Newtownards District LOL no. 4

The governing body of 12 Orange lodges in Newtownards, County Down

King George VI Memorial LOL 1973

LOL 1973 were formed in the town land of Craigantlet in 1952, as an offshoot from another nearby Lodge in Ballykeel. Until 2017 it was the youngest lodge in Newtownards District and the only one to meet outside of the town itself.

the lodge on 12th July 2002

Craigantlet Orange Hall is situated in a central location between Holywood, Bangor, Dundonald and Newtownards, high up in the Holywood hills in a beautiful part of County Down. The ground that the hall was built on was kindly donated by the Boyd family and the Orange Hall was opened in 1960. Today the hall is not only used by the lodge but also lends itself to the local community in many ways, and is currently the base for the local Crossroads Church.

Craigantlet Orange Hall, which was opened in 1960

The lodge membership traditionally came from the local farming area, though today members come mainly from the surrounding towns. However the local community still plays a vital part in supporting the lodge in the many fundraising events held throughout the year which are so important for the upkeep of the hall.

the royal blue Craigantlet collarette

The collarettes worn by the lodge are distinct in colour from the vast majority of other lodges in that they are royal blue. The present members are unsure of why this is, although a popular tale is that when permission was sought to name the lodge in memory of King George VI, his wife, the Queen Mother requested that the collarettes the lodge wore were coloured blue.

The lodge has had a number of banners since its formation with the most recent one unfurled in 1988 and this honour was performed by Mrs Annie Craig, wife of a highly respected founder member, Bro. William Craig. The banner features a portrait of the late King George VI and a biblical message on the reverse.

In 2017 the lodge dedicated a new bannerette, a smaller version of the traditional banner which the lodge will now carry on parade. This unveiling carried out by long time friends of the lodge Ellie and Jean Henderson. The bannerette features a portrait of King George while the reverse image displays the nearby Helen’s Tower with commemorative poppies.

the unfurling of the last big banner in 1988

On Father’s Day in June of each year, the lodge hosts a traditional Sunday parade and church service. As has been done for many years, a parade forms up at the ‘Craigantlet Cottages’ and makes its way to the Orange Hall where we hold a religious service. This service is usually well supported by both the community and brethren from the other Newtownards Lodges.

In recent years the lodge has begun a new tradition of hosting an Eleventh Night barn dance, barbecue and bonfire, opening up the hall to the community again and providing a safe backdrop to the pre-twelfth event.


New Year honour for Terence McKeag

Congratulations to Bro. Terence McKeag who has been awarded the British Empire Medal in New Year’s Honours list.

Terence has received the award for services to Agriculture and to Equestrian Sport in Northern Ireland.

Throughout his life, Terence played a significant role in events at the Balmoral Show, had involvement in local point-to-point races and was known to many on the entertainment circuit as a singer and comedian.

Bro. McKeag is a member of King George VI Memorial LOL 1973.


1973 visit birthplace of Orangeism

On 18th June 2016, LOL 1973 organised their annual outing, which this year saw members and friends visit the new Museum of Orange Heritage in Loughgall as well as the nearby Dan Winter’s Cottage, both sites closely linked with the creation of the Orange Institution.

An enjoyable and informative day was had by all, which culminated with a meal at La Mon Hotel.


Informative talks at Craigantlet

As part of the 2014 Newtownards Twelfth Festival, three very informative lectures were delivered at Craigantlet Orange Hall. Bro Jack Greenald spoke to the audience on the exodus of Orangemen to the Battle of the Somme in 1919 and the sacrifices made by many.

some of the gathered audience with Peter Forbes (far left)

Good Relations Officer Jim Murdock spoke on his role with Ards Borough Council and the community groups and projects that it brings him into contact with, including our own Twelfth festival this year.

Local school teacher Peter Forbes concluded the evening with tales of Blair Paddy Mayne and the SAS campaign during WWII, displaying a number of artefacts, including his copy of the SAS War Diary.


Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

2012 marked the 60th year in existence of King George VI Memorial LOL 1973 and in early November members gathered with visiting brethren and friends to mark the anniversary.

At an evening of celebration in Craigantlet Orange Hall, those present heard from the Orange Institution historian Bro. David Cargo about the early days of Orangeism in Craigantlet and how the founder members of ‘the lodge on the hill’ set a firm basis for a lodge to still be in existence today.


