Prince Charles visits birthplace of Orange Order in Co Armagh

Heir to British throne is on a three day visit to Ireland with his wife Camilla

Prince Charles, on a three day visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic, has travelled to the birthplace of the Orange Order in Co Armagh.

After meeting the First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Hillsborough Castle, Prince Charles took part in a number of engagements on Tuesay, including touring the Museum of Orange Heritage at Sloan's House in Loughgall,

The prince, who on Wednesday is visiting Donegal with his wife Camilla, was joined by senior members of the Orange Order in Loughgall, by Ms Foster and by Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys.

Orange Order members brought him on a tour of the museum including taking him into the original parlour where the first warrants were signed in 1795, marking the formation of the loyal institution.


He was also shown a pair of King William’s riding gauntlets and a letter penned by the Dutch king prior to his arrival in Ireland in 1690, ahead of the Battle of the Boyne.


He also viewed the adjoining memorial garden, which was created to honour and remember members of the Order in Co Armagh who were killed during the Troubles. A total of 333 Orange Order members died during the conflict. The prince planted an apple tree in the garden.

Among the musicians to greet Prince Charles were two Lambeg drummers and members of Drumderg Flute Band, who serenaded the royal visitor with a repertoire of tunes, including ‘God Bless the Prince of Wales’.

The drums played by James Russell and Kyle Dowey featured images of Queen Victoria and King George V.

Prince Charles was welcomed by the Orange Order grand master Edward Stevenson and the Co Armagh grand master Denis Watson.

“We were delighted and honoured to welcome His Royal Highness to the Museum of Orange Heritage in Loughgall,” said Mr Stevenson.

“Since opening last summer, Sloan’s House is proving to be a popular cultural resource and attraction for the entire community. Complementing our larger museum in Belfast, visitors to both sites have the opportunity to learn and engage with a rich, vibrant and evolving tradition that has played a significant role in Irish, British and world history,” he added.

Mr Watson explained that the roots of Orangeism “emanated from within the confines of a modest Co Armagh dwelling following the Battle of the Diamond” in 1795 near Loughgall – a sectarian confrontation between the Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys and the Catholic Defenders. It is estimated that 30 Catholics were killed in the battle while there were no Protestant casualties.

Glenveagh Castle

In Donegal on Wednesday Prince Charles and Camilla will visit Magee's of Donegal Town. They will then travel on to Letterkenny where the prince will visit the Letterkenny Institute of Technology while Camilla will visit a local school. They will conclude their Donegal trip with a visit to Glenveagh Castle and national park.

A spokesman for Clarence House, Prince Charles’s private office, said: “The visits will recognise the warm friendship that exists between both countries, promoting understanding of their respective heritage and celebrating the best that each has to offer.”

Ms Humphreys said she was “delighted” to visit the Orange museum. “This is what I do in terms of commemorations and reaching out and being inclusive,” she said.

Ms Humphreys said the prince’s visit to both sides of the Border reinforced how good were the relations between Britain and Ireland. “Relations have never been better between the two islands ,” she said.

Ms Humphreys added that she was also looking forward to greeting Prince Charles and Camilla at Glenveagh. “It will also be good for Donegal from a tourism perspective; it showcases Donegal.”

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times