A number of Irish Lodges will enjoy significant Lodge Anniversaries in the forthcoming year. All Lodges in fact have advanced their history by a year since last February, but some Lodges have now achieved memorable markers in their Lodge history.
In 2011 two Lodges, Dromore Lodge No 70 and St Patrick’s Union Lodge No 367 in Downpatrick will both celebrate two hundred and fifty years of service to Freemasonry in Ireland. Grand Lodge registers show that :-
Warrant No. 371 was issued to Waringsford, Dromore on the 6 August, 1761. John Beard; John Wallace and Wm. Kinghan being the first three names out of six Brethren registered 6 August, 1761. A total of 65 Brethren either transcribed from the previous volume or registered here up to 17 October 1831. Warrant No 371 was Exchanged for No. 70 by G.L. Order 2 December, 1830.
On 30th January, 1940, a letter appeared in the Belfast News-Letter, over the signature of Colin Johnstone Robb, which tells of a letter addressed to Henry Waring, Gent, Master of Masons, Downe, at Waringstown, near Lisburn, and dated 27th January, 1702. Henry Waring, by the Will of his father, became possessed of lands in the Parish of Garvaghy near Dromore, Co. Down, where he founded a family seat called Waringsford and died in 1716.
The guardians of his only son, Henry, by lease dated 6th May, 1734, granted to Matthew Rea, of Waringsford, a house and two acres of land, subject to a Lodge of Freemasons meeting there once a month. Waringsford is but a tiny hamlet, and the first Lodge warranted there was No. 371, issued in 1761 now No. 70 Dromore.
The presumption is, therefore, that the Lodge of 1734 was a "non-regular" one, possibly established by Waring himself. It is of interest to note that within a short distance of Waringsford there is a road which has from time immemorial been known as "the Craft Road."
Saint Patrick’s Union Lodge No 367 was first Constituted in 1761, and continued working until 1846, when it ceased for a time. In 1855 the Lodge was reconstituted as hereinafter detailed, and the old number given to it. The records are forthcoming from its foundation in 1765 until 1814, whilst those from 1814 till 1838 and from 1855 till 1885 are missing. These early records are rather meagre, the secretaries seeming to think they had done their duty by simply recording date of monthly meeting, and the hours of opening and closing, and it was only when some special business was transacted that a detailed minute was inserted. From these records, meagre though there may be in many respects, we can however see that the great principles of Masonry were carried out fully. In the year 1900 at the Lodge records were rebound.
The first Officers of the Lodge were:- Hugh Hill, Master; Robert Hastings, Deputy Master; William McKeevans & Robert Cole Wardens; together with a further twenty-two members.
The Lodge was first constituted in 1761, and continued working until 1846, when it ceased for a time. In 1855 the Lodge was reconstituted as hereinafter detailed, and the old number given to it. The records are forthcoming from its foundation in 1761 until 1814, whilst those from 1814 till 1838 and from 1855 till 1885 are missing. These early records are rather meagre, the secretaries seeming to think they had done their duty by simply recording date of monthly meeting, and the hours of opening and closing, and it was only when some special business was transacted that a detailed minute was inserted. From these records, meagre though there may be in many respects, we can however see that the great principles of Masonry were carried out fully. In the year 1900 at the Lodge records were rebound.
This Lodge had a prominent personage, and a `foreigner' for its first master. Hugh Hill, Esq., was a son of Rowly Hill, of Derry, a member of the Lodge that met at the "Ship behind the Royal Exchange", who was present as Warden at the Lodge held at the "Yellow Lyon in Warborough's Street", Dublin, 6th March 1730/31, which was also attended by the Earl of Ross, G.M. of Ireland, Lord Kingston, late G.M. of England, and other Brethren prominent in the Craft in the Irish capital. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and in 1754 entered at Middle Temple, but shortly afterwards came to Downpatrick as Collector of Customs for the Strangford District. Later he entered the Irish Parliament as Member for Derry City, remaining its representative till his death; he had been created a Baronet in 1768.
At any rate, whatever its ancestry, the Lodge was successfully launched under the rule of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and pursued a career of varying success until the year 1845. The Lodge had fallen into arrears of dues, and Grand Lodge, after patiently waiting for a time, at last withdrew the Warrant.
