Three granite stones from an ill-fated monument built in 1736 to celebrate King William’s victory at the battle of the Boyne have gone on display in Belfast.
The monument, which once stood on the grassy slopes of the Boyne River, was destroyed in an explosion in May 1923. It is believed the structure was blown up by republicans, using dynamite removed from an Irish army camp.
The Orange Order also reveals it has long-held aspirations to one day see the memorial restored to its former glory at its original site.
The officers and members of Boyne Obelisk LOL 1690 have donated the stones, located within the grounds of the Cregagh Road museum. They were formally dedicated during a short service, led by Assistant Grand Master and Grand Chaplain, Rev Mervyn Gibson.
Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr Jonathan Mattison, said: “The obelisk stones are a wonderful addition to our cultural resource, and will enhance the significant number of artefacts already in our possession in relation to the Glorious Revolution. Their uniqueness and authenticity is further enriched by the fact they are surrounded by grass emanating from the Boyne.
“This unveiling has been long in the planning and we are indebted to the officers and members of the Boyne lodge for their generosity and foresight in facilitating this worthy process.”
He added: “This donation further underlines the museum’s status as an established repository for all Orange related history. It is extremely important such significant items are preserved for future generations, so that everyone can understand the narrative of our shared history.”
Worshipful Master of Boyne Obelisk LOL 1690, Jim Wilson, said: “We are delighted to donate these original stones to the Museum of Orange Heritage, and in so doing ensure another piece of our history is preserved for posterity.
“The stones once formed a small part of the large obelisk which stood 174 foot high at the Boyne as a memorial to the battle and the fallen. It was for a time the largest structure of its kind in Europe. All that remains today is the base and a few scattered stones of the obelisk.
“The ultimate aim of the lodge remains to restore the original obelisk and we will strive to achieve our goal, as a lasting tribute for future generations.”
The Belfast museum, which officially opened last year, displays a wealth of items and artefacts relating to Orange history across the world. A sister facility, focusing on the origins of Orangeism, is located at Sloan’s House in Loughgall, Co Armagh.
An exhibition commemorating the sacrifice of Orangemen who fought at the Battle of the Somme is currently ongoing at the Institution’s headquarters.