August 26, 2013

W. D. Allen MP's 1925 critique of the Orange Order

An 1925 essay penned by the Ulster MP W.D. Allen on an Orange demonstration in Tyrone paints an eerily contemporary portrait:
"Under the streamers in the long and wet and narrow cobbled streets, in the early afternoon they are forming columns. They are marching in ragged line – that great nuisance of today – the Protestants of Ulster. Where are they marching along the muddy road, solemnly and ponderously, and fixedly . . . ? You may laugh, you overeducated, you supercilious, you townbred froth of things. The signpost says ‘to the asylum’ – their muddy hobnailed boots go splashing into a wet and peaty meadow bordered with rich, green, swaying trees, cut by a savage wind, needled with driving rain, grey cloud looming over. Cheerfully, quickly, methodically, they roll the banners, for they are expensive banners . . . bought with the weekly threepences and sixpences of working men. Four men . . . noticeable for their gaunt and bitter aspect, maimed and bemedalled, roll out a banner, bordered in black crêpe, Thiepval 1916 it reads. So comfortably remote, remoter even than the ‘relief of Derry’ [in 1689] they are celebrating. Silently, humorously, doggedly, they mass around a dripping platform, a remarkable feudal, patriarchal, tribal, historical anachronism in these days of moderation, toleration – whine, don’t fight – enlightenment." 
Frank McGuinness’s play Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme also hit on the Orange Order. 
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