Belfast Telegraph

Bellarena keeping it in the family as lodge toasts its 70th birthday

By Donna Deeney

An Orange lodge with one of the institution's youngest officials is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The current Deputy Master of Bellarena Faith Defenders, Aaron Callan, is taking a particular interest in the Co Londonderry lodge's celebrations because his own family have been steeped in its history from its formation in 1947.

He is following in the footsteps of his grandfather Ernie Clyde and his great-grandfather Power Edward Clyde, who were both Worshipful Masters of the lodge.

Mr Callan said the rich history of the lodge that he grew up hearing about inspired his own interest and at the age of 22 he became one of the youngest to become a deputy master.

He said his great grandfather joined the lodge soon after its formation.

"Bellarena as many people know is a mostly nationalist area and in 1947 it was no different," Mr Callan said.

"In the year that the lodge was formed the members were on a parade with the band and faced a protest of around 200 people.

"There was a bit of a ruckus but no one was hurt. However, my grandfather who was a boy of 10 at the time was playing the triangle in the band and the memory stayed with him.

"The original band was a flute band and I still have my great-grandfather's flute which is something I treasure."

Once established the lodge and band took part in many parades both to mark the Twelfth of July and the annual Relief of Derry parade held in August.

It was during one of the parades on the Derry Walls that Mr Callan's grandfather had to make a swift departure from to return to his day job.

Mr Callan explained: "My grandfather who was also in the fire service was on the Walls on parade when the Battle of the Bogside broke out. As soon as he could, he had to leave the parade, go to the fire station where he donned his uniform and went back into the city to help fight all the fires.

"Over the 70 years since our rural lodge, which boasts a healthy membership of 40, has had a rich history and on this significant year for us I am proud that I am following on the footsteps of my grandfather and my great grandfather before that and I look forward to the celebrations that lie ahead."

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