Co Donegal Orange hall has risen from the ashes following arson attack
An Orange hall in Co Donegal has re-opened its doors – two years after being destroyed in an arson attack.
Convoy Orange hall was targeted by arsonists in a malicious attack in October 2014.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was "horrified and disgusted" by the destruction.
The attack came just weeks after nearby Newtowncunningham Orange hall was destroyed in a similar incident.
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 in attendance were Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning and Grand Chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson, who officiated the religious service.
The new and improved Orange property 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, as well as broadband facilities.
Convoy Worshipful Master Alan Laird expressed his delight at the completion of the two-year rebuilding project.
He said: “The opening of our new hall is a tremendous accomplishment for all those associated with this substantial rebuild project. 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. We are confident the property will be a wonderful asset for east Donegal for generations to come.”
Mr Laird also commended members of the Loyal Orders from across the British Isles who contributed to the Convoy hall appeal, set up in the aftermath of the criminal act.
Mr Stevenson offered his congratulations to the members of the Convoy lodge at the official opening.
The Grand Master said: “It is tremendous to see this community facility rise again from the ashes and fully restored to its former glory. Its renewed and improved presence is testament to the fortitude and resilience of the Protestant and Orange fraternity in the Donegal area.
“The lodge has a proud military heritage, most notably during the Great War, and therefore it is particularly fitting that such a redevelopment occur in this, the centenary year of the Battle of the Somme.
“The new Convoy hall will stand as not only a tribute to those former members, but also in its everyday operation will provide a lasting legacy for future generations.”
Convoy lodge was formed in 1919 as a lasting 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 local area served King and country during the First World War in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Some of their descendants are members of the lodge today.
Also in attendance at Saturday’s event was Samuel Parker. The Larne man played a prominent role in the reopening as his late father, Samuel Snr, led a team of voluntary workers who built the original hall which lasted until the attack in 2014. Mr Parker laid the corner stone of the new hall during the construction phase, which commenced earlier this year.