The 12th of July- Orangemen’s Day

The 12th of July is the day when a whole bunch of protestants in Northern Ireland go Dutch. It is an event that truly intrigues me, because it basically goes against everything the Dutch stand for.

So what is it all about?

On the 12th of July every year. The day commemorates Protestant king William of Orange’s victory over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne: a pivotal moment for the Protestant cause. In Ulster, split 50/50 between Catholics and Protestants, the day has historically seen outbursts of sectarian violence. But today its reputation has improved, with most recent marches celebrated peacefully.

William III also widely known as William of Orange, was the sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder(Stewart) of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s, and King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II.He is sometimes informally known as “King Billy” in Ireland and Scotland. His victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is commemorated by Unionists, who display orange colours in his honour. He ruled Britain alongside his wife and cousin Queen Mary II, and popular histories usually refer to their reign as that of “William and Mary”.

William was the only child of William II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal, the daughter of Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His father died a week before his birth, making William III the Prince of Orange from birth. In 1677, he married Mary, the eldest daughter of his maternal uncle James, Duke of York, the younger brother of Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

The Twelfth itself originated as a celebration of the Battle of Aughrim, which took place on 12 July 1691 in the ‘Old Style’ (O.S.) Julian calendar then in use. Aughrim was the decisive battle of the Williamite war, in which the predominantly Irish Catholic Jacobite army was destroyed and the remainder capitulated at Limerick, whereas the Boyne was less decisive. The Twelfth in the early 18th century was a popular commemoration of Aughrim, featuring bonfires and parades. The Battle of the Boyne (fought on 1 July 1690) was commemorated with smaller parades on 1 July. However, the two events were combined in the late 18th century. The first reason for this was the British switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, which repositioned the nominal date of the Battle of the Boyne to 11 July New Style (N.S.) (with the Battle of Aughrim nominally repositioned to 23 July.

The event is organized by the Orange Order of Ulster.

So how much do we know about the Orange Order?

Here are some facts you might not have known before

1 The Order was founded in 1795 by Daniel Winter, James Sloan and James Wilson after a stand-off in Co Armagh between Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys and Catholic Defenders ended with the Battle of the Diamond and the deaths of 30 Catholics. Dan Winter’s House near Loughgall, where the meeting to form the Orange Order was held after the battle as Protestants sought to protect their properties, has been restored and can be visited.

2 The order’s name comes from Protestant King William of Orange who defeated Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. Orange refers to the region of Southeast France that was among William’s family holdings.

3 The Orange Order’s first marches took place on 12 July 1796 at Gosford, outside Markethill, Co Armagh.

4 William of Orange was asthmatic and though not a hunchback, walked with the appearance of one.

5 On February 20, 1702 William was riding Sorrel, a new horse, in the park of Hampton Court. As the horse began to gallop it stumbled on a molehill and fell, throwing William who broke his collarbone, with ultimately fatal consequences. A jolt while in a carriage a few days later caused the bone to break again. Fever set in and he died on March 8.

6 King Billy’s horse at the Battle of the Boyne wasn’t white as famously portrayed, it was brown. A white horse would have made him an easy target.

7 William was one of the first to utilise mass media. He arrived in England in 1688, at the invitation of British politicians seeking to rid the nation of Catholic King James II, armed with a printing press, producing 60,000 copies of his declaration which criticised the king and tried to convince the English he was a friend rather than an invader.

8 The name Lambeg Drum literally means ‘Little Church Drum’, quite inappropriate for one of the largest and loudest instruments in the world.

9 William’s father (William II, Prince of Orange) died two weeks before he was born and his mother (Mary, eldest daughter of King Charles I of England) when he was 10 years old.

10 Malahide Castle, near Dublin, is the ancestral home of the Talbot family. You can still visit the Great Hall where 14 members of the Talbot family sat down to breakfast on the morning of July 12, 1690. All were dead by that evening.

