An Orange hall in Co Donegal has re-opened its doors – two years after being destroyed in an arson attack.
Convoy Orange hall was targeted by arsonists in a malicious attack on the north-west community facility in October 2014. The deliberate blaze occurred only weeks after criminals destroyed nearby Newtowncunningham Orange hall in a similar incident.
Orangemen from Thiepval Memorial LOL 1005 were joined at Saturday’s formal reopening and dedication service by senior Orangemen, including the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson. Also attending were Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning and Grand Chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson, who officiated the religious service.
The new property is larger and better equipped than its predecessor, with a meeting room, a band practice room and extra storage. It also provides sporting amenities for young people, as well as broadband facilities.
Convoy Worshipful Master Alan Laird said: “The opening of our new hall is a tremendous accomplishment for all those associated with this substantial rebuild project. The upgraded hall has been built for the use of the local community with the long term in mind. We trust it will be utilised not only by the lodge and pipe band, but also the young people of the area. We are confident the property will be a wonderful asset for east Donegal for generations to come.”
Mr Laird also commended members of the Loyal Orders from across the British Isles who contributed to the Convoy hall appeal, set up in the aftermath of the criminal act.
Mr Stevenson The Grand Master said: “It is tremendous to see this community facility rise again from the ashes and fully restored to its former glory. Its renewed and improved presence is testament to the fortitude and resilience of the Protestant and Orange fraternity in the Donegal area.
“The lodge has a proud military heritage, most notably during the Great War, and therefore it is particularly fitting that such a redevelopment occur in this, the centenary year of the Battle of the Somme.”
Convoy lodge was formed in 1919 as a lasting memorial to local men who fell during the Great War. The original hall was named the Thiepval Memorial Orange Hall in 1930. Many from the local area served King and country during the First World War in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Some of their descendants are members of the lodge today.
Samuel Parker, whose father helped build the original hall, also attended.