A GOLDEN opportunity to celebrate presented itself on the evening of Friday 11th March, when the members of Dungiven Faith and Crown Defenders LOL 2036 extended an invitation to Orangemen near and far to mark the Lodge’s 50th anniversary.
A gala dinner and dance at the Radisson Hotel in Limavady saw the distinguished guests announced by Dungiven DM, William Semple, who asked the assembly to stand for their procession. They included the Grand Master of Ireland, Edward Stevenson; Deputy Grand Master of Ireland, Rev Alistair Smyth; Co. Londonderry Grand Master, Bro George Duddy; Limavady DM, James McCorkell, and Dungiven WM, David Carmichael, who were shown to their seats by Dungiven ‘Deacon Men’, Alwyn Mcfarlane David Poston.
The official welcome was performed by WM Carmichael, who gave a brief overview of his Lodge’s history, before handing over to Bro George Dallas, who acted as compere for the evening. In addition to the cutting of an anniversary cake WM Carmichael and his wife, Christine, highlights of the evening included the presentation of 50 years membership awards, Past Master certificates, and particularly a Long Service medal to WM Carmichael. There were also commemorative 50th Anniversary Jewels for each member of LOL2036.
The WM began his address by welcoming the special guests, distinguished officers, and the guests and their partners, and said he hoped it would be a very interesting and enjoyable evening for everyone. He said the organising committee had gone to great efforts preparing for the evening and he thanked them for their hard work. he also paid tribute to his wife and family for their support, as well as that offered by the officers and Brethern.
In a potted history he related how Dungiven Lodge was formed in 1961 by 13 members of neighbouring Lodges in the Limavady District and started off meeting in Dungiven Presbyterian Church Guildhall.
“Those early years were difficult as the more senior men will clarify, especially trying to parade our town to go to the annual Drumhead Service at Derryware, although it was banned for a few years, they persevered and we still walk to Church each year on the second Sunday of June. In 1967 the Lodge went to great effort raising money to purchase land in the town, and in May 1968 the new hall was officially opened and a new banner was unfurled,” he said, adding: “To mark this occasion a parade was held in the town, with some reports estimating over 10,000 participants. The Lodge enjoyed many years using the Orange Hall despite continued intimidation by local republicans throughout the years, however in May 1996 the Orange Hall was severely damaged in a massive fire in which it was destroyed, and regrettably it was never restored to its original glory, the Lodge now meets in Boveva Orange Hall”.
Outlining the charity work the Lodge does, he went on to relate how, two years ago they organised a trip to the Dan Winters cottage in Loughgall and to the Boyne Visitor Centre to help educate members about the Lodge’s heritage and organisation.
“Later this year we are taking a Lodge trip to the Somme Battlefields to Learn about the Great War and the ultimate sacrifice those young men paid for our Country.
He said the Lodge has always enjoyed marching at the Twelfth, including their accompanying accordion band, which led them for 20 years, but changing trends meant the band found it difficult to continue and stopped parading, adding: “With decreasing numbers a few members of the Lodge decided to change the musical instruments to flutes to try and breathe life into our organisation and encourage young men from around the area to join the band, and maybe then consider joining the Lodge. The Band was given a small donation to buy some flutes and in 2006 Dungiven Crown Defenders Flute Band was formed and they have been going from strength to strength. The Lodge is benefiting from this greatly with all recent members coming from within the ranks of the Band.
This year is also the band’s fifth Anniversary, and to mark the occasion they have bought new uniforms which they hope to wear for the first time at the Twelfth in Limavady.
The Grand Master of Ireland, Bro Edward Stevenson, commended the Lodge on their achievement and congratulated members on their fortitude over the years when as a minority grouping in Dungiven they had to endure both personal attacks and more especially attacks on their Orange Hall. In spite of this, he noted Lodge membership had remained stable, and was presently increasing which, he said, reflected strong leadership and the continuing efforts to promote Orange culture. GMI Stevenson went on to outline his aims for his tenure in office, which included the promotion of Christian values within the organisation, bringing to the fore the plight of relatives of murdered Brethren during the troubles, and seeing the completion of the proposed interpretive centre at Scomberg House.
He ended by presenting the Dungiven WM with a certificate to honour the achievement of reaching 50 years.
The Deputy Grand Master, Rev Alistair Smyth, who said Grace before the anniversary dinner, recalled his early memories as a child when he marched Dungiven Main Street with his uncle in Bellarena Accordian Band. He congratulated the organising committee and exhorted the Brethren to be true to the name of the Lodge. He also brought fraternal greetings form his own Lodge as well as the Grand Lodge.
Offering fraternal greetings, County Londonderry Grand Master, George Duddy, commended the Lodge on the achievement on reaching there 50 years and said it was very encouraging to see the support the Lodge had on the night, with the numbers in attendance.
He recalled how he had attended a Dungiven Lodge meeting a few years ago and how they had great numbers in attendance then. He thanked Dungiven Lodge for their invite and noted how well the organising committee had done and how professional the evening had been run.
James McCorkell, District Master of Limavady District LOL No6, brought fraternal greetings from Limavady district brethren and presented the Lodge with a Diploma in celebration of their anniversary.
Recalling the turbulent history endured by the Dungiven Orangemen, CGM McCorkell said: “I believe Dungiven will soon celebrate a second milestone this year, with the 5th anniversary of Dungiven Crown Defenders Flute Band. Dungiven Flute band filled the void left by the Accordion band that led the Lodge when I first joined the Institution in 1990. And I must say when you see and hear Dungiven Flute Band, you just know that they have instilled in them that same determination and pride that was so evident in those founding fathers.This gives us encouragement that we can be sure then, that the next generation of Dungiven Orangemen will carry on the torch that was lit 50 years ago.
After the meal Bro William Ross of Dungiven LOL proposed the toast to the Queen, while Bro George Dallas note that a long time friend of the Dungiven Lodge was in attendance – Bro William Douglas of Boveva Lodge – and related how he was considered a legend in the Limavady district and further afield. Thanking Bro Douglas for his commitment and encouragement when they were forming the Lodge he said Bro Douglas embodied all that was expected of a true Orange man. The Bovena man was given a standing ovation.
The formal programme ended with a toast to Dungiven LOL 2036 and singing of the National Anthem, and was followed with music from Maiden City Beat.