The rise of the Women’s Orange Institution in Portadown: 1923

The rise of the Women’s Orange Institution in Portadown: 1923

In 1923 the Unionist Women of Portadown and District became the leading force for Women joining the Loyal Orange Order in increasingly large numbers.

The first Portadown Lodge of the Women’s Orange Institution, WLOL 62, was formed in Carleton Street Orange Hall in 1921. By 1923 the town had three flourishing Women’s Lodges.  In the same year Women’s Lodges were also opened at Tamnificarbet and Bannfoot.

A special meeting of the officers of Portadown Women’s LOL No. 62 was held in Carleton Street Orange Hall in May 1923.  The purpose of the meeting was to install the first officers of Portadown Women’s District LOL No.3.

The Formation of Portadown District Women’s LOL No.3

The chair was occupied by Sister Martin, Grand Secretary, who acted as installing officer. Sister Martin was assisted by Sister Beatty, Deputy Worshipful Mistress, Antrim.  Also present at the meeting was the Worshipful Mistress and Officers of Clounagh Women’s LOL.   Brother W.H Wright and Brothers Hamilition, Patton, Bell and Jenkinson represented the Men’s District.

After the Installation, Sister Martin addressed the officers, congratulating them and Portadown on ‘being raised to the position of a District, and stating that Newtownhamilition Women’s LOL would also be attached to their District’.

The First Worshipful Mistress of Portadown District

The chair was then taken by Sister McDonald, Deputy Grand Mistress of Ireland, who thanked those present for unanimously electing her to the position of the first Worshipful Mistress of Portadown District.  In her speech she urged all to “live up to the high religious ideals for which the association was instituted”.

Brother Wright congratulated the Sisters on the success of the order in Portadown.  He said:

“the Women’s Loyal Orange Lodge was a good united sisterhood banded together in a religious order for the uplifting of the people”.

 

Formation of WLOL 101

It was during this meeting that the officers of the newly formed Women’s Lodge No.101 of Edenderry were also installed by Sister Martin:

Worshipful Mistress: Sister Jessie Collen

Deputy Mistress: Sister Morgan

Chaplin: Sister Hoy

Secretary: Sister Sullivan

Treasurer: Sister Campbell

Committee: Sister Haack

                      Sister McCrory

                      Sister Smith

                      Sister Taylor

                      Sister Allen

 

Influence of Women’s Orange Lodges

Brother John Patton and R.H Bell spoke in appreciative terms regarding the influence of Women’s Orange Lodges, ‘congratulating Sister Collen on her appointment as Worshipful Mistress’ and the Lodge on having made such a “splendid choice”.

Both Brethren felt assured that “the Lodge would prove a credit to both Edenderry and Killycomaine”. 

All present were afterwards entertained to tea by sisters of the newly formed Lodges.

Over the period of the next few years a number of other Women’s Orange Lodges were formed within Portadown District Women’s LOL.

Significance of the Saunderson’s and the Orange Institution

Significance of the Saunderson’s and the Orange Institution

Helena de Moleyns was the daughter of Thomas Townsend Aremberg de Moleyns, 3rd Baron Ventry, and married Colonel Edward Saunderson on 22nd June 1865.  They had four sons and one daughter.

Helena Emily de Moleyns who was born in 1842, was a significant figure within the The Orange Women’s Association.

In 1887, following the first Home Rule Crisis, an association of Loyal Orangewomen was established in Ireland by the Hon Helena de Moleyns.

The association was formed when a number of women with strong unionist views formed themselves into a body to work together for the promotion of Protestantism and the defence of the Union.

The Association was authorised by the Grand Lodge of Ireland in December 1887 and it flourished for a short time but eventually ceased to function. The Orange Women’s Association was revived in 1911.

Helena Emily Saunderson (nee de Moleyns) died on 17th January 1926.

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Colonel Edward Saunderson : Prominent Irish Unionist Politician

Saunderson was born at Castle Saunderson in County Cavan and inherited his father’s Cavan estates following his death in 1857.  He led the Irish Unionist Party between 1891 and 1906.  Saunderson was first elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as the Palmerstonian Liberal member for Cavan in 1865.  In 1868, he became a Conservative.

Saunderson lost his seat to the Home Rule League Candidates at the 1874 general election.  In 1885 he stood again for the Parliament and was elected as a Conservative for the North Armagh Constituency.

By this time, he had become a prominent figure in the Orange Order and in the Unionist Political Movement.  In March 1893, Saunderson was one of the signatories of the manifesto of the Ulster Defence Union, launched to organise  resistance to the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893.  He also served as Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for Cavan, and was High Sheriff of Cavan in 1859. Saunderson entered the Cavan militia (4th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers) in 1862, and was made a major in 1875.  He became a Colonel in 1886 and was in command of the battalion from 1891 to 1893. Brother Saunderson served as the County Grand Master of Belfast from 1901 to 1903.

Saunderson became known for his speeches in the House of Commons.

“No man who comes to Belfast will laugh at the Ulster Loyalists. When all is said and done, whether or not the House of Lords rejects this Bill, I say in the name of my people I reject it. You may occupy the House of Commons for years to come with academic debates about the merits of this Home Rule Bill but I say in their name I reject it …. Home Rule may pass this House but it will never pass the bridge at Portadown”.

He died of pneumonia in 1906 and a statue, subscribed for by the public, was unveiled at Portadown in 1910