The early records of No. 367, Downpatrick, record the gift of “The Poles, Truncheons to the Fraternity grattis by Bro. Thomas Marten for which we Return Thanks.” Valued at 11s. 4½d. The same Lodge, in December, 1796, paid 9s. 9d. for the repares of Juels and painting rodes and tronchens.”
And referring to uniforms.
It might be stated here that references to uniforms and cloaks are not generally mentioned until the later part of the eighteenth century. The Master of Union Lodge, No. 367, Downpatrick, was, says Bro. R.E. Parkinson, “in 1790 arrayed in a scarlet cloak and tall hat.” The records go on to state that one Peter Hodges was initiated, and in lieu of fees we find against his name, “By stuff for the cloak 17/-.” Nor was it a mere plain cloak, for in the same year the Lodge paid for “Armon” (ermine), but it is feared that for the price paid a more basely born animal supplied the fur. A further reference relating to the same Lodge says that on “16th December 1790. Paid for making the cloak 3/3 .”
And referring to the Pall.
Another record of a Lodge owning a Pall is found in Masonry in Downpatrick, by Edward Parkinson. Lodge No. 367 was also the owner of a Pall purchased on 24th September, 1781, to be loaned at 2s. 81/2d., except to a member of the Lodge. At the same time the Lodge
2 Bazel skins 4s. 10½
Making a bag 6½
These skins were used in the making of a bag for the Pall when not in use. The probable cost of a Pall was £6 10s. 0d.
A further two Irish Lodges celebrate two hundred and twenty five years of service each, this year. They include Union True Blues Lodge No 659 Arthur Square, Belfast and Mountmellick Lodge No 660.
Extract of a Letter from Saintfield; 25th June, 1795:-
The Freemasons Lodges, consisting of Crossgare, Near Downpatrick, No. 343; Lisnod, No. 659; and Saintfield, No. 425; and constituted of different religious persuasions, walked yesterday in our town, made a most respectable appearance, and spent the day in the greatest harmony. They attended public worship, where a sermon was preached to them from 1 Peter, 2 chap., middle clause of the 17th verse, by the Rev. Thomas Leslie Birch. As the concluding address appeared to make a sensible impression upon the numerous audience, perhaps it may not be unacceptable to many of your readers.
"My much respected friends and Brethren of the honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, who have favoured me with your attendance this day, whatsoever the foolish, the ignorant, and superstitions may think, the design of your institution was, and is, the happiness of mankind, by uniting them into one family, a brotherhood - WE read of a King of France, Henry the Fourth, of worthy memory, that he formed the benevolent plan of having a Congress, consisting of delegates from the different States of Europe, to act as arbitrators in settling disputes between the several nations, and so put an end to the havoc and desolation's of war. And, if the spirit of "goodwill to mankind", which dwells in your societies, had inspired the breasts of the other Sovereigns, the heavenly project would have been put into execution! Let then the fomenters of quarrels amongst mankind practise their hellish arts of dividing the people into parties, and leading on the brother to meet his brother in blood, under a religious pretence, and afterwards rob all parties! Let such butchers and scourges of the human race go on and Kill their thousands, and tens of thousands, talk of the glory of their achievements, and revel upon the spoils of thousands they have made fatherless, widows, and childless! until the judgement of an Almighty God shall come down upon those monsters, and cause them who thus use the sword to perish by the sword! But, let it be your duty, my brethren, through the Grace of God, in imitation of your Divine Master, to cultivate peace, to unite the virtuous of every profession into one brotherhood, to protect and support the widow and fatherless, to supply the needy, and thus help forward the Empire of peace, which seemingly, according to scripture prophecy, is now about to be established. When wars shall cease, and swords shall be beat into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not loft sword against Nation, neither shall they learn war any more! So that mankind, being become a family here upon earth, fitted and qualified, may be removed to and united with, the Great Family in Heaven - where the wicked will cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest - where the Holy and Religious, of every denomination, will be united in friendship and love - and where, though thousands will be the voices, and tens of thousands will be the tongues, there will not be one jarring note, but all join harmoniously in celebrating that hymn which is always new to Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever
Lodge No. 660
14 December, 1786 – Read a Petition of Brs. Andrew. England, William. Donerell and Robt. Mathews, praying for a Warrant to hold a Lodge in Mountmellick in Queens County [Co. Leix].
