There were scenes of celebration on Friday evening at Kildoag Orange Hall, where several hundred brethren, bandsmen and their family members gathered for the 80th anniversary of Kildoag Orange Hall.
Torrential rain earlier in the day gave way to a pleasant evening, which began with a mile-long parade by the Lodge, from Ardground, headed by Kildoag Pipe Band.
Thankfully the rain stayed away allowing the formalities and speeches to be conducted outside.
The MC for the occasion was Worshipful Master Gavin McCombe, who welcomed the dignitaries and guests for the anniversary celebration.
He especially welcomed Kildoag Lodge member Willie Scobie, who witnessed the opening of the hall 80 years ago, at the age of just seven.
Mr McCombe then welcomed his father, Stanley McCombe to the stage to give a brief history of the hall to the gathering.
Following the opening of the hall, at the October meeting in 1935, a contract to plaster the outside of the hall was agreed at a cost of £40.
“The name went up on the front of the hall in September 1946 and in December 1946 it was passed at a meeting to accept a contract price of £110 from Dickies of Londonderry to paint the hall,” he said.
Bro McCombe said the hall was well used for dances every month, with bus loads arriving from the city to dance to the music of the Charlie Butler Band, Trevor Owens Band and Willie Campbell Big Band. A down time followed, as the big showbands could not fit into the hall and alcohol frowned upon.
In 2011 a new pipe band was started by Bro David Campbell and his son Alan, and at the idea was mooted to give the hall a facelift. The hall was dry lined, got new doors, windows, lighting, fire alarm, a new kitchen and was painted, and a disabled access was installed together with a new floor.
“The hall is used as never before, with a band once or twice a week, Lodge meetings, the ladies group, a history group, bingo twice every month and a culture group,” said Bro McCombe.
The Act of Dedication was performed by Rev David McBeth, who also led prayer and spoke about his family’s own links to the hall.
Greetings were brought to the Kildoag Brethren by No 2 District Master Donald Eakin and by the City Grand Master, Bro James Hetherington.
Presentations were also made to Flora Magee, MBE, of Arc North West, for her assistance in expanding the remit of the hall in recent years and for her advice and support.
Following the formalities the dignitaries and guests were invited to a sumptuous tea upstairs in the hall and a suitably decorated anniversary cake was cut.