Chair hosts reception for Ballindarragh Accordion Band and Ballindarragh LOL 689

31st May 2022

Ballindarragh Accordion Band and LOL 689

Recently the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson, hosted a reception for Ballindarragh Accordion Band and Ballindarragh Loyal Orange Lodge 689 in recognition of the contribution they have made in the community for a significant number of years.

Below is the text of the speech delivered by Councillor Thompson at the reception:

Distinguished guests, Councillors, Ladies and gentlemen

As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all here to the Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen this evening for this reception for Ballindarragh Accordion Band and Loyal Orange Lodge No. 689.

Ballindarragh Orange Lodge was formed on 5 May 1798 and the first Worshipful Master was Mr James King, a local farmer and a member of the Gentry.  Mr King was, I am told, also Captain of the local militia (Yeomanry Corps) and I understand a number of the Lodge Members also served in the local militia and their role was to assist the civil authorities during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

In the early years, the Lodge meetings took place in houses and met regularly at Droles, Lisbellaw until 1879 when the meetings moved to William Gardiner’s.  The Lodge continued to meet there until 1939 when a purpose built Orange Hall was erected by Brothers George and John Montgomery who owned the local Post Office.

In 1939 Brother Charles Wilson was elected as the Worshipful Master and he held this position until 1960 when he was succeeded by Brother Sam Armstrong.  From 1975 to 1984, the Worshipful Master was Brother James Armstrong and he was succeeded by Brothers Robert Hogg, Nigel Beacom, Gary Kernaghan, Eric Morrison and, your current Worshipful Master, Niall Hogg.

The Lodge purchased its first banner in 1923 with subsequent banners being purchased in 1949, 1964, 1992 and most recently in 2015.

Ballindarragh Accordion Band was formed in 1959 following agreement by the Lodge and I understand all Members contributed £1.00 towards the purchase of accordions.  I am also told that you purchased similar sized accordions and 4 side drums in 2007 at a cost in excess of £20,000 which is quite a significant sum of money.

The first tutor of the Band was Mr Tommy Watson from Ballyreagh, Tempo and he was succeeded by Mrs Maggie Whitsitt, Mr Alex Hetherington and your current tutor, Mr Malcolm Cathers.

I understand you have currently 25 Band Members from the age of 7 years to over 60 years and you meet weekly in Ballindarragh Orange Hall for practice.

As well as teaching the skills of playing the accordion or drums and reading music, being in a band also teaches you a variety of valuable life skills including teamwork and better communication, whilst developing your confidence and having fun.

As I alluded to earlier, it can be expensive to sustain a Band and a Lodge and it is a testament to the strength and support of the local community that you have maintained both for such a long number of years and I commend you and indeed the community for this.

Being part of a Band and a Lodge is special because you are part of a unique family providing intergenerational experiences both cultural and religious and the opportunity to make lifelong friends and memories every time you go on parade.

It is encouraging that the Band has a number of younger members which augurs well for the future of the Band and I would encourage them to continue to play and encourage other young people to join so that Ballindarragh Accordion Band and Loyal Orange Lodge can continue for generations to come and the heritage and culture is preserved.

On behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I would like to commend all Members, past and present, on your commitment and hard work which has sustained Ballindarragh Accordion Band and Loyal Orange Lodge in a rural area.  Each of you can be proud of the part you have played as a Member and I wish you every success for the future so that the Band and the Lodge can continue to grow from strength to strength.

Thank you.