandragee folk themselves.


The forerunner of the Lambeg was a large war drum, used in battle in much the same way as the bugle or bagpipes: to put heart into the troops, fear into the enemy, and to transmit orders on a noisy battlefield. "Large drums" were brought to Ulster by the Dutch Blue Guards Regiment which accompanied King William on his way to the Boyne. These were probably stave drums, about the size of the present-day bass drum, but made of staves like a barrel, and they were heavier than the Lambeg as we know it. In any event they mightly impressed the local Ulstermen who turned out to cheer the Dutch Deliverer on his way, for after the Williamite Wars, the stave drum, in conjunction with the fife, was adopted by the Williamite Societies which were the forerunners of the Orange Order formed in 1795.

Thus the drums provided a link between the newly-founded Orange Order and the monarch who gave us "our freedom, religion, and laws". They were used not only in Orange processions, but also provided a rallying call to meetings at the Worshipful Master's house, and signalled to the surrounding populace that a Lodge was on the move.

However, few things are so good that they can't be improved upon, and by the mid nineteenth century larger, lighter drums were being tried out, although they were still being beaten with round-headed sticks similar to the tenor drumsticks of today. There is a story that these new drums were brought back by soldiers returning from the North-West Frontier of India. It is because these new drums were initially made at Lambeg , near Lisburn, that they have been called "Lambegs" ever since.

On 12th July 1870 the distinctive sound of the Lambeg as we know it was born, when the drums were beaten with canes for the first time. To quote Richard Hayward: "The noise is terrific and infectious as the measles!"

The drum consists of a round shell of oak (American oak is best), two goatskin "heads", and two wooden "hoops" which are placed over the goatskins and pulled tight across the shell with a rope lacing. So first catch your two adult goats- Richard Hayward might give you a hint here, with his cruelly witty song about the extremely hostile resident of Drumaness whose goat mysteriously disappeared a not inordinately long time before the local Lodge was fortunate enough to acquire a new drum head!

Don't expect to turn up on the twelfth morning , pick up your canes and start drumming. Preparations begin a few days in advance when drums are put-up in the Orange hall. These are slackened at the end of each night's drumming and next evening the ropes are pulled by hand again. Of course you must learn the rythms that your Lodge uses. Each local area has it's own distinctive beat. Beginners often say little rhymes to keep the beat - these may or may not be for general consumption! After the Twelfth is over the drums are taken down by taking the hoops off the shell and removing the goatskin heads. Each drummer has his secret potion to rub down the head - some have even been rumoured to use peculiar concoctions containing white of egg, and even - dare we mention it - a drop of poteen! A word of warning, however - we don't advise an experimental lick!

You may ask what you receive in return for all the anguish involved. Well, there are drumming contests, organised by the five different Drumming Associations, the largest of which are the Down and Armagh Association, the Glenavy Association (which includes the Lisburn area), and the Moneymore Association (Cookstown area). These contests are a development of the last 30 years and some take place in village streets, while the majority are held in Orange Halls. There are cups and money prizes - but don't book your holiday in the Bahamas just yet! Really the rewards are more spiritual than material. There is simply nothing to compare with standing in the middle of a ring of drummers all in full wallop. You will still hear those drums long after you have wended your half-deafened way home. Do not laugh at thejudges who bend so solemnly first to one side of the drum and then to the other. They are just checking that the tension of the drumheads is the same and the drum is level.

Whole families have been gripped by the lure of the Lambeg for generations, handing down the expertise from parent to child. In recent years there has been something of a revival of the drumming art and many young people have taken it up. The cost of hiring bands, or starting Lodge bands of their own , has persuaded many Lodges to maintain the Lambegs. One thing is certain - flute, pipe, accordion, and brass bands can be found in all the countries of the world. But the relentless, inspiring beat of the Lambeg is, uniquely, the voice of Ulster.


THE NAME TANDRAGEE

Tandragee comes from the Gaelic Toin re gaoith and means "backs to the wind" referring to the main street built on the side of a hill. It has had many spellings over the years such as:

TONERIGEE, TAWNTAGLEE, TON-LE-AGLEE, TONTLEGEE, AND TANDERAGEE.

