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Sloan's House

The famous Battle of the Diamond, which led to the formation of the Orange Order, took place near Dan Winters’s cottage.

As the smoke was still swirling around the Diamond and Dan Winters turned his attention to the wreckage on his property, several others of those caught up in the conflict made the short journey to Sloan’s Inn on the main street in the nearby village of Loughall. The men had one idea on their minds. To form a new organisation to defend Protestants in response to the growing sectarian tensions threatening to engulf Armagh and Tyrone.

Let us join them. Here at Sloan’s House in the heart of unspoilt Loughall, in what was Sloan’s Inn, we can stand in the very parlour where history was made. Before us around the original table sit the figures of the innkeeper himself, James Sloan, James Wilson from the Dyan in Tyrone and Captain John Gifford of the Royal Dublin Militia, currently stationed at Portadown.

James Sloan has brought them to this place to finish the business began in Dan Winters’ cottage. He will become the first secretary of the new organisation. Captain Gifford, better educated than his colleagues, will draw up the rules and regulations and frame the oath of allegiance. The third man, James Wilson, is determined the day will not pass without the organisation coming into being.

Sloans House

Here at Sloan’s House in the heart of unspoilt Loughall, in what was Sloan’s Inn, we can stand in the very parlour where history was made.

Since the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, when the forces of Protestant King William of Orange defeated those of Catholic King James in one of Irish history’s most significant conflicts, the battle date had been commemorated by various ‘Orange’ organisations. But this would be the first formed as a largely defensive group.

Wilson, who had previously formed an Orange Boy’s Club in his own area, was a freemason. Many symbols from the two organisations will be shared. But Wilson, angry that the masons had refused to organise in response to Defender attacks, looks to the Orange Order to provide a military reaction.

He had earlier informed the Freemasons, ‘I will light a star in the Dyan that will eclipse you forever.’

As secretary, his original mallet before him, Sloan will issue warrants to each lodge that wishes to join the order and will respect its regulations. Wilson will be awarded the number one for his own Orange lodge. Other lodges from the nearby area, such as Portadown, will also earn these prestigious low numbers.

Follow the timeline around Sloan’s House, now a multi-million pound interpretive centre, and the results of this formative meeting become obvious. From this modest beginning, the order will grow throughout Ireland, though always at its strongest in the north.

Many artefacts are on display around the exhibition room and throughout the recently extended building. You can see ‘Captain Quigley’s blunderbuss’, a famously loud gun used in the Defender’s attack on the Winters’ Inn.

 A decanter box owned by William Blacker is displayed too. A wealthy local landlord, lead from the roof of his mansion was used to fashion bullets for the conflict. Blacker will become the first Grandmaster of the Orange Order.

Also in evidence are roll books and minutes dating back to 1796, a bible from 1690, the year of the Battle of the Boyne, presented to the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Craigavon, a toasting glass used at the Siege of Derry and a military commission signed by King William in 1693.

As the Orange Order developed so did its traditions. The annual parades, seen today around the world, are documented here from their earliest incarnations and there are many different sashes and collarettes, not to mention huge Lambeg drums, a prominent, and very noisy, feature of the parades.

As Orangemen emigrated they brought their traditions with them and there are lodges throughout the world. Photographs displayed show parades in Togo, South Africa and Canada, where the Mohawk Lodge wear Mohawk headdresses as they march.

It’s a long way from the simple parlour room where a handful of men made history back in September 1795.

 

Sloans House