In recent years we have witnessed a renewed interest in Orangeism from people in the Republic of Ireland. This is due to Irish Protestants rediscovering their roots and feeling able to be who they are once more. This has been a result of the peace process and the improved relations between the UK and Ireland.
We enjoyed immensely the state visit of Her Majesty the Queen to Ireland and as Orangemen we were delighted to be a part of the wreath laying ceremony at Islandbridge and the State Banquet at Dublin Castle. President Mary McAleese’s efforts have also helped people to feel that they can be Irish and British, Irish and Orange. A new Irish identity, which is broad and inclusive is hopefully emerging.
The most southerly Orange lodge at present is our very own Dublin and Wicklow L.O.L. 1313. We are a very progressive lodge, with our own website and newsletter. We hold an annual Church service each year and we were out on parade on Saturday at the seaside resort of Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal, and on Tuesday at the Belfast Orangefest. Although we meet in Dublin, we have members from all over Ireland including Cork, Longford, Carlow, Limerick, and Tipperary.
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 reopened with the help of the Irish government.
There is also a growing interest among university students at present. 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. This has proved very beneficial for all concerned, creating better community awareness and understanding. The Orange lodge is a separate entity that is officially recognised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, and is made up of students who are Orangemen.
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. The Dublin Orange Lodge also has a facebook page with 259 friends. So there is certainly a growing interest out there.