A new Orange Order museum in Loughgall is due to be formally unveiled next May.
As exclusively revealed by Armagh I last December, the application for the development was due to be given planning approval in January.
The new museum and offices is part of investment of almost £4 million, with funding from the EU Peace III programme.
The development will be at Main Street in the Co Armagh village.
The local Friends of Sloans House group has played a major role in driving forward the project, which it is hoped will draw tourists from all over the world to the Co Armagh village.
Some £3.6 million was made available for the provision of two interpretative centres – one of Sloans House in Loughgall and the other in Belfast.
Details of the plans for both were revealed in October 2013.
In a joint project to promote shared space and greater levels of reconciliation through education, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the County Armagh Grand Orange Lodge unveiled innovative plans to expand the Institution’s headquarters at Schomberg House and Sloans House, Loughgall.
The extension of Schomberg House will incorporate a museum, which will include a replica Orange Hall, displaying a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism across the world.
The new state-of-the-art building will also incorporate a research facility and educational resource, with particular access for school and cross-community focused visits.
The refurbishment of Sloan’s House – where the first warrants were signed over 200 years ago – will include an extension to cater for an additional museum exhibition area and provision of detailed information relating to the early history of the Orange Order.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, speaking when the plans were first revealed, said the initiative was “one of the most significant projects ever undertaken by the Institution”.
He said: “The aim of this transformational project is to create understanding, education, tolerance and mutual respect through interpretation and creation of shared space. The creation of two unique educational and resource centres will tell the story of the foundation of the Institution as well as its traditions, development and place in wider society.
“Such world-class developments at both Schomberg House and Sloans House will also preserve and present the impressive historical collections of the Orange Order in a form that will encourage an informative and engaging learning process.
“We greatly appreciate the support of the European Union’s PEACE III Programme and the assistance of our own devolved administration as well as the Government in the Republic – all of which will make a huge difference to our ongoing outreach.”
Also speaking at the time, Pat Colgan, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “Upon its completion, this EU funded project will promote a greater awareness of the history and traditions of the Orange Order.
“By proactively reaching out to people, on a cross-community basis, the Order will be able to demystify many of the existing perceptions of what it is. This open and honest dialogue will lead to a positive understanding of Orangeism and its place within our society.”
Among the historical artefacts at Sloans House will be Sloans table, where the first warrants were signed, a bust of King William and a musket with bayonet used at the Battle of the Diamond.
Picture: Google Street View
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