The opening of Craigantlet Orange Hall

LOL 1973 has recently been given two fantastic photographs relating to the opening of the Orange Hall at Craigantlet. The first is a copy of a newspaper report on the official opening, which took place on Saturday 4th June 1960. The opening ceremony was preceded by a parade in the area that featured bands and lambeg drums.

The opening of the hall was carried out by Mrs W.M. May, wife of the then Minister of Education in the presence of her husband and District Officers from Newtownards.

The second photo shows lodge members and volunteers involved in the construction of the hall posing during a break in their shift. The land that the hall is built on was kindly donated to the lodge by the Boyd family, who owned the neighbouring quarry and the hall was constructed for the sum of £6000.

The picture dates from around 1959 and those featured are as follows: back row – Bobby Gray, Neville Henderson, Johnny Herriot, Eric Henderson, George Henderson, Billy Craig, Eddie Gray, unknown, Tommy Brown. Front row – unknown, Geordie Nicholl, Alec McEneny, Billy Andrews, Willie Hansell, (boy) Tom Brown’s son.

a works party involved in the building of the Orange Hall

Grand Secretary visits Craigantlet

WM David Mateer presents a gift to the Grand Secretary Bro Drew Nelson (right)

LOL 1973 were honoured to have Bro. Drew Nelson, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge as guest speaker at the 2010 Installation of Officers meeting.

Bro. Nelson spoke with the assembled audience of Orangemen and friends on the importance of protecting our Protestant identity.

The installation meeting was carried off in its usual format, with supper and toasts, prior to the main speech from the Grand Secretary. LOL 1973’s Worshipful Master David Mateer thanked Bro Nelson for his attendance and sent him home with a small gift from the members of the Lodge.


Celebration of two Past Masters

At LOL 1973’s March 2008 meeting, District Master Colin Campbell was in attendance to present certificates to two Past Masters. Bro Ken Black held the office of Worshipful Master for the past two years, leaving office in January.

Bro Mervyn McGimpsey has been a member of the lodge for only two years, having transferred over when his previous lodge, LOL 991 folded. Bro McGimpsey spent ten years as WM of his last Lodge and was honoured to receive a Past Master’s certificate and jewel from the members of his new Lodge.

Bro Mervyn McGimpsey (left) and Bro Ken Black receive past master’s certificates from District Master Bro Colin Campbell

The ‘Eleventh Night’ at Craigantlet, 2007

Craigantlet Orange Hall hosted the annual 11th night bonfire and barbecue again this year and welcomed over one hundred people through its doors. The community event attracted folks from the local cottages and supporters from Newtownards and Holywood keen to enjoy the traditional festivities in a safe and friendly environment.

The young enjoyed the bouncy castle, while a barn dance had the floor filled for most of the evening. The hard-working chefs were kept busy all night tending the barbecue, while lambeg drumming accompanied the lighting of the bonfire later in the evening. All agreed that another successful night was had and that the event was gaining in momentum each year.


Boyne Battle site trip

Early on a Saturday morning in June 2007 a party of thirty, comprising members of LOL 1973 along with friends and members from the local Craigantlet community set off for the famous Battle of the Boyne site, near Drogheda.

The journey across the border marked the Lodge’s first cultural trip, to what is a fast-growing tourist attraction in the Republic. Following a morning stop in Dundalk and lunch in Drogheda, the afternoon rain welcomed the party to the Boyne site at Oldbridge Estate. Joining other visitors, including some from North America, the lodge enjoyed a thorough and well-researched description of the battle from one of the local tour guides.


50th Anniversary Dinner

Lodge members, supporters, friends and invited guests gathered on Wednesday 4th December 2002 at Romas Restaurant in Newtownards to celebrate the lodge’s 50th year at our Golden Jubilee dinner.

Sixty members and friends enjoyed an excellent meal and the hospitality of Romas and heard many tributes paid to the Lodge by the Worshipful District Master Bro Billy McIlroy, Deputy County Master Bro Victor Harrison and Imperial Grand Secretary Bro John McCrea. Guest speaker Bro David Cargo took the audience on a short historical journey through the first 50 years of LOL 1973.

The WM Bro Andrew McCullough helps Mrs Annie Craig and Bro Jack Thompson to cut the anniversary cake

Why not join us?

Newtownards District consists of twelve lodges making up a membership of over 300. Each lodge holds a monthly meeting, where issues affecting the lodge are discussed. Though much of the business is of a formal nature, there is much social gathering between the members as well, at parades and other events which are organised throughout the year. If you would like to talk to someone about joining, contact us

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