1) Famous Orangemen have included Dr Thomas Barnardo, who joined the Order in Dublin, William Massey, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand, Harry Ferguson, inventor of the Ferguson Tractor, and Earl Alexander, the Second World War general.
2) Commemorations of the Battle of the Boyne predate the Orange Order. The Order was formed in 1795 and its first parade was held in 1796, but there is a record of a Twelfth parade in County Armagh in 1791, suggesting that the tradition of parades goes back well beyond the Order’s formation.
3) The Orange Order is an all-Ireland body, with lodges in Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, Dublin and Donegal. The only Twelfth procession in the Republic nowadays is at Rossnowlagh in County Donegal. There are almost 1200 lodges in Ireland, most of them in Northern Ireland
4) Orangeism spread in two main ways across the world; emigration of Protestants from Ireland, and through military warrants held by regiments. Fencible regiments employed in Ireland in 1798 went home to England and Scotland with Orange lodges already formed within them and these then transformed in time into civilian lodges. Hundreds of thousands of Irish Protestants over the years who were members of Orange Lodges have emigrated to countries such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere.
5) In Canada in 1900 one in three adult male Protestants belonged to an Orange lodge.
6) The colourful banners which Orange lodges carry can cost between £1,500 and £2,000 to produce.
7) Orangemen regularly give to charity. In 2004 £124,000 was raised for Cancer Research in Northern Ireland through the Grand Master’s Appeal, while individual lodges donate thousands to various charities. The Order’s own charity, the Lord Enniskillen Memorial Orange Orphan Society is named after a former Grand Master and assists several hundred dependents of lodge members who are in primary, secondary or third level education each year.
8) One of the most unusual Orange lodges in the world – Mohawk LOL in Ontario – will host world Orange leaders later this month when they gather in Toronto for the triennial Council of the various Grand Lodges. They will take part in a church parade and service on the Mohawk Reservation in Ontario at the start of the event, which will attract members from New Zealand, Australia, United States, Ireland, England, Scotland, Ghana and Togo
9) The Orange Order holds some very important museum archives and artefacts. Included in this list are King William’s saddlecloth, his gauntlets, letters and documents from the Williamite period and numerous old minute books, banners, documents, medals and coins. Some of these are on display at the Orange Order’s headquarters in East Belfast.
10) In recent years the Orange Order has become involved in community activities to a greater extent than ever before. In County Down, for example, groups based in Orange Halls have drawn down £1 million in funding for their communities. Credit Unions, which now operate in many Orange Halls, provide a valuable financial service for many.