11 An estimated 50,000 took part in the Battle of the Boyne, Surprisingly, most survived, the casualty list estimated at around 2,000 killed. The fighting lasted about four hours.

12 William of Orange was both the son-in-law and nephew of King James II who he defeated at the battle of the Boyne.{Willie Nelson’s song “I’m my own grandpa” comes to mind) The battle was to prevent James handing over power in Ireland to Catholics. Most of William’s army were militia of Dutch and Danish nationality, and they had landed at Carrickfergus before moving south. Aligned to France, James II was warned by King Louis XIV not to face William’s army and instead burn Dublin and retreat west of the River Shannon and hold his ground there to regroup. He refused. He lost.

13 William of Orange had a narrow escape at the Boyne. He was almost killed when struck by a ricocheted piece of cannon fire on the foot and shoulder as he (according to legend) enjoyed a picnic and was surveying the battle field on July 11. He was also almost struck by musket fire during the battle by one of his own soldiers during the confusion of battle.

14 While the Battle of the Boyne was won by William of Orange, it didn’t win the war. That only came to a decisive conclusion exactly one year later at Aughrim on 12 July 1691.

15 The original Twelfth of July commemorations were to honour the Battle of Aughrim, not the Battle of the Boyne.

16 The Battle of the Boyne, going by the old Julian calendar which was used in Ireland at the time, actually took place on July 1. It wasn’t until 1752 that the Gregorian calendar was adopted in Ireland when the July 12 date became relevant. However, even after this date “The Twelfth” continued to be commemorated at Aughrim. In fact, 1690 and the Boyne only became significant in the late 18th century when the two battles were combined in a single commemoration.

17 In the 1960s the Orange Order boasted almost 100,000 members. There are less than 30,000 today.

18 The first Grand Lodge of Ireland meeting was held in Dublin. Dublin, as the administrative capital of the Island, was the natural headquarters for the Orange Institution and remained such until the Headquarters Buildings, the Fowler Memorial Hall in Rutland Square, was severely damaged in the Irish Civil War.

19 William’s wife Queen Mary had been devoted to him, and he to her. After the shock of her unexpected death in 1694, William became very withdrawn. Following her death he always carried with him a gold ring and a lock of Mary’s hair. William was buried in Westminster Abbey beside Mary on Sunday, April 12.

20 New Zealand’s first Orange lodge was founded in Auckland in 1842, only two years after the country became part of the British Empire, by James Carlton Hill of Co Wicklow.

21 Ghana, Nigeria and Togo are among the African countries to have embraced Orangeism. All have their own Orange lodges.

22 Stall in the ‘field’ sell all sorts of usual merchandise like Toy drums, CDs of band music, mugs and printed t-shirts. Only more recently have some entrepreneurs been more inventive. These days you can course Lego Orangemen and Terry’s Chocolate Orangemen.

23 The Orange Order’s headquarters in Northern Ireland are based in Schomberg House – taking its name from Frederick Schomberg (originally Friedrich Hermann von Schönberg) appointed William of Orange’s commander-in-chief in Ireland in 1689, now Duke of Schomberg, he was appointed commander-in-chief in Ireland. Hit by musket fire, he died in the Battle of the Boyne and is buried in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

24 The River Boyne only just scrapes into the top ten of the longest rivers in Ireland. It is tenth on the list at 112km. Longest is the Shannon (360km). The Foyle, the Bann and the Erne are all longer.

25 Famous Orangemen have included Dr Thomas Barnardo, who joined the Order in Dublin, William Massey, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand and Earl Alexander, the Second World War general.

During the Troubles (late 1960s to late 1990s), the Twelfth was often accompanied by riots and paramilitary violence.[citation needed] In 1972, three people were shot dead on the Twelfth in Portadown and two people were killed in Belfast. Of the five in total, two were killed by Republican groups and three were killed by Loyalist groups.[36] On the Twelfth in 1998, during the Drumcree conflict, three young boys were killed when loyalists firebombed their house in Ballymoney. The boys’ mother was a Catholic, and their home was in a mainly Protestant housing estate. The killings provoked widespread anger from both Catholics and Protestants.