The modern spelling is supposed to come from the English servants employed years ago at the Castle who spoke "posh" and "proper". Hence it is usually spelt "TANDRAGEE" nowadays.

A nineteenth century geography book described Portadown as "a small village near Tanderagee", giving us an idea of their relative sizes then.

Tandragee's motto is "Tandragee No Pinch". This is supposed to date back to the Eighteenth Century when, owing to the management of the landlords at that time-first the Sparrow family and then the Manchesters, there was full and plenty for all and no pinching or saving. Many years ago when the town had a flax fair and buyers came from all over, they found the cows in the district had all gone dry, and some wag enlarged the motto to read "Tandragee No Pinch, All Water, and No Milk"


LINES ON THE DEATH OF REV. BRO. WHAN.


Composed by Joseph Fowler, Mullahead, Tandragee

Cold death has taken the Rev. Whan, an Orangeman kind and true,
Who never was afraid to wear the Scarlet, Green, and Blue,
But God has taken his spirit back to the place from whence it came,
And what is Loyalty's greatest loss, we pray is his eternal gain.

And when the last trumpet sounds his body will arise,
Transformed, incorruptible, to meet the Saviour in the skies,
And when the sun and moon are changed, also the earth and sea,
He will live in Heaven with celestial joy to all eternity.

Over 46 years he was the Presbyterian Minister in Old Clare near Tandragee,
Also a sterling member of No. 1 Royal Black Preceptory;
For in Glasgow, on the Platform, he condemned Gladstone's Home Rule Bill,
And said that Ulster would oppose it to death, with all their power and skill.

He was Chaplain to the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and to the County also,
And District Master of Tandragee, and he feared no rebel foe,
For in the Pulpit he spoke the truth, on the Platform, and in the Hall,
And his Request was NO SURRENDER, and for GOD TO BLESS US ALL

On the day of his great funeral it was consolable for to see
The brethren who did attend the sad call that came from Tandragee
To come and pay their last respect to him, and what more could they do
To honour that sterling and radiant Pillar of Gideon's Chosen Few.

Our Sovereign Grand Master, Sir William Allen, did attend the sad call,
And so did the brethren of Armagh, Markethill and Loughgall.
Also brethren from Keady and Poyntzpass and Loyal Portadown,
With Scarva and Loughbrickland, Gilford and Newry Town.

May God bless his loyal Neice, who is left in sorrow to mourn,
And comfort her with his Holy Spirit, for her good Friend will not return;
Also to give us all power to cultivate Hope, Charity, Faith and Love,
Trusting we will all be members with him in the Great Grand Lodge above.

Sold in aid of Lord Enniskillen Memorial Orphan Fund

Price 2d

 

 

 

PRIVATE LODGES

 

 

BALLYMORE L.O.L. No.32

 

CORDRAIN L.O.L. No.53B BIBLE AND CROWN DEFENDERS

SCARVA SONS OF WILLIAM L.O.L. No.60

TEEMORE GOLDEN SPRINGS L.O.L. No.61

AUGHLISH HEROES L.O.L. No.74

LISAVAGUE L.O.L. No.76

CLARE CONQUERING HEROES L.O.L. No.102

BEER'S TRUE BLUES L.O.L. No.105

TYRONE'S DITCHES PURPLE GUARDS L.O.L. No.108

TULLYMACAN RISING SONS OF WILLIAM L.O.L. No.110

TULLYHUE GUIDING STAR L.O.L. No.115

TERRYHOOGAN BIBLE AND CROWN DEFENDERS L.O.L. No.116

CARGANS MEMORIAL L.O.L. No.122

POYNTZPASS BIBLE AND CROWN DEFENDERS L.O.L. No.139

STAR OF BETHLEHEM L.O.L. No.203

ARK OF SAFETY L.O.L. No.251

GIDEON'S RISING STAR L.O.L. No.253

ACTON TRUE BLUES L.O.L. No.254

MOYROURKAN TRUE BLUES L.O.L. No.305a

MARLACOO RISING STAR L.O.L. No.306

TANAGHMORE PURPLE STAR L.O.L. No.312b

THE CHOSEN FEW L.O.L. No.739


 

 

County Armagh Grand Orange Lodge 2008


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