The Order

In his book “The Narrow Ground” A.T.Q. Stewart says: “Because the Orange Institution has often been held to be the cause of fermenting sectarian strife it has long ago been forgotten that its birth was not the cause but the consequence of prolonged and severe sectarian conflict lasting over 20 years in a part of County Armagh.

The Loyal Orange Institution was founded after the Battle of the Diamond on September 21, 1795. When the skirmish ended, the Protestants formed a circle, joined hands and declared their brotherhood in Loyalty to the Crown, the Country and the Reformed Religion.

Captain John Gifford, of the Royal Dublin Militia, stationed at Portadown, was present in Sloan’s Inn at Loughgall when it was founded, and it is claimed that he made up the Oath and drew up the rules.

Amongst others present were James Wilson of the Dyan, Thomas Sinclair of Derryscallop and James Sloan, the Innkeeper who was regarded as the first leader.

As more of the gentry joined, the Institution grew so rapidly that District and County Lodges were formed.

It was soon recognised that there should be some uniformity of practice and on 12th July 1796 at Portadown the idea of a Grand Lodge was mooted.

Wolsey Atkinson of Portadown was appointed Secretary and requested to issue printed Lodge warrants as opposed to the previously hand-written “James Sloan” versions. And so the beginnings of the Order we know today. (click here for more information on The Early Years of the Order).

The religious basis of the order

The Orange Institution is a Christian organisation.

As Orangemen our trust is in God and our faith and dependence is in Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Lord of mankind. Our purpose is to maintain the Christian faith by word and deed; to propagate and defend that faith which we have received from the Church of the New Testament through the faithfulness of the Protestant Reformers. It is Christ-centred, Bible-based, Church-grounded. By it we are moulded in character and conduct.

The Orange Institution is set for the defence of Protestantism. This is true to the intention of Orangemen who are committed to the Christian faith with its Reformation emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of mankind. There are also the Protestant beliefs in freedom of conscience; the priesthood of all believers and the primary place and purpose of the Holy Bible in Christian faith and conduct.

We proclaim “Civil and religious liberty for all : special privileges for none”. We do not deny to others their civil and religious liberties; we expect the same tolerance from them. We shall be strong for truth, for peace, for the making of a good, fair and just society to which we shall contribute liberally as good citizens.


What does Orangeism stand for today?

It should be remembered that the Order has a world-wide membership. The structure which is Orangeism has its basis in the coming together of men of goodwill who are determined to use what power and influence they can muster to ensure that civil and religious liberty is maintained.

Members of the Orange Institution are pledged to uphold the Protestant faith and liberty under the law. They are neither bigots nor extremists. Standing for tolerance and compassion towards all they also stand for the underlying principle of the Christian faith and the dignity and rights of the individual.

The Orange Order is fundamentally a Christian organisation. The Institution stands in the Reformed tradition as the various statements contained in the “Qualifications” illustrate:-

  • LOVE OF GOD - “a sincere love and veneration for his Heavenly Father. He should never take the name of God in vain”.
  • FAITH IN CHRIST - “steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind”.
  • AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE - “he should honour and diligently study the Holy Scriptures and make them the rule of his faith and practice”.

We are committed to the cause of Civil and Religious Liberty for all. It is our desire to live at peace with all men and to ensure that all men have peace in which to live.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland believes it is vital

  • that civil and religious liberty is maintained in Ulster, that the Christian faith, Reformed and Protestant, will be preached and taught here.
  • that the British connection is maintained.
  • that every effort is made to make our country happy, prosperous and outward looking, a good place for everyone who lives there.
  • that the Protestant religion must be a self-propagating faith whilst not denying the same rights to other religious persuasions.


Our members have always sought to play a positive role in their country. We have had Leaders in Political Life as well as in Finance, Industry and Education and we have had hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who living out their faith and principles have made their local community, their country and indeed the world a better place.

The Orange Institution was the original provider of the community hall or leisure centre and Orange Halls continue to play a central role in the life of the community with over 1,000 different activities carried on in our Halls.

We are at the forefront of preserving and promoting the unique culture of our people.

Frequently asked questions

What Is The Orange Institution?
It is both a Protestant and a patriotic association pledged to uphold civil and religious liberty. It is often referred to as ‘The Orange Order’.

Where does the title “Orange” come from?
In memory of King William III, Prince of Orange, who secured religious freedom and through the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1691 laid the foundation stones for democratic government.

Is the Orange Institution a secret society?
An organisation whose members take part in colourful public processions could hardly be considered to be secret. Equally the principles and objectives of Orangeism are in the public domain. (For further information see “What Does Orangeism Stand For Today?”). It is true that, in common with most organisations, meetings are for members only.

Do members have to take an oath?
No. A prospective member simply has to affirm his acceptance of the Principles of the Reformation and loyalty to his country.

Are you anti Roman Catholic?
Orangeism is a positive rather than a negative force. It wishes to promote the Reformed Faith based on the Infallible Word of God – the Bible. Orangeism does not foster resentment or intolerance. Condemnation of religious ideology is directed against church doctrine and not against individual adherents or members. (For more information see “The Religious Basis of the Order”).

What is the purpose of your parades?
They are a means by which we witness for our faith and celebrate our cultural heritage. (For more details see “The Tradition of Parades”).

What is the meaning of some of the terms used by the organisation?

LODGE - The name given to the branch or club that members belong to. Each Lodge is given a number and also usually adopts a title e.g. “Aughlish Heroes” Loyal Orange Lodge (L.O.L.) 74.

WORSHIPFUL MASTER - The Chairman of a Lodge.

DEPUTY MASTER - The Vice-Chairman of a Lodge.

ORANGE HALL - The building used for Lodge meetings. Orange Halls are frequently used as community centres where a variety of social activities are based.

BROTHER - Members refer to each other as Brother. This is in common with many fraternal societies.