Arson-hit Orange hall is reopened
An Orange hall in Co Donegal has reopened - two years after being destroyed in an arson attack.
Convoy Orange hall was targeted in October 2014. The deliberate blaze occurred only weeks after criminals destroyed nearby Newtowncunningham Orange hall.
Brethren from Thiepval Memorial LOL 1005 were joined at Saturday's formal reopening and dedication service by senior Orangemen, including the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson.
Also there were Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning and Grand Chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson, who officiated at the religious service.
The new building is both larger and better equipped than its predecessor, incorporating a meeting room, a room for band practice and extra storage. It also provides sporting amenities for young people and broadband facilities.
Convoy Worshipful Master Alan Laird expressed his delight at the completion of the two-year rebuild.
He said: "The upgraded hall has been built for the use of the local community with the long term in mind. We trust it will be utilised not only by the lodge and pipe band, but also the young people of the area."
Mr Laird also commended members of the Loyal Orders from across the British Isles who contributed to the hall appeal.
Mr Stevenson congratulated members of the Convoy lodge.
He said: "It is tremendous to see this community facility restored to its former glory. Its renewed and improved presence is testament to the Protestant and Orange fraternity in the Donegal area."
Convoy lodge was formed in 1919 as a memorial to local men who fell during the Great War.
The original hall was named the Thiepval Memorial Orange Hall in 1930. Many from the area served during the First World War. Some of their descendants are members of the lodge today.
Also in attendance at Saturday's event was Samuel Parker.
The Larne man's late father, Samuel Snr, led a team of voluntary workers who built the original hall. Mr Parker laid the corner stone of the new hall during the construction phase, which commenced earlier this year.