Long lost Orange Banner found in the Dublin Liberties.
On cold morning in October 2019 in a small terrace house in the liberties of Dublin was found a rolled-up orange lodge banner.
St Barnabas Church Defenders Temperance Orange Lodge was the oldest warrant in Belfast. Situated in College Square Orange Hall in the city centre prior to 1800, the first name was “King William” LOL 238. Then added “temperance” to that name.
The lodge became attached to St Barnabas church in Duncairn Gardens north Belfast in the late 1800s, the Lodge was originally under the jurisdiction of Co. Antrim until Belfast became a county within its own right at the start of the 1870s under district 3 in Clifton Street. Prior to that they were one of the original 12 Belfast Lodges sitting in College Sq Orange Hall under district 1. It was shortly after World War II that the Lodge became St Barnabas church defenders prior to that they used their original name.
How did the banner end up in the liberties of Dublin? After numerous phone calls and emails to brethren across the Republic of Ireland. We finally found out how Belfast lost banner ended up in the Dublin liberties. The late brother Eddie while in Belfast. late 70s, was given the banner with the suggestion that it could be repainted for one of the Dublin lodges.
In 1979 there were five orange lodges in Dublin and our old Orange Hall in Ballsbridge, was a substantial building with five meeting rooms and a function hall that could hold 500 people. With the Hall sold and many of its interior tools for opening lodges and banners and library ended up in individual brethren homes. As the new hall did not have the storage capacity. But the story goes further than just a banner given to a Dublin Orangeman. St Barnabas Orange Lodge and the church of Ireland community it belonged to. Was situated in the area that is now the Republican New Lodge of Nth Belfast.
During the troubles the Protestant population of the area declined within a 10 year period: as peace walls were built and Belfast became a divided city. The Lodge warrant went into darkness and the banner into disuse. Eventually St Barnabas parish church would close as the Protestant population disappeared.
There is a lesson for Irish Protestants in all of this. Brother Eddie’s parish closed, the loyal Protestant population of the Liberties, Tenters, and Black Pits are no more.
An area of Dublin which witnessed the birth of the first Orange Society “Elder men of skinners alley” A thriving Protestant community was eventually assimilated, washed-out tore-out by Irish Republicanism and the Roman catholic Church. All within a few generations. Let not our history disappear into the damp attic of a republican history lesson. But let us keep it alive and active within the blood of our generation.
Dublin & Wicklow LOL 1313 are working to have the banner returned to Belfast and be put on display.
By Chris Thackaberry