This article takes as its focus the deployment of soldiers from the North West of England in Ireland during the 1798 rebellion. It explores the various units of both fencibles and militia who were sent there, the controversies surrounding their actions in Ireland and considers the impact of their return on the North West. In particular the article examines the argument that the roots of the loyalist Orange Order in England emerged from the veterans of the government’s anti-insurgency campaign in Ireland. It finds that many of those English pioneers of Orangeism who later were prominent in the suppression of popular movements for change in the north of England, rarely, if ever, served during the rebellion itself. Moreover, the loyalist trope of Orangeism’s English founders having ‘blooded’ themselves in the fight against radicalism in Ireland, clashes with the reality that they imbibed their reactionary politics at lunches, balls and dinners rather than in the heat of battle.