‘Our Loyalty is Not For Barter’
Portadown Heritage Tours hosted a very successful Orange Heritage Week in Carleton Street Orange Hall with ‘Our Loyalty is Not for Barter’ Festival. The name of the Festival was taken from a quote in a letter that Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Ward William Blacker sent to the men of Seagoe Parish in the town on 4th September 1914. Edward Carson first used the quote during a speech in Belfast a few days before. The festival of events explored the transition of the 4thPortadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force into the 9thBattalion Royal Irish Fusiliers and their journey from enlisting at Carleton Street Orange Hall to fighting for King and Country.
Service of Remembrance
The Festival was officially launched on Monday 23rdSeptember with a Drumhead Service of Remembrance. A plaque was unveiled by Grand Master Edward Stevenson, in memory of the men of the 4thPortadown Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force who enlisted into the 9thBattalion Royal Irish Fusiliers in Carleton Street Orange Hall in September 1914.
Exhibitions on Display
Every room in Carleton Street Orange Hall was transformed into a different exhibition. Exhibitions included a Recruitment Office, Field Hospital, The story of Portadown men on the Western Front; which included personal stories and letters that had been sent home, Memorials to Sacrifice, The Blacker and Shillington families of Portadown, Women and the First World War; including Portadown Women’s Unionist Association and the members who went on to form the first Women’s Orange Lodges in the town between 1921 and 1923, The Home Rule Crisis, Unionist Clubs, Formation of the Ulster and Irish Volunteers and the story of the 36thUlster Division and the 16thIrish Division together at Messines in 1917 and also Portadown’s Memorial Arches.
Talks and Presentations
It was a busy week with living history displays and talks also taking place. Mrs Carol Walker from the Somme Association delivered an excellent presentation and talk on the suffragettes and the role of women in the First World War. Also, local Historian, Richard Edgar delivered an equally excellent presentation and talk on Portadown’s role in the First World War and explained personal stories and experiences about local men who went to fight for King and Country.
Bringing History to Life
In the early planning stages of the festival, Portadown Heritage Tours had looked at the events that happened in the hall after the volunteers had enlisted, but before they left to train and fight. These events included tea dances for the soldiers and their families. So, on Friday 27thSeptember, Portadown Heritage Tours hosted a Ladies Night with a Tea Party for the ladies of the local Women’s Orange Institution. A ladies night was chosen to pay tribute to the local women who contributed so much towards the Home Rule Crisis and the War Effort.
The festival was concluded on Saturday 28thSeptember with a family fun day, a more modern twist on the family events that where held in 1914.
The festival proved very popular with an excellent number of visitors recorded. Local Schools and Boys Brigade also enjoyed the festivities.
Portadown Heritage Tours would like to express their gratitude of thanks to everyone involved in the festival.
Star of David Accordion Band, Edgarstown Accordion Band, Pride of the Birches Accordion Band, Portadown Defenders Flute Band, Hilhaven Flute Band, Corcrain Flute Band, Colour Party Portadown Ex Servicemen’s LOL 608 and RBP 326, Royal Irish Fusiliers Association Portadown Branch, Piper David Hogg, Rev Maurice Laverty, Grand Master GOLI Edward Stevenson, Drew Rowan, Ashley Forbes WW1 Exhibits, The ladies of Carleton over 50’s, David Weir and Craigavon Museum Services, Carol Walker Somme Association, Northern Ireland Historical Airsoft Society, Richard Edgar, Carleton Street Community Development Association, Brilliant Trails, Museum of Orange Heritage Belfast, Lodges and Individuals who kindly loaned artefacts, the Ladies of the local Women’s Orange Institution, Castle Kings Bouncy Castle Hire, Friendly Faces, Portadown District LOL No.1 and all our volunteers for all the hard work putting the exhibition together.