Every 12 July thousands of Presbyterians all over Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic march in memory of William of Orange, the man who presided over the introduction of the Penal Laws against their ancestors. Those laws included a ban on Presbyterians holding public office, a ban on Presbyterians studying at Trinity College Dublin (then the only university on the island), and the mandatory non-recognition of Presbyterian marriages, making the offspring of such unions illegitimate for inheritance purposes. Why do they march? Because they have forgiven old Willem comprehensively — on the rather dubious grounds that he must have been a nice man, as he also oppressed Catholics.
And, we now know, that's not the only bit of revisionism in the Manichaean Weltanschauung of the Orange. For Nuala McKeever has turned up a tasty titbit of gossip in the Bel-Tel.
"A while back on a tour of [Clifton Street Orange Hall] some interested people were shown a small museum on the top floor. Among the heavy oil portraits of be-sashed elders, they discovered minutes of an Orange Lodge meeting, that took place in that very building many years ago, written in Irish!"
Perhaps they recorded a meeting of Oidhreacht na hÉireann LOL 1303, the private British-Israelite lodge founded by William McGrath of TARA fame and Kincora infamy. Its meetings, known to have been a regular occurrence in the building, were attended by a select gang of credulous acolytes including McGrath's perennial sidekick Clifford Smyth. But LOL 1303 mis-spelt the Irish on its own banner. More likely the minutes are older still, from a period where it was not yet necessary to affect disregard for the traditional culture of one's native land to prove the pH of one's sectarian bile.
But don't go looking for those minutes any time soon. For Ms McKeever's article reveals that they have now been locked away from the prying eyes of any wishy-washy cultural post-modernists.
Wat leuk, as William of Orange might say.