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War and disease led to suspension of Twelfth in the past

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When Spanish flu claimed millions of lives across the world in 1918, members of one Orange lodge on Clifton Street in Belfast were given special permission to smoke their pipes at meetings in the mistaken belief it would ward off the influenza

When Spanish flu claimed millions of lives across the world in 1918, members of one Orange lodge on Clifton Street in Belfast were given special permission to smoke their pipes at meetings in the mistaken belief it would ward off the influenza

When Spanish flu claimed millions of lives across the world in 1918, members of one Orange lodge on Clifton Street in Belfast were given special permission to smoke their pipes at meetings in the mistaken belief it would ward off the influenza

Twelfth of July celebrations have only been cancelled a handful of times over the last two centuries.

Global health emergencies like the outbreak of cholera in the 1830s and Spanish flu in 1918, and both World Wars have forced Orange lodges to adapt.

In 1916 the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland had already cancelled parades before the Battle of the Somme started in July.

Numbers were greatly reduced at the time with many members serving in the Armed Forces and more engaged in war work at home.

Resembling the mood of today's public health announcements, a statement from the Orange Order in 1916 set out a stark reality.

"Already a large number of our finest brethren have laid down their lives for their country, and we cannot yet say how many more may never return," it said. Looking forward to less trying times, the Orange Order said it would look forward "with the greatest pleasure" to resuming the celebrations with a "new and greater importance".

When Spanish flu claimed millions of lives across the world in 1918, members of one Orange lodge on Clifton Street in Belfast were given special permission to smoke their pipes at meetings in the mistaken belief it would ward off the influenza.

Twelfth celebrations were suspended for the duration of World War Two.

Orange halls were turned over to shelter refugees from the Belfast Blitz while families still marked the Twelfth by flying flags and displaying orange lilies on their doorsteps.

Belfast Telegraph