Colonel Edward James Saunderson (1837-1906) – whose bronze statue stands in the centre of Portadown – would have approved.
For, after 45 years of a break, at his former estate in County Cavan, a traditional Orange parade and service has been resumed.
The Lodge from Wattle Bridge (just over the Border in County Fermanagh) resumed what was once their annual parade into the Colonel’s former estate (just over the Boarder in County Cavan) and there wasn’t a word about it in the media. It proceeded from what is now the shell of Castle Saunderson to the restored family church, about a mile away.
The Colonel was MP for Cavan from 1865-77 and for North Armagh 1885 until his death in 1906, before the partition of Ireland.
The negotiations for the resumption weren’t exactly intense. The members of Wattle Hill suggested to the current estate owners (Cavan County County) that maybe the time had come for the parade – abandoned during the troubles – to resume. The response an immediate acceptance.
Co-operation and common sense have, of late, been common place in the Saunderson part of the world near Belturbet, County Cavan. The local authority has turned part of the estate into a major international facility for the Scouting fraternity.
It was opened recently by none other than the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.
Northern Ireland and Craigavon were well represented - by Stormont Minister Nelson McCausland, Junior Minister Jonathan Bell (once Mayor of Craigavon) and Samuel Gardiner, also an ex-Mayor and current MLA for Upper Bann. Mr Gardiner had earlier campaigned for the restoration of the Colonel’s Grave (which has been completed) and for the refurbishment of the family church close to the grave. That, too, has been done and it was there that the Wattle Hill service was held.
Colonel Saunderson Accordion Band from Fermanagh led the parade to the church and a local silver band provided the music for the service.
By all accounts it was an uplifting occasion, re-established with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of goodwill.
It took one members of the Garda Siochana to ‘control’ the event. He directed the traffic.