The following history is just an extract of one compiled by the late Bro. Samuel McLawrence P.M. J.P. for our centenary in 2004.
The first meeting of LOL 781 was held on 2nd July 1904 after the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland had issued warrant number 781 for the fee of £1.00. Brother John Tipping was elected as the first Worshipful Master. Sadly only a few months later on 30th May 1905 Brother Tipping sadly passed away and the duty of Worshipful Master was taken up by his own Brother Andrew Tipping who filled the role for some years later.
Left: Oldest known photograph of LOL 781 Circa 1910
During the early years the Lodge met in the Orange Hall in Manor Street, Donaghadee but on the 13th July 1912 the foundation stone was laid by the Right Honourable R.J. Kennedy CMG for their own Orange Hall on the corner of Moat Street and Union Street. There was also a time capsule placed under the foundation stone which contained documents and newspaper articles relating to the Hall. The Orange Hall was formally opened in November of the same year by Bro. Col. Wallace C.B. Grand Master of Belfast County with Bro. Rev. Canon Pooler leading the devotional scripture and prayers. The cost of building the Orange Hall was £1000.
In 1914 World War 1 broke out and 48 members of LOL 781 answered the call to serve King and Country, sadly the following 9 members were to lose their lives during the conflict.
- Bro. William Melville
- Bro. Thomas Bailie
- Bro. William Semple
- Bro. Joseph McConnell
- Bro. Robert Stewart
- Bro. James Campbell
- Bro. James Robinson
- Bro. Samuel Gatensby
- Bro. Samuel Keith
A memorial was erected in the hall in memory of the fallen Brethren and the Lodge lay a wreath of poppies in remembrance of them every July.
During World War 2 Bro Abel Angus, Bro. Carson Boyd, Bro. James Burns and Bro. William Woods all served in His Majesties Forces thankfully they all returned safely after the war.
Over the years the Lodge have purchased six banners the first of which was made by Bridgetts in Belfast and cost just £14.00. The banner depicted Queen Victoria on one side and King William III on the other. The second was purchased during the 1920's and depicted King William III on one side and the Protestant Martyrs Ridley and Latimer on the other. The banners purchased in 1956 and 1974 also portrayed the same scenes. The banner purchased in 2000 at a cost of £1600 broke with this tradition and featured as always King William III on one side and the local landmark known as the Moat on the other and also the tower of the local Parish Church. This banner was originally designed by the late Bro. Alexander Ferris and was produced by John Smith of Belfast.
On 29th September 2006 the Orange Hall was destroyed by a malicious fire and nearly all the banners, artifacts, regalia, standards and a lot of other historical mementos were lost along with everything else the Lodge owned. Luckily the second banner the Lodge had purchased was saved from the fire although it was badly scorched and water damaged. Two other things to survive the blaze were the War Memorial erected to remember those killed during World War 1 which had fell from the wall and amazingly covered the Lodge Warrant which also emerged from the ashes.
The Lodge were distraught at the loss of the Orange Hall but were determined to rebuild to ensure an Orange presence was maintained on Moat Street and plans were drawn up for a new Orange & Protestant Hall. The hall was officially opened in October 2008 and a new banner was also unfurled that day featuring once again the martyr's Ridley and Latimer on one side and King William III on the other with a small inset panel showing the original Orange Hall before and after the fire. The banner was painted by the prize winning banner painter William Magowan and cost in the region of £2,000 with the cost of the new Orange Hall in the region of £180,000. The lodge appreciate all those people from far and wide who helped their efforts to rebuild by donations, organising fund raising events and also donating old photos and artefacts connected to the Lodge most of which are on display in the new hall.
Boyne Anniversary Celebrations 2012
In 2012 LOL 781 had the honour of hosting and leading the North Down Annual Boyne Anniversary Celebrations in Donaghadee.
The parade itself was organised by Blue Banner
Total Abstinence LOL 781 with considerable help from the other Donaghadee
Lodges LOL 241 and LOL 836 and the associated 2012th Festival was
organised by Donaghadee Community Partnership who also worked closely with the
local Orange Lodges. The organisers also had the full support of Upper Ards
District LOL 11 on whose behalf they were organising the events.
The feedback received
both verbally, through social networking sites, websites and through the use of
questionnaires from people who attended was all very positive with people
commenting on how much they enjoyed the family atmosphere, the venue, how well
organised the events were, the excellent performers who were part of the festival
and of course the colour, splendour and spectacle of the 12th July
parade itself. It also highlighted the number of visitors the event attracted from
outside the area who visited during the period with visitors from all over Northern Ireland and the UK as well as visitors from Canada, Australia,
Holland and the Republic of Ireland.
All these visitors went away with a very positive impression of Donaghadee and
this was due in part to the whole town embracing the events, local residents and
business’s got behind the celebrations and this helped create the welcoming
atmosphere which visitors commented on, this support was much appreciated by
the organisers and helped create one of the areas most successful 12th July Celebrations of recent years. It was estimated by local police that there were around 30,000 people in Donaghadee that day including participants and spectators.
There were also a few firsts for the annual 12th July celebrations in Donaghadee in 2012. There was a special flag designed, commissioned and produced to celebrate the towns hosting of the event and these proved very much in demand by local residents and also visitors from abroad as mementos of the occasion. The flags featured a special Donaghadee 12th logo which was used as part of the marketing campaign for the 12th July which is another first, this logo was used in publicity material as well as in a booklet, again specially published by the organisers, which contained not only information about the parade and associated festival and local Lodges but also contributions from local residents, historians and well respected traditional musicians, 500 booklets were published and given out at no cost to local business’s and other outlets to distribute to the general public. Another first was the dedicated website set up purely for Donaghadee’s hosting of the event, this again featured all the information available on the parade, routes times etc. as well as articles on the performers at the Donaghadee 2012th Festival.
There was also a legacy
to come out of Donaghadee’s hosting of the Celebrations; a new juvenile lodge
was formed in April 2012 to help encourage the young boys of Donaghadee to play
their part in their town’s hosting of the event. Blue Banner Junior LOL 781 was
formed in April that year and membership steadily grew and seventeen
members paraded through their home town for their first 12th. Blue Banner Junior LOL 781 have continued and gone on to recruit many new members since 2012.There
was also a Lambeg drumming class formed in the run up to July and although they played
no part in the parade they were able to show a few of their recently learned
skills during the Festival, Donaghadee Fife and Drumming Club grew out of the classes and continue to promote traditional drumming and fifing through various engagements. The Rising Sons of Down Flute Band,
Donaghadee who reformed to help the host Lodge were also a very welcome sight
for the people of Donaghadee and although it was supposedly for one day only they also have carried on and are going from strength to strength.