City, residents have ties to Ireland

Published 9:58 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

By Amalia Kortright

LaGrange residents Sally Sue and John Bradley will hang a Northern Irish flag in front of their home to celebrate Orangeman’s Day on Wednesday, July 12. John Bradley, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom, said he spent part of his adult life in Northern Ireland.

According to the Bradley’s, Orangeman’s Day celebrates Protestant king William of Orange’s victory over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

“It gave the Protestants in Ireland the freedom of religion,” John Bradley said.

The Bradley’s said the Protestants of Northern Ireland typically celebrate Orangeman’s Day with a large parade, and Catholics line the streets to sell beer and food.

“They also have a national holiday on the next day to let people recover,” Sally Sue Bradley said.

While the Northern Irish Protestants have a huge celebration, the Bradley’s plan to celebrate on a much smaller scale.

“We’re just going to hang the flag, have a cup of tea and salute Northern Ireland,” Sally Sue Bradley said.

Sally Sue Bradley said there are commonly two flags flown in Northern Ireland, both of which center around the Ulster Banner, which consists of a large red cross, a six-pointed star and a red hand. The Protestant version includes a Union Jack in the top left corner, while the Catholic version does not. The Bradley’s will display the Protestant version.

Sally Sue Bradley said the hand is a reference to a legend of a dispute between two kings over some land in Northern Ireland. She said the two kings raced, under the premise that the land belonged to the first hand to touch the soil. One of the kings cut his hand off, threw it to the shore and was named the land’s rightful owner.

Bradley said LaGrange’s sister city, Craigavon, is located near the Northern Irish town of Dungannon, where his family is from. Since the Bradley’s moved to LaGrange in 2012, Sally Sue Bradley said John Bradley has maintained close contact with representatives from both cities.

“Every time anyone comes here from Northern Ireland, sister-cities ambassador Margaret Ross calls John,” Sally Sue Bradley said.

Historically, Northern Ireland has been rife with tension between Catholics and Protestants. As a protestant, John Bradley said he did not experience very much animosity between the two groups.

“I’m actually closer to some of my Catholic friends than some of my Protestant ones,” John Bradley said.

Sally Sue Bradley also mentioned that Northern Ireland has several ties to the United States. Presidents Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson and Chester A. Arthur are descendants of people from Northern Ireland. She said the Belfast Newsletter was also the first outside of the U.S. to print the Declaration of Independence.

The Bradley’s said Northern Ireland is its own country, separate from Ireland, in the UK. Sally Sue said there are many misconceptions about Northern Ireland, but she and her husband both love to visit.

“Most people who go to Ireland only visit the Republic, but Northern Ireland is beautiful. The people there are the nicest in the world,” Sally Due Bradley said.

“Northern Ireland is an interesting country, there are mountains and trees and flowers everywhere,” John Bradley added.