THE imminent sale of the former Australia Cinema marks another stage in the long history of the Lords Place building.
The story of how the hall came to be built is linked to Orange’s prominent Dalton family and their unswerving support of the Irish national cause.
James Dalton Junior, the son of a convict from Limerick, rose to prominence through his successful Summer Street store and import-export business.
Doubtless his father’s transportation and the poverty he and his family endured in Ireland as a result had a profound effect on him.
When Irish politician John Redmond visited Orange in March 1883 on a tour to raise support for the Irish cause, he was barred from speaking at the School of Arts and the Oddfellows Hall.
Eventually, a sympathiser, Patrick Burke, made his auction hall available.
James Dalton and other Orange Catholics welcomed Redmond warmly, accommodating him at Dalton’s magnificent mansion, Duntryleague, and putting one of Dalton’s carriages at his disposal.
Dalton used the visit to reiterate his strong feelings about the way the British treated the Irish, stating: “Our fellow citizens are not interested in the maintenance of a cruel system of land tenure in Ireland, nor do they desire the perpetuation of acknowledged injustice there. Australians do not view with satisfaction the existence in Ireland of what is practically martial law; they have not given their approval to the packing of juries, the subordination of witnesses, or the return to those dark practices which have disgraced English rule in the past.”
“If the people of Australia were called on to submit to a tithe of the injustice under which Ireland is expected to be contented and loyal, a bloody revolution would be the sure and speedy result.”
As local justices of the peace James Dalton and his brother-in-law and Patrick Burke had taken oaths of loyalty to Queen Victoria and the British Government.
The colonial secretary later stripped all three of their powers.
James Dalton reacted to the government’s action by having the Australian Hall built in Lords Place in 1886 so that if ever a supporter of the Irish cause came to Orange again, a magnificent venue would be available.
The Australian Hall was built by J H Gain and opened in September 1886, by far the largest such hall in town, a venue for meetings, balls, shows and banquets.
Later it became the Australia Cinema.
Dalton’s support of and friendship with John Redmond resulted in Redmond marrying Dalton’s half-sister Johanna in 1883, while Redmond’s brother Willie married Dalton’s daughter Eleanor in 1886.
Orange and District Historical Society
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