Orange Order

   The Orange Order, a fiercely partisan Protestant fraternity based in Ireland, is dedicated to the memory of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne. in 1688, William ii (of Orange) had driven James ii from the British throne. Two years later, the staunchly catholic James gathered an army of French and irish in a bid to reclaim his crown. He was defeated on July 12 at the Battle of the Boyne (not far from Dublin). Irish Protestants from Derry joined in the effort.
   In 1795, Protestant-Catholic conflict in County Armagh led to the formation of a Protestant fraternal lodge at Loughgall that drew on William of Orange for its symbolism. On July 12 of the following year, the first march by the new fraternity of Orangemen was held in Belfast. Lodges soon appeared in other communities across Ireland beset by Catholic-Protestant tensions. They drew most of their support from Presbyterians, and very little from Anglicans. Lodge activities over the next generation became the focus of a series of violent clashes between Catholics and Protestants, and in 1836 the British banned the Orange lodges.
   Protestants, many of Scottish origin, reemerged as an organized force in the 1850s in defiance of British authorities. Over the next century, they opposed any attempts to return Ireland to Irish (and hence Roman Catholic) control. In 1912, northern Orangemen formed the Ulster Volunteer Force to fight against home rule. Nevertheless, the British in 1920 granted self-rule to the 26 counties that had a Catholic majority. Two years later, the Catholic counties declared their freedom as the Irish Free State, while the remaining six counties were reorganized as Northern Ireland and remained incorporated in the United Kingdom.
   With the rise of an independent Irish state, the focus of the Orange Order, officially the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland, was to prevent Ireland from absorbing the northern provinces. Catholic protests against discrimination in Northern Ireland in the 1960s provoked Protestant support for Ian Paisley (b. 1926), an Orangeman and founder of the ultraconservative Free Presbyterian Church (1951). Paisley believed that both political and ecclesiastical leaders were endangering the structures that kept Protestants in control.
   The next 30 years were punctuated with clashes between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Orangemen became known for their public demonstrations, often purposefully carried into Catholic neighborhoods. Catholics formed their own paramilitary groups to oppose the Ulster Volunteer Force and similar Protestant groups. British forces and local governments attempted to quell the violence. Significant progress was made in 1999 when the Good Friday Agreement led to the establishment of a new government for Northern Ireland, initially opposed by Paisley and the Orange Order.
   The Orange Order spread internationally to Canada (1818), Australia (1845) and England. It now exists as two organizations, the larger Orange Order and the smaller Independent Loyal Orange Institution, with which Paisely is associated.
   Further reading:
   ■ J. Brown, M. W. Deware, and S. E. Long, Orangeism: A New Historical Appreciation (Belfast: Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, 1967)
   ■ Tony Gray, The Orange Order (London: The Bodley Head, 1972)
   ■ C. C. O'Brien, Ancestral Voices: Religion and Nationalism in Ireland (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995)
   ■ Hereward Senior, Orangeism in Ireland and Britain, 1795-1836 (London: Routledge & Kegan, 1966).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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