The last Connacht 12th…

Seldom realised today, is that outside Ulster the Orange parading tradition at one stage was manifest in almost every county in Ireland to some degree. In Connacht Sligo Orange parades effectively stopped before 1850, but in Leitrim occasional Orange processions were taking place well into the 20th Century. South Leitrim had two active Orange Districts at this point in the form of Newtowngore and of Carrigallen itself, while the County also had Manorhamilton District in the North, and the almost dormant Leitrim Town District on its western border. The long established practise was that the North Leitrim lodges (along with Sligo brethren) would travel to processions in Fermanagh, while those lodges from the South-East of the County tended to work very closely with their nearby counterparts in West Cavan.

Carrigallen Twelfth headline in Cavan Weekly News
The Cavan Weekly News reported on the Carrigallen 12th on 20th July 1907

The last ever full 12th of July procession in Connacht took place in 1907 in the small town of Carrigallen in the deep South of the County. On the morning of the 12th of July 1907 the lodges assembled at Kivvy Cross on the edge of the town, a cross roads situated beside the Carrigallen Presbyterian Church. There they began to walk through Carrigallen at 12.30pm, the entire gathering making its way to a place called Kivvy Hill.

Among the lodges on parade from County Leitrim where Killegar, Cullies, Augaleague, Newtowngore and Corgar (Ballinamore) from Newtowngore District; and Corbrack and Kivvy from Carrigallen District.  From County Cavan, Arva District and Killeshandra District were heavily represented. The Arva contingent included Corhanna, Woodland, Corlespratten, Castlepoles, Arvagh and Drumkeerin; with some of the Killeshandra District lodges present including Killeshandra, Bohara, Portlongfield, Clodrum, Drumcrow, Drumkilroosk (2 lodges) and Clonkeen.

By 1.30pm the assembly had reached Kivvy Hill, at which time a meeting was opened. A large platform party included the County Grand Master of Leitrim Rev Thomas Humphries, Brother Samuel Warrington of Newtowngore, Rev Martin the District Master of Killeshandra and William Johnston District Master of Arva.

'Kivvy Cross' in Carrigallen, overlooked by Carrigallen Presbyterian Church built in 1836
‘Kivvy Cross’ in Carrigallen, overlooked by Carrigallen Presbyterian Church built in 1836

The Rev Martin opened proceedings, before the Chair was taken by Rev Humphries. The Rev opened by saying how glad he was to be there today, and especially to be presiding over a meeting of the Orangemen of his own County, stating that the Country at large was in a very disturbed state currently, but that thankfully locally it was not. Before finishing he made special reference to Colonel Edward Saunderson, who had died earlier that year; praising him as a Unionist but primarily as a consistent and unfailing Orangeman.

He ended his contribution to proceedings by proposing several resolutions for the meeting, the first being ‘That we the Orangemen of the County of Leitrim, along with those of the bordering districts of Cavan, in public meeting assembled, take this opportunity to express once more our loyalty to our King and to the constitution’. After which he remarked that if some had their way it would be them who would be ‘the rebel party in Ireland’, but they would fight against that to their very last breath. This was greeted with a shout of ‘No Home Rule!’ from the crowd.

Rev Martin followed, telling the assembly how happy he was to be addressing the gathering in the County in which he had been raised as a small boy. Referencing Home Rule he made clear his belief that a Home Rule Bill would simply mean a ‘Rome Rule’ Bill. At the minute there were seven people in the County being boycotted, and 22 being partially boycotted, with it causing great difficulty not only in business but in every day survival. When Martin spelled out his belief that the day was coming where measures would be put in Parliament that would make it harder for them to live in their own land, after applause a voice stated ‘We will shoulder the rifle’. Other speakers continued the theme, before the gathering came to an end with the singing of God Save the King, and the various lodges returning to their own halls and lodge rooms.

Over the turbulent Home Rule Crisis period, the Great War, and the subsequent turmoil in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish conflict and the Irish Civil War; there were no further 12th processions scheduled for County Leitrim. That came to an end in 1931, when the Orangemen of South Leitrim and West Cavan organised their celebrations for the town of Newtowngore. The event however did not take place after the IRA in number flocked to the town, destroyed a platform erected for the meeting, in the process erecting a tricolour over it. It was made clear that Orangemen where no longer welcome to publically express either their culture or their religion in the Province of Connacht.

Newtowngore Platform wrecked
The destroyed Orange platform in Newtowngore in 1913 with Tricolour erected above it



  1. Very interesting piece. Some of those lodges are still functioning as is the County Grand Lodge. I think there are Johnstons in Arva yet. Lots of work needs to be done. I found out interesting stuff in Athy on visit in July.

  2. There is quite a bit written on The Battle of Ardrum Hill which was more of a skirmish when an Orange parade was stopped on Ardrum Hill on the approach to Ballinamore. I have some press cuttings relating to the incident.

  3. Wondering if any information is available on the Orange Order in the neighbouting county of Longford. I have an old sash for Templemichael LOL 1595 and the Church of Ireland parish in Longford town is still Templemicheal Parish Church. The sash came to me from a house clearance in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim. Longford Museum passed me to GL where I had already made enquiries but still no responce after over a year :O(

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