Manage episode 323787423 series 3284865
In the Spring of 2019, Scottish police launched investigations into incidents at two football matches. In the first, Aberdeen fans were accused of using colorful language to suggest that English football manager Steven Gerrard was an Orange man. A few weeks later, Aberdeen’s own manager Derek McInnes was targeted with similar chants from Celtic fans. The fact that fans from Aberdeen – a largely secular city could find themselves on either side of this type of incident is indicative of the fact that many of us have little understanding of the subject.
For one thing, when you remove the accompanying pejoratives, any actual member of the Orange Order would be quite proud of his membership and his heritage. But it’s this kind of conflict, based around misunderstanding and prejudice that I was all too familiar with having grown up in the 1980s. On one hand, we saw in the news how the IRA a nominally Catholic terrorist group would plant bombs and do battle with nominally protestant groups like the UVF.
But somehow, in the back and forth, amid accusations of doing right and wrong, a group of people known as the Orange Order would get drawn into the conflict seemingly just for holding commemorative marches. Meanwhile, outspoken firebrand protestant politician Ian Paisley was often held up by rivals as the archetypal Orange man even though he had long since left the group. Incidentally, the apparently extremist Paisley went on to form a close friendship with former IRA leader Martin McGuinness.
The stereotypes you hear are of presbyterian, Scots Irish doing battle with Irish Catholics. But anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Irish history could tell you this was an inaccurate oversimplification.
As someone with mixed Irish and English, Catholic, and Protestant heritage, I’ve always been curious to learn more about the Orange Order. Who they are, what are their origins, and what they actually believe. And above all, to understand the group in the context of its origins versus what it represents today.
I was fortunate enough to find an expert in the field. Dr. Jonathan Mattison, Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage.
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