Described as “a ground-breaking collection of interviews” with members of Orange Lodges and Bands in the border counties of Ireland has been brought together in a new book called ‘The Forgotten People of Ulster: Stories of Orangeism South of the Border’, will be launched on Wednesday week, February 19th.
The book, to be launched at 8pm in Convoy Orange Hall, has been published jointly by Cadolemo, a network representing the lodges and bands in the Republic of Ireland, and Towards Understanding & Healing, based in Derry, with funding from SEUPB Peace 3.
The story gathering project was an initiative of Cadolemo. The interviews were carried out in 2011 and 2012 by Susie Minto, a writer and storyteller and also the editor of this new publication.
In her introduction, Susie states: “If stories are not told, there is a gap in history, creating an imbalance. The particular hole existing in Irish history, through the lack of stories from the border-living people of Orangeism, has been a significant one. Now, at last, these stories are courageously being placed into the public domain by individuals whose lives and experiences span generations from Partition to Peace.”
Since the brokering of peace, many cross-community and cross-border projects have been taking place but the Orange Community living in the Republic of Ireland have largely remained silent, their stories not told or heard. They have remained hidden from view, well below the proverbial “parapet”.
In 1912, most Protestants in Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan signed the Ulster Covenant resisting Home Rule. The decision to partition Ulster to form Northern Ireland caused great bitterness and distress among those in the three counties, caught on the ‘wrong side’ of the Border. They felt betrayed. They went to bed one night as British citizens and woke up as citizens of the Irish Free State.
The sense of becoming the ‘forgotten people of Ulster’ was strong amongst the Protestants who felt they had become reluctant residents in a new land. Many moved over the Border to remain within British jurisdiction. Those who stayed, and the generations who have come after them, have lived through what was at first a struggle, then a sense of make-do and finally, for most, transforming to genuine ownership of their identity as Irish citizens who happen to be Protestant.
The value of these stories being told will impact not only the individuals, the organisation and the Protestant community but also create opportunities for conversations and engagement within the wider community.
Eamonn Baker of Towards Understanding and Healing said: ‘We are an organisation that recognises and validates individual experience in the context of the much wider story of the conflict in Northern Ireland and across these islands, and we have been delighted to work in partnership with CADOLEMO to support their new publication, telling, intimately, stories of the Orange community in the counties on the edge of the Border – Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal.’
Both CADOLEMO and Towards Understanding & Healing gratefully acknowledge the financial support of SEUPB Peace 3 for both process and publication.