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Reflections on Orange Day

As the Orange Day celebrations passed off without much incident in the North of Ireland, an unprecedented event happened “in Connaught” as the local lodge went for a “walk” unmolested and back to their local church.

The Dublin and Wicklow Orange Lodge commented that having no Parades Commission, the Republic has more freedom of assembly than Northern Ireland, which is ironic as they want all of Ireland in the UK.

Orange Order at Ardoyne, a flashpoint during marching season.
Orange Order at Ardoyne, a flashpoint during marching season.

This bodes well for the prospects of a United Ireland, as should that day pass, Orangism will still exist and possibly grow as the British identity is seen as a facet of Irishism as opposed to a threat to it.

Its not a bad thing as such, some lodges calling themselves pro-Protestant as opposed to anti-Catholic show the light forward, and reforms to prevent members been expelled for marrying a Catholic or going to a Catholic mass / funeral would ease a lot of tensions, as we had Ne Temere and a whole dose of very sectarian regulations and rules ourselves.

Patrick Duignan - one of the most voilent persecuters of Catholcism, a leading Orangeman, yet was not expelled for marrying a Catholic, nor for having a Catholic chapel in his house, shows presedent for reforming Orange lodge laws of membership and expulsion.
Patrick Duignan – one of the most voilent persecuters of Catholcism, a leading Orangeman, yet was not expelled for marrying a Catholic, nor for having a Catholic chapel in his house, shows presedent for reforming Orange lodge laws of membership and expulsion.
The most famous ex Catholic Orangeman was Patrick Duignan, born a Catholic, but in his rearing with anther family grew up Protestant, becoming Secretary of the Orange Londge. He married a Catholic, his first wife, and had a chapel in the house for her, with the local priest visiting often, and yet he was never thrown out for it, nor should he have been, so there is a precedent.

Sectarianism and Coat Trailing

The sectarianism of flag burning and putting coffins on the bonfire with effigies has even been condemned by more progressive lodges for whom the Order is a celebration of their liberties of conscience won as they see it be they right or wrong by Billy at the Boyne.

We are known for the flag blazes ourselves too to be honest, so that should probably be seen for the acts of a bigoted minority it more than often is.

Its a good move away from the actions of the past by the more respectable faces of Orangism, when truly it was a case that bonfires were fueled by hate.

Good King Billy

King Billy is known for the quote “I came to liberate the Protestants, not persecute the Catholics” and the terms of the Treaty of Limerick and its preceding Treaty of Galway, Treaty of Sligo etc was reasonably generous given the politics of the time, so much so a party in the Irish Parliment led by Bishop Anthony Dopping condemned him for being lenient to the Catholics.

Looking down on Aughrim Village from the Jacobite positions which was a carpark during the Aughrim Horse Fair
Looking down on Aughrim Village from the Jacobite positions which was a carpark during the Aughrim Horse Fair

When William and Mary passed this element had the ear of Queen Anne, of candlestick and furniture design era fame, and the Penal Laws got very tough indeed, and the wholesale tearing up of the Treaty of Limerick took place.

So Billy was a good king after all, relative to those who came after him at least, as testified by the Ultans folk who settled Longford when turned out of Armagh and Fermanagh in the 1700-1720 pogroms, told to a hostile native folk who bore the brunt of a very brutal Williamite army who ravaged the area, and so in two areas, the king had two reputations based on the actions of the army in that area.

James II army was not exclusively Catholic either, showing the truth in the argument that the Boyne was not all about religion, as the Dennistons who were to come to fame in 1798 arrived as Jacobite troops though they were Protestant.

Ireland was not the only country with penal laws, they were current in Europe against any religion opposing the ruling classes creed, most notably in Holland, famous for the Preistless Church’s and so forth.

So this Orange Day, I toast the two kings, as I did when visiting Aughrim Fair held on the site of the battle that ended the Williamite War, whose tensions had all but gone away by the time of the 1798 Rebellion…

The Wisdom of 1798 Thinking

By 1798 the tensions between Cromwellian and Williamite and Jacobite had been put to one side for the common good, be it fighting as rebels or for the Crown.

Though staunch Protestants, they saw themselves as Irish Britons, or Britons in Ireland, and to march they had no need. The OO in its inception was a tool of the Crown as opposed to a genuine voice for Protestants and the expression of their faith.

The Catholic middle classes, poor thanks to the Penal Laws but rich in their own thinking still, supported the Crown in 1798, as did the official Catholic church, it was the poor who massed against the authorities.

In truth it was Irelands first masses against the classes clash.

The Future IS Orange… and Green!

Id like to think that the future indeed is Orange, and Green, and the good work done by Ruari Ó Brádaigh in getting Loyalists to sit down and talk on their terms for a united Ireland can be built upon and restarted.

Seeing Martin McGuinness effigy on the coffin on the confire caused a lot of unrest as it was designed to. I wryly smiled, thinking of how he got Adams to thwart the talks that could have united Ireland, saved us the hunger strikes and 20 odd more years of troubles only to settle for far less, and I thought to myself… I wish I was lighting that match myself, though Irish, Catholic and Republican!

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