New Masonic Hall, Mountmellick:-The Brethren of Lodges 660 and 139 have just erected a Hall &c. for the purpose of their Order, in the town of Mountmellick, Queen's County. The dimensions of the Hall are 42ft long by 18ft. wide, with a height of 12ft 9ins to top of cornice, from which springs a curved ceiling with sunlight in centre. The ceiling is painted a light shade of blue, and closely studded with Masonic stars. The walls are divided into a series of five panels, enriched with bold lines and emblematical corners. A dado in timber, with grooved panels runs round the entire walling, and is surmounted by a Tuscan border. The margins all round of floor and platform are stained oak and varnished. The cornice is picked out in gold and colours, and is very effective. It is intended that the ceremony of dedication shall take place on Tuesday next and will be performed by the Marquis of Huntingdon. The contractor for the building work was Mr. Mackey and the decoration was entrusted to Messrs Sibthorpe and Son, of Cork Hill, Dublin, by whom, we need hardly say, the work was carried out to the entire satisfaction of the Committee.
The furniture was supplied by a Maryborough trader.
The following four Lodges are celebration their Bi-Centenary this year –St John’s Lodge No 88 Derriaghy, Ardglass Lodge No 172, St James Lodge No 186 Mealough, and Bangor Union Lodge No 746, Co Down .
St. John's Masonic Lodge 88 has long been looked upon by all Northern Masons as a Lodge from every point of view occupying, we had almost said the highest, but at least one of the highest positions in the North of Ireland. In point of almost patriarchal old age (for while its present Warrant dates back to the year 1811 we understand even this was a second issue of the Warrant, and that the original one dates so far back as the year 1738, but to whom issued it is impossible to ascertain) it is, we think, the oldest Lodge in the province, being almost hoary with antiquity. In point of numbers, it is always kept up to a high standard, the natural changes of membership time beings about and more regretful vacancies caused by members being called to "the Grand Lodge above" being filled up by new members who endeavour to emulate the grand old Masters of the past and so keep up the old "Connaught Rangers" (as its members affectionately call it, owing to its number, 88, corresponding with the famous Irish regiment) to the high standard it has always borne. So, too, has the Lodge adopted as its own the old motto of the "Connaught Rangers" and Quis Separabit? (Who shall separate us?) truly expresses the feeling of its members to grand old "88." Again, in friendly comparison with its sister Lodges in the Province of Antrim, in point of its contributions to Masonic charity, "the Grand Corner Stone of our Order," it stands pre-eminent. If we take the Belfast Masonic Widows' Fund, the premier local charity, we find the total subscriptions of Lodge 88, since the formation of this charity, to the end of 1901, exceeded those of any other Antrim Lodge by £28; its annual subscriptions also have been as a rule the highest, and we understand from the two enthusiastic brethren who represent "88" at the Board of the Widows' Fund (Brothers Wilson and Hogg) that this year's subscription list is likely to be a record one, so that old age has not impaired the vitality of "88," and instead of senile decay setting in with its advance of years, the members are not disposed to rest content with its past glorious history in the domain of charity, but are determined to even leave the deeds of their forefathers in this matter in the shade. Again, if we take the Belfast Masonic Charity Fund, which was formed for the purpose of giving temporary relief to distressed and unfortunate brethren, we find that since this charity was inaugurated the total contributed by Lodge 88 up to the end of 1901 exceeds that of any other Antrim Lodge by £48. Again we find, when in the year 1884 the Province of Antrim made such a splendid effort, by means of a Bazaar, to increase the funds of the two most deserving charities we have already named, Lodge 88 raised nearly £400 itself, being only £10 behind the highest Lodge, and indeed it may be incidentally remarked the members only ceased their efforts when they believed they were at the head of the subscription list and were greatly disappointed when they found another Lodge had in friendly rivalry beaten them by a trifling amount.
Opening of a new Masonic Hall at Ardglass Lodge 172 Ardglass.
On Monday evening, the members of Masonic Lodge No. 172, assembled for the purpose of inaugurating their new Lodge-rooms, in Ardglass. The rooms are situated a short distance above the Parish Church, and are both comfortable and commodious, and also well-suited for the purposes of the Lodge. They have been fitted up with great taste, and are applied with all the requisite Masonic furniture, which, we understand, was manufactured by Bro. James Jordan, P.M., Downpatrick.
The Lodge was opened in ancient form, Bro. George H. Whiteside, P.M., took the chair, and congratulated the Brethