Orangemen Return to Carleton Street Orange Hall 1944

Orangemen Return to Carleton Street Orange Hall 1944

Before Victory in Europe in 1945, the Orangemen and Orangewomen of Portadown could return to Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The Hall had been under military control to both the British and American Troops at different periods of time during the 2nd World War.

To mark the occasion a function was held in the Town Hall in 1944.

“The large and enthusiastic representative audience spoke volumes for the virility of the Order in the Portadown District and augurs well for its future progress here”.

 

The assembly room in the Town Hall was ‘attractively decorated’ with bunting, greenery and flowers.  This added a ‘welcome touch of warmth’.

“Everyone was in good spirits and keen to resume the good work of the order”.

Dr Dougan and the Orange Influence

In his opening address, District Master Dr George Dougan said that ‘they had a great deal for which to be thankful for.  They were grateful to get back again and it would make a great difference to the Order in the District’.

In his speech conclusion, Dr Dougan conveyed to the meeting a message of good wishes from sister Louisa Shillington, widow of the former District Master, Major David Graham Shillington.

Service

Parkmount Flute Band led the music entertainment, their conductor was Brother Albert Wilson.  Songs were performed by Brother Harold McAfee, Brother Leslie Hurst and Brother Jack Menaul.

Secretary of the Orange Hall Committee, Brother Herbert Whitten, who had been at the forefront of all negotiations with the British and American Military authorities regarding the Hall, gave an interesting survey of matters concerning the hall since its requisition by the military.

A number of speeches followed.

The Ladies

There was a short interval in the service and tea was served.  This was provided by two of the Women’s Orange Lodges, WLOL 62 and WLOL85. The District Mistress, Sister Dougan, organised the refreshments ‘with an efficiency that earned the praise of all present’.

With the interval over, Parkmount Flute Band once again took to the stage to provide musical entertainment.

Presentation

One surprise item came at the end of the evening.  Mr Callender Bullock made a presentation (on behalf of his wife) from the members of Portadown Women’s Unionist Association, to Dr George Dougan.  It was a ‘beautiful paper knife’.

The evening Concluded with the National Anthem.

 

 

Portadown Soldier’s Ordeal: Home for VE Celebrations after 5 years as a Prisoner of War

Portadown Soldier’s Ordeal: Home for VE Celebrations after 5 years as a Prisoner of War

After having spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in the hands of the Germans, Fusilier James Hughes of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers returned home in time to experience the VE Celebrations.

Fusilier Hughes returned to his home at 13 Fowlers Entry, Portadown. He was met at Watson Street Railway Station by Mr R J Magowan, Chairman of the Urban District Council, Mr Geo McGowan, Town Clerk, and Mr R Heathwood, B.E.M.

Fusilier Hughes’ widowed Mother, Mary, and other members of his family were of course overjoyed to see him.  Some of the younger members of the family had never met him.  Some of his younger siblings had only a handful of memories of him before the war and didn’t know what he looked like.

He was described as

“looking little the worse of his long period in German war prisoner compounds”.

First Visit

One of the first visits for Fusilier Hughes on his return was to the News Office.  There he requested a public thank you to be published to the local citizens for their support of the Red Cross Prisoners of War Fund.

“these parcels reached us regularly, though the Germans had been ghoulish enough to open them and merely hand over about half of what was intended for the men to whom they were dispatched”.

Fusilier Hughes

He also acknowledged parcels sent by Mr George Hughes, 13 South Street.  Although he never personally received the packages.

The Parcels

One of the main contributors to the parcels for local men being held in German prisoner of war camps , was Portadown Women’s Orange District.  They worked alongside Portadown Women’s Unionist Association.

Sister Louisa Shillington, was one of the main organisers and a driving force behind donations for the appeal.  It was something close to her heart as she had lost her son, Tom Shillington, and nephew, Geoffrey Shillington Cather, in the First World War.  Her Husband, David Graham Shillington had sadly died in 1944 and never saw the war come to an end.

Louisa Shillington (Nee Collen)
Image courtesy of Shillington Family records

David Graham Shillington was MP for the area and was District Master of Portadown Orange District LOL No 1 right up until his death.  He had been a company commander in the local Ulster Volunteer Force during the Home Rule Crisis and went on to become a Major in the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers during the First World War. He had also took over the family firm T A Shillington & Son (now Haldane and Fisher) after his father died suddenly when he was 16.

Enlistment

Fusilier Hughes, who in civilian life, had been employed by Mr Edward Cassells of Woodhouse Street, enlisted in 1936.

He was taken prisoner at Ypres, Belgium on 27th May 1940.  Some of the places he had been to in the course of his travels across Germany, some of them in forced marches, included Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, Marienwerder and Danzig.

Dunkirk

Fusilier Hughes had been in Berlin when the Dunkirk Evacuation took place.  During his incarceration he had acquired a good understanding of the German language.

While a prisoner he was allowed one letter home per week, but since the Normandy Invasion correspondence ceased and at all times contact with German civilians was strictly  forbidden.

The bombing by the RAF and USAAF gave the Allied war prisoners cause for anxiety, as at times their camp had narrow escapes.

Experiences

Fusilier Hughes described the Germans as harsh. On one occasion he escaped from the camp and enjoyed four days of freedom.  He was caught by the Gestapo, taken to their headquarters and severely beaten.

He described the occasions of forced marches as gruelling.   The Supreme headquarters of the Allied Nations had dropped leaflets into Germany demanding more consideration to the welfare of their prisoners, but no improvement in camp conditions was noticed.

Liberation

Liberation came when the 8th American Army reached Hamburg.  The Russian Forces converged at the same time.  Another local man they set free was George McCarragher from Obins Street, Portadown.

Fusilier Hughes arrived by Lancaster at Croydon. There, liberated prisoners of war were met with crowds and fellow servicemen and women to welcome them back. James then continued to Stranraer and arrived back in Northern Ireland via Larne.

Home Thoughts

One thing that surprised Fusilier Hughes on his arrival home was the small extent of the damage by air raids.  In Germany, all the big cities he had passed through were completely flattened.

Fusilier Hughes was given 6 weeks leave with double rations which were to help towards his complete recovery from undernourishment.  He was to rejoin his unit on 28th June 1945.

His Father, the late Mr James Hughes Senior, had served in the 1st World War with The Royal Engineers and The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

The Collen Women and their strong influence on Orangeism

The Collen Women and their strong influence on Orangeism

The Collen family have their roots firmly in the building, construction and development of Portadown.

The Collen family have been involved in the building trade since 1810.  Collen Brothers opened their doors for business in 1867 in Carleton Street, Portadown. John Collen took the lead in establishing the new family company along with his brothers Richard, Joseph and David.  Collen brothers managed to secure a wide variety of contracts not only in Portadown but also throughout Ulster.

The Collen Brothers built Carleton Street Orange Hall.  The outside facade of the hall holds a strong resemblance to the Blacker family residence that was Carrickblacker House.  The firm became the main contractor for public works in the town.  The company expanded well beyond its native region, extending its reach to Dublin in the early 1870’s.

 

Carrickblacker House

Carleton Street Orange Hall

 

Strong Unionist Links

John Collen acquired a local residence at Killycomain House which became the family home. He was an important figure in the town and a prominent Methodist. He was appointed Justice of the Peace for Portadown and emerged as a leading member of the local Unionist Party. He was a member of the General Committee of the North Armagh Unionist Association during the first decade of the twentieth century.

He was selected to represent Portadown Urban District Council as a member of Armagh County Council.  He remained a member of the Council for over two decades until his retirement due to ill health in 1920.  John Collen was also appointed as Deputy Lieutenant for the County in December 1906, retaining the post until his death in 1921.  He also served as high sheriff of Armagh in 1911, attending the coronation of King George V.

The Collen woman and Orangeism in Portadown

Perhaps it was the influence of their father’s strong unionist views, but it was two of John Collen’s Daughters that paved the way for the Women’s Loyal Orange Institution in Portadown.  Louisa and Jessie Collen were prominent Orangewomen of Portadown.  The Association of Loyal Orange Women of Ireland, Armagh No.3 District, Portadown was formed on 21st May 1923.  There were three District Lodges functioning at this time.

The Officers were:

  • District Mistress Sister Mrs. McDonald
  • Deputy District Mistress Sister Jessie Collen
  • District Chaplain Sister Miss McDonald
  • District Secretary Sister Mrs J Logan
  • District Treasurer Sister Miss Dougan

Louisa Shillington (nee Collen)

Louisa Collen married David Graham Shillington in 1895.  The Shillington family were also very important in the development of Portadown.  David Graham Shillington was a proud Unionist, Methodist and Military man.  He served as District Master of Portadown LOL No.1 from 1926 until 1944.

Louisa was influential in the development of Women’s Orangeism and Unionism in Portadown.  Sister Shillington held office in WLOL 62, a lodge based in Carleton Street Orange Hall and still going strong to this day.  The Lodge was the first to be formed in Portadown on 21st May 1921.  Louisa was also President of the Women’s Unionist Association Portadown Branch.

Louisa Shillington (Nee Collen)
Image courtesy of Shillington Family records

Jessie Collen

Jessie Collen was the youngest daughter of John and Mary Collen.  Sister Collen was the first Worshipful Mistress of WLOL 101, based at Edenderry Orange Hall in the town.  According to newspaper records it was her Sister Louisa Shillington that officially opened Edenderry Orange Hall.  The Lodge was formed on 8th May 1923.  Sister Collen was also the first Deputy District Mistress of Armagh No.3 District, Portadown.

Records show that Jessie was influential in representing Women’s Orangeism at many different parades and events.  One notable event that Sister Collen attended was the visit of their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of York to Northern Ireland in 1924 along with Sisters Mrs McDonald and Miss Shaw.  There is no mention of representation from the men of Portadown District LOL No.1.  But both organisations of the Orange Institution of Portadown worked very closely together, so it is thought that the Sisters in attendance were a representation of the Portadown Orange Institution as a whole.

Working Together

Through obvious family links a strong working relationship was developed between both the men’s orange institution and the women’s orange institution in Portadown. The District Officers of the Women’s Association would have paraded at the front along with the District Officers of Portadown District LOL No.1.  According to Newspaper records they shared out attendances at events and often would have had joint church services and parades.  The effects of this strong relationship built in the 1920’s is still present today.

A lasting Memorial to Jessie Collen

Jessie Collen died on New Year’s Eve in 1931.  She had been living at 5 Deramore Park , Belfast located in the Malone area in the South of the city.  But she passed away at the residence of her eldest brother, Thomas John Collen esquire, at 20 Bethia Road Bournemouth, England.  It is thought that she was only in her late fifties when she died.

In 1937, six years after Sister Collen’s death, Edenderry Women’s LOL 101 was officially renamed ‘The Jessie Collen Memorial Women’s LOL 101’ as a lasting tribute to the memory of its first Worshipful Mistress.  Under the auspices of the lodge, a small function took place in Edenderry Orange Hall on 14th April 1937 to mark the occasion.  There were a number of visitor’s present including D.M. Bro Major David Graham Shillington, Sister Louisa Shillington (nee Collen) D.M of WLOL 62 and Br R.J Magowan W.M of Edenderry Temperance and Benefit LOL No.322.

Jessie Collen is buried in the Collen family plot at Seagoe Cemetery.

Jessie Collen Memorial WLOL 101

 

Sources:

Collen 200 years of Building and Civil Engineering in Ireland, John Walsh

Portadown Times articles 1923-1937

Portadown District LOL No.1 2005 County Demonstration booklet

NAI, Census of Ireland 1901 and 1911, Household return for John Collen