TODAY may be July 12 but the only Orange march in the Republic has already taken place — and the organisation aims to open lodges as far south as Bandon in west Cork.
About 6,000 members of the Orange Institution — better known as the Orange Order — attended an annual parade in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal on Saturday. Members of some 45 Orange lodges from the Republic took part.
The participants were from lodges based in the border counties of Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim and Donegal but also included members of the Dublin and Wicklow Loyal Orange Lodge 1313 and some visitors from the North.
Some of the Order’s members would like to see a parade held in Dublin.
The last Orange parade in Dublin took place in 1937. In 2000, a proposed parade was cancelled due to persistent objections from various groups.
“I do think it’s time we had our parade, like any other citizen of the State, in Dublin,” says Chris Thackaberry, an Orangeman from inner city Dublin.
“Thankfully, we’re in a state that is, regarding regulation around parades, very tolerant.
“Anybody can hold a demonstration once it’s lawful.”
Some in the order argue that many other groups hold events to celebrate their contribution to diversity and tolerance in the country. Parades and events including Gay Pride and the Festival of World Cultures have become staples of the Irish summer in recent years.
Next year will see the re-opening of a lodge in Trinity College Dublin.
The warrant for the lodge is being re-issued by the Grand Orange Lodge in Belfast, having been retired in 1969.
“There is a growing interest among university students at present,” says Reverend Stanley Gamble, chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
“Following the success of the Orange Society and Orange Lodge at Queen’s University Belfast, plans are being made for an Orange Society and Orange Lodge at Trinity College Dublin.
“At Queen’s, the Orange Society is officially recognised and funded by the university. This has allowed students from various backgrounds and faiths to explore and understand the Orange tradition.
“We are using the social networking site, Facebook, to gauge what interest there is out there for a similar venture at Trinity.
“So far the TCD Orange Lodge page has generated 70 Facebook friends with messages of support. It would be great to see the Orange tradition revived at Trinity, and it looks like it will be.”
Reverend Gamble says that there has been renewed interest in Orangeism from Protestants in the Republic due to the peace process and there are hopes that a lodge might re-open as far south as Bandon in west Cork.
“There are a number of members from Cork in the Dublin lodge. And we are witnessing growing interest from that county. It is hoped that in the near future a Cork lodge can be revived once more and that the old Orange Hall in Bandon can be re-opened with the help of the Irish Government.”
The Rossnowlagh parade takes place every year on the Saturday before July 12, which is a public holiday in the North.