Lodge No 398 Portlaoise
Brethren, We are very grateful to Very Wor Bro Harry Nicholls, Secretary of Lodge No 398 for his assistance in giving us access to visit the Lodge-rooms in Portlaoise belonging to Maryborough Lodge No 398 I.C. He very generously gave up one afternoon of his Christmas break to take us down and show us round the Hall in Portlaoise.
External View of the Entrance to the Lodge-rooms
General View of the East
Inset Plate from the Master’s Throne
Our story begins on the 2nd May 1763 when the Most Wor, The Grand Lodge of Ireland issues Warrant No 398 to Bros Lawler Rooke, Robert Lester and Digby Lawler, to hold a Lodge in Maryborough ( Portlaoise ), to be known as the Maryborough Lodge. Bro Lawler Rooke became the Foundation Master, with Bros Robert Lester and Digby Lawler serving as the Foundation Wardens.
A further sixteen Brethren were registered on the 2nd May, making them also Foundation Members of the new Lodge. Indeed, the number is so large, that it raises the question of whether or not, this was in fact a case of a pre-existing Hedge Lodge finally taking out a Warrant to regularise its position, as a Lodge registered officially under The Grand Lodge of Ireland. Back in those very early days, in the 1760’s the Lodge met in the upstairs of the public house of Mr. George Frost, then known as "The Bear Inn".
Grand Lodge archives note that in the year 1805 Warrant No 398 was -
Removed to THE QUEEN'S COUNTY MILITIA, and on reduction, to BALLICKMOYLER, Co. Laois, on the 5 December 1805.This was during the period of the Seton unrest, and the relevant Grand Lodge Minute Book is one that had been removed from Grand Lodge by Seton, and is still missing. How and Ever our Grand Lodge records - Second series Vol. 3 of the G.L. Register shows: To Queens County Militia and Ballickmoyler, no indication however that a new Warrant was issued.
The Brethren of Portlaoise may be interested to learn that in our Grand Lodge archives under the section on the Crossle scrapbooks and illustrations will be found on the back of sheet number 43 -
Hand tinted photograph of a leather masonic apron elaborately hand painted, donated along with the three demits of Bro. Edward Gilborne of 398 Ballickmoyler dated 1808.
Reverse of page No. 44
Hand tinted photograph of a Craft certificate issued to Bro. Edward Gilborne by Lodge No. 398, Queen's County Militia.
Reverse of page No 46
Black and white photo of an Knight Templar Certificate issued to Bro. Edward Gilborne by Lodge No. 398, 1808.
Reverse of Page No 47
Copy of a triple certificate Knight Templar, Royal Arch and Craft issued to Bro. Patrick Levins by Lodge No. 398, Ballickmoyler, 1809.
Lodge No. 398
No page number
Printed Royal Arch Demit - blank, Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Super-excellent Masons under sanction of Lodge No. 398, Ballickmoyler, dating to the 1820s. 398 and Ballickmoyler have been crossed out and No. 10, Collon, written in.
Unusual Frame for Great Priory Certificate
No page number
Knights Templar Demit - printed but blank - under sanction of Lodge No. 398, Ballickmoyler, dates to 1820s.
Crossle Vol. 6.p. 467.
John Boardman Esq., Treasurer to M.F.O.S.
In 1808 Bro. Captain Grace of this lodge subscribed the sum of £1. 2s. 9d. [£1.13½] to the funds.
2 August, 1810 – Read a Memorial from Brs. Wm. Dowling, 155, Jas. Kelly and Henry Landrith of 660 praying leave to remove Warrant 398 from Ballichmoyler to Mountrath. Granted. A revised Warrant was issued in the names of William Dowling Master, James Kelly and Henry Landrith Wardens was issued on the 6th December 1810 to hold a lodge in MOUNTRATH Queen's County the Lodge appears to have been transferred from a military one to a civil Warrant without charge. A further 37 members registered in the Grand Lodge Register from 1810 to 1821. Sadly this Lodge lost members due to illness, emigration and to the general downturn of membership, as a result of the loss of a large number of our Catholic Brethren, as the Papal Bulls against Freemasonry were finally being rigorously applied by the Church.
The Minutes of Grand Lodge from the 5th August, 1847 – Read an application from Bros. Thos. Turpin, Arthur Moore Mosse and Charles Mosse for a new Warrant to hold a Lodge in Marybro’, Queens County. Ordered That a Warrant be granted to Memorialists.
The 1847 Warrant still in use today
(B) Reissued to the Brethren in MARYBOROUGH, Queen's County, 9 August 1847. The foundation officers were :- Thomas Turpin. Master ;William. Clarke senior Warden; Charles. Mosse Junior Warden.
RAC Warrant for Maryborough
1. 27 Feb. 1847 – Letter about a R.A. Warrant [D.G.S. note “Sent R.A. Warrant March 14/48]
Pack 2 Royal Arch
12. 20 Nov. 1847 – Manuscript Memorial for a R.. Warrant signed by ten Companions from various Chapters – Shows seal of R.A.C. No. 611 – Note by D.G.S. Franted Feb. sent 1 March, 1848.
13. 14 April, 1854 – 22 Oct. 1878 Ten general letters and returns.
14. 24 Oct, 1877 – Printed form of Memorial for a restoration of the Chapter – signed by ten Companions from various Chapters – Note by D.G.S. Suspended 1871 rest. 1875 R.A. owes £2. 2s. 0d. fines for non returns.
15. 25 Oct. 1878 – 16 Dec. 1879 Three general letters.
Like many other Warrants at the time Lodge 398 had fallen in arrears and their Warrant was “Suspended, December, 1871”
From the Minutes of the G.L. Board of G.P.
Lodge 139, 221, 398 and 683
4 December, 1871 – The following Lodges being considerably in arrears as to Returns and payments to Grand Lodge, namely No. 139 Mountmellick, 221 Isle of Man, 398 Maryborough and 683 Ballykeel.
The Board recommend the suspension of these Warrants, but that Br. Jas. Henderson of Lodge 683 who has shown great zeal in endeavouring to keep the Lodge in proper working order be exempted from the suspension.
From the Minutes of the G.L. Board of G.P.
1 November, 1875 – Read a Memorial from Bro. Thos. Teupie of Maryborough and several others praying for the removal of the Suspension of Lodge 398. £1, the balance due by the Lodge at the time of its Suspension enclosed. The Memorial recommended by all the Lodges in the locality and also be the Earl of Huntington, P.G.M.
The Board recommend the removal of the Suspension of Lodge 398.
G.L.M. 4 November, 1875 – Confirmed. The Maryborough Warrant was fully restored in December 1875.
There is no entry for the 1914-18 War. The Lodge continued to grow and consolidate in the town of Portlaoise over the past hundred years, and during this time it acquired its own premises including a ground floor shop unit, which was rented out and the income arising was used to support the Lodge and upkeep of the Hall generally. One omission over this period was the change in name to Portlaiose from the original Maryborough name.
One of the three Past Master’s Boards in the Hall
Interesting article from the Leinster Express
The Master’s Throne
One of the Wall decals on the Eastern Wall
View of the Western side of the Hall
The Lodge Working Tools
The original Volume of the Sacred Law
The Three Steps of Irish Craft Masonry