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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 06:39 GMT
Orange approval for Boyne centre
Replica artillery pieces feature in the Boyne project
Replica artillery pieces feature in the Boyne project
An interpretive centre on the Battle of the Boyne site will prove a magnet for Orange tourism, the head of the loyal order has predicted.

Grand Master Robert Saulters headed a delegation from the order who visited the site near Drogheda.

The site of the iconic battle is being turned into a multi-million euro historical and interpretive facility by the Irish government.

Mr Saulters said the Irish government "deserve great credit" for their work.

The battle was fought between William of Orange and Catholic King James II in 1690. The Protestant Orange Order celebrate William's victory on 12 July.

Last year, the Irish government announced it would spend 15m euro to fund a museum and interpretive centre at the site.

A small visitors' centre is already operating and attracted 25,000 visitors last year.

Plans for the future include an extended centre with maps, models and graphics depicting the battle.

Oldbridge House
Oldbridge House is to house the interpretive centre

There will also be a display of replica 17th Century artillery and a series of audio-visual displays.

The battle was the largest number of troops ever deployed on an Irish battlefield, with both kings commanding their forces in person - 36,000 on the Williamite side and 25,000 on the Jacobite side.

At stake were the English throne, French dominance in Europe and the balance of power in Ireland.

The work should be completed by the summer of 2008.

A walled garden at the rear of Oldbridge House will be restored and horses will be kept in a number of new stables.

It is believed that more than 5,000 horses were involved in the battle and it is hoped that the horses will give people, particularly children, a sense of what happened.

A new entrance is being built for the site and there will be extensive new car parking. Guided tours will be available to take people around the battlefield and explain the crucial actions on the day.

Mr Saulters said it was fascinating to see the work that was being done at the Boyne.

Tourists are already drawn to reenactments at the site
Tourists are already drawn to reenactments at the site

"At the moment it is a bit like a construction site but the plans we were shown were impressive," he said.

"I believe that this will be a major tourist attraction for people from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and much further afield," he said.

"Already many of our Orange brethren visit the site but when it is completed I am sure the numbers will increase dramatically.

"The work being done by the Irish Government to preserve this important site brings a very important legitimacy to the celebrations of the Orange Order and they deserve great credit for everything they are doing."

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