The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions
Every summer throughout Northern Ireland, tens of thousands of Protestants parade; wearing bowler hats and collarettes and carrying banners with biblical and historical scenes, they are viewed by outsiders as triumphalist bigots lording it over the minority population. However, to the members of the loyal institutions, they are merely commemorating the courage of their forefathers, proudly celebrating hard-won civil and religious freedoms, and demonstrating their loyalty to God and the Crown.
During the last few years, organised opposition to parades has led to violent confrontations. Hopelessly inept at public relations, the Ulster Protestants stay silent while their heritage and traditions are traduced around the world. In The Faithful Tribe, Ruth Dudley Edwards gives them their voice. She examines their history, traditions and symbolism, records their fears and their joys, and explains how their parades have so often been the symbolic battleground of the tribal struggles of Northern Ireland.
The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions published by Harper Collins, 448pp, Hardback £17.99. Available on kindle and as a paperback on Amazon.
Shortlisted for Channel 4/The House Politico’s Book of the Year
No outsider has travelled into the heart of Orangeism with a mind so open and ears so attentive as Ruth Dudley Edwards… In the course of her quite amazing journey, this Dublin middle-class academic of Catholic background, has absorbed and revelled in the culture of what she could call true Orangeism. With a combination of vivid contemporary journalism and deep historical scholarship, she has managed to portray Orangeism’s beating heart – through its turbulent and bloody history and its monumental afternoon teas.
Ruth Dudley Edwards’s portrait of the loyal institutions – the Orange Order, Apprentice Boys and Royal Black Preceptory – is engrossing and illuminating… Her account should convince the open-minded that they have far greater virtues and a stronger case than is normally recognised.
The depth of [Dudley Edward’s’s] learning and breadth of her sympathy, make this a compelling book, the product of genuine free thinking and spare, fine writing. Few books published this year will have the charm, learning, wisdom and humanity of The Faithful Tribe.
An important and timely book. It should be required reading for those who pontificate on Drumcree. It will probably be assailed on both sides, which in Northern Ireland amounts to something of a critical success.
Dr Edwards has ensured that even if readers don’t agree with the Orangemen’s stand, at least they may better understand it.