A new Orange hall with facilities reckoned to be the best in Ireland has been officially opened in Stranocum.
The Huey Memorial Hall, costing a six-figure sum, was bankrolled almost in its entirety by a prominent member of the Lodge who, along with his wife, carved out a highly successful business career in America.
James and Irene Huey’s generosity has gifted Stranocum LOL 749 with a hall that has few equals.
Nothing was spared in the building, with a high quality finish encompassing kitchen, Lodge Room, toilets and facilities to enable the Lodge to run many functions.
Work started on July 1 last year and was finished in good time to have its opening and dedication on Saturday.
Several local bands and a large number of brethren turned up for the event in weather that proved ideal for those gathered.
The rain had been forecast but , in the end, the entire proceedings were conducted in mild conditions.
Speaking beforehand, Mr Huey said he was proud of the building and what had been done by those involved, but quipped “Never again!”
His ancestors and family members have been members of the Lodge for more than 100 years, and the hall – which has been built on the site of the old Reading Room – will stand as a fitting tribute to Mr and Mrs Huey’s tremendous generosity.
It was fitting that the American flag fluttered alongside the Union Jack at the entrance to the hall, signifying the bond between the Orange Order in Ireland and their counterparts in America, where Mrs Huey is Supreme Grand Mistress and Mr Huey is World Imperial Vice President and a Past Grand Master in America.
Another lofty member of the Orange Order, Bro Edward Stevenson was a guest speaker, and he paid fitting tribute not only to the standard of the hall, but to the generosity of the Hueys.
In her address, Mrs Huey dwelt on the background to the construction and had high praise for all the workmen involved.
She urged all members of the Lodge to “pull together” and show what it is to be a true Orangeman and Christian.
She said it was completely at the discretion of the Lodge who gained admission or to whom it was rented.
Finally, she urged members to hold the Lodge to a high standard so that current and future members will be proud to be a part of it.
Similar sentiments were voiced by Mr Huey who also urged members to take care of the hall for future members.
“Use it, don’t abuse it”, he said adding that anyone who came through the doors were welcomed, provided they were of good character.
Bro Jack Anderson welcomed guests and the chairman for the day was Bro. Gardiner Kane, WDM Ballycastle District. Rev. K. Crowe, Rev. Dr. Paul Reid and Canon AA Johns were also involved.
The cutting of the ribbon was by Mrs Mary Anderson, who received a presentation of scissors from little Steven Huey, while the unveiling of the plaque was by Mrs Nora McKay and Mrs Annie McKenzie.
A parade, which included representatives from Dooran Lodge in Co. Donegal. where Mrs Huey’s father and uncle were members for more than 60 years, was held through the village, and a dance followed the official opening, with a packed crowd enjoying the music and the facilities.