Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United legend George Best's link with the Orange Order - collarette to go on show at new museum

By Nevin Farrell

He mesmerised millions every football season, but the young George Best once enjoyed the marching season too.

And the star who become famous wearing the red jersey of Manchester United once wore a black collarette as a member of the Junior Royal Black Institution.

The footballer's collarette is a key exhibit at a new Orange Order museum which opens to the public in Belfast on Wednesday.

And perhaps fittingly there is a touch of red on the historic collarette.

The collarette was kindly donated by the Best family and is sure to be of great interest to museum visitors.

As a young boy George carried the strings of the banner for the local Orange lodge in the Cregagh area, while his father Dickie was worshipful master.

George was also a member of the Loyal Orders and in one of his autobiographies, Best, he recalled how important the Twelfth was to his family.

Marking the start of an unprecedented outreach project for the largest loyal order, the Museum of Orange Heritage will welcome its first visitors this morning for a preview.

Extensive redevelopment work has been ongoing at the Institution's Cregagh Road headquarters since early last year and its completion represents the largest and most ambitious venture ever undertaken by the Order.

The impressive Belfast facility aims to promote shared space and greater levels of reconciliation through education, and is a joint project with the refurbished Sloan's House in Loughgall, Co Armagh, which opens separately next week.

Visitors to the state-of-the-art building will be able to view a wealth of items and artefacts in the possession of the Institution, and avail of interactive and audio visual technologies to learn more about the history of Orangeism, and its worldwide appeal, from the Glorious Revolution to the present day.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said the new interpretative centre at Schomberg House symbolised an "exciting new dawn for Orangeism".

The Orange chief said it "is a truly iconic, historic and landmark moment for the Orange Institution, representing a shift change in our outreach to the wider community".

Mr Stevenson added: "The Orange tradition has a story to tell and it is fantastic to be able to share and showcase our heritage to a large audience, through the means of a modern interpretative centre.

"Such a facility has never before been available anywhere in the British Isles, and we are immensely proud of our product."

He added: "We believe our museum will be a truly outstanding educational and historical resource, and look forward to welcoming visitors from all walks of life and from across the world, such has been the sense of anticipation ahead of the completion of this project."

  • The Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast will be open to the public from 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday. It will also open until 8pm on Thursdays. Admission for adults is £4.50, children £2, and under-10s go free.

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