LOL–and mind your eardrums

In web world, the acronym LOL stands for Laugh Out Loud. In Northern Ireland, it also stands for Loyal Orange Lodge or even Ladies Orange Lodge, the local or female chapters of the Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organization whose members spend the month of July, and particularly the 12th of July, marching up and down the roads of Ulster commemorating the victory of William the third of England, Prince of the Dutch house of Orange, at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690.  You’ve probably never heard of either the King, the house or the battle, and yes it was all a long time ago.


The Orange order was founded in 1795, a time of particular tension between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, and it’s done its bit to fuel sectarian fires ever since. This is literally true–Prods celebrating the 12th of July light giant bonfires or “boneys” on the night before the parades (the 11th night) and often burn effigies of Robert Lundy a traitor said to have sided with the Catholic forces of King James –or something.You can watch an effigy of Lundy being piped to his death below.

You can read more about the pain and suffering caused to and by each Northern Irish community around the 12th of July here if you’re interested but don’t feel obliged, and don’t worry if you can’t make any sense of who is doing what to whom and why —it’s all impossibly silly and the Crone has no truck with it. So why is she talking about parades this 12th of July?

The Crone’s friend Mrs Forgan, a good Catholic girl who lives in London, won’t be even slightly surprised. She maintains that the Crone is a closet Orange woman for three reasons:

  • It’s part of Crone culture and heritage. Mrs Forgan knows you can take a Protestant far from the Shankill, but she thinks the Shankill lives on in the Prod.
  • The Crone is often in Belfast in the second week of July. It happens her father is a Cancer and celebrates his birthday at that time, but for Mrs F, this is more proof that the Crone sneaks off to march a traditional route, bedecked in a sash, wearing a bowler hat and banging a Lambeg drum.
  • The Crone is a Protestant and not to be trusted. For Mrs F this is evidence enough to accuse her of secret Orange activity.

The Crone thought that her friend’s suspicions might die down this year when it became obvious that the Crone was spending the 12th of July in Itchy Ankle, far away from the flute bands and fancy collarettes.

Orangemen on their way to Itchy Ankle?

Orangemen on their way to Itchy Ankle?

But guess what: The Crone on her way to the local store last night was astonished to see a sign warning that the road was to be closed for a 12th of July parade, and to expect delays. The Crone hurried home and tried to put the coincidence out of her mind but all day she has had her ear cocked, listening for a distant strain of “The Sash” or ” Derry’s Walls”

The Crone has no idea what the local parade was all about, but she knows that it had nothing to do with the Glorious Revolution. She promises that the video below was not shot in Itchy Ankle and that murals of the sort found in East or North Belfast will not suddenly start popping up on every crab shack and shed on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Crone particularly likes this video, not for the music, but because it shows what the weather is typically like in Co Down in the middle of summer. Also note the puddle prominent in the foreground of Ian Cowe’s photo below–clues as to why Northern Ireland is a great place to be “from”. LOL and happy 12th of July.


Note the puddle...



About Liz Barron

US Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. Permanent address in Washington DC. Deep roots in Northern Ireland and persistent Belfast accent. Blogger,cook, mother, grandma, Scrabble-player and enthusiastic world traveler.
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