Since the Troubles began, some bands hired to appear at Twelfth marches have openly shown support for loyalist paramilitary groups, either by carrying paramilitary flags and banners or sporting paramilitary names and emblem A number of prominent loyalist militants were Orangemen and took part in their marches. In February 1992, the loyalist UDA shot dead five Catholic civilians in a betting shop in Belfast. When Orangemen marched past the shop that 12 July, some marchers held up five fingers in mockery of the five dead. The Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew, said that they “would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals”.

Every Twelfth between 1970 and 2005, British Army soldiers were deployed in Belfast to help police the parades. Due to improved policing, dialogue between marchers and residents, and the Northern Ireland peace process, parades have been generally more peaceful since the 2000s. The Parades Commission was set up in 1998 to deal with contentious parades.

The parades are mostly a display of bigotry and intolerance though. The opposite of what the colour Orange symbolises in the Dutch context.



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Bloody Sunday-1972


Today marks the 47th anniversary of Bloody Sunday sometimes also referred to as the Bogside Massacre.

Sunday January 30th 1972 started as any other Sunday in Derry but would end with tragedy and a population thrown into a dark backlash of opinion towards the British.


British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a peaceful protest march against internment. Fourteen people died: thirteen were killed outright, while the death of another man four months later was attributed to his injuries. Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. Other protesters were injured by rubber bullets or batons, and two were run down by army vehicles.The march had been organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). The soldiers involved were members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, also known as “1 Para”.

The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) organised a march to start at 3PM from the Bishops Field area of the Creggan. The march had already been deemed illegal by the British and from previous march’s the police force and the British proved too ruthless against peaceful demonstrators such as the attack on a civil rights march at Burntollet bridge.


The plan for the march was to walk down Creggan Hill, into William Street and onto the Guildhall Square, in the City Centre area. Over 15,000 people attended the march which proceeded from Creggan. The marchers were singing songs with some describing it as a carnival like event. As they reached the William Street area the British Army had set-up barricades so the march was diverted into the Bogside and towards Free Derry Corner, a small area that  isolated itself from the Northern Ireland state known as as no-go area for the British forces.Despite this, a number of people continued on towards an army barricade where local youths threw stones at soldiers, who responded with a water cannon, CS gas and rubber bullets.


As the riot began to disperse, soldiers of the 1st Parachute Regiment were ordered to move in and arrest as many of the rioters as possible. In the minutes that followed, some of these paratroopers opened fire on the crowd, killing thirteen men and injuring 13 others, one of whom died some months later.


A large group of people fled or were chased into the car park of Rossville Flats. This area was like a courtyard, surrounded on three sides by high-rise flats. The soldiers opened fire, killing one civilian and wounding six others.This fatality, Jackie Duddy, was running alongside a priest, Father Edward Daly, when he was shot in the back.



While the British Army maintained that its troops had responded after coming under fire, the people of the Bogside saw it as murder. The British government was sufficiently concerned for the Home Secretary to announce the following day an official inquiry into the circumstances of the shootings.

Opinion was further polarised by the findings of this tribunal, led by the British Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery. His report exonerated the army and cast suspicion on many of the victims, suggesting they had been handling bombs and guns. Relatives of the dead and the wider nationalist community campaigned for a fresh public inquiry, which was finally granted by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998.

Headed by Lord Saville, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry took 12 years and finally reported in 2010. It established the innocence of the victims and laid responsibility for what happened on the army.

Prime Minister David Cameron called the killings “unjustified and unjustifiable”. The families of the victims of Bloody Sunday felt that the inquiry’s findings vindicated those who were killed, raising the question of prosecutions and compensation.



I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of €2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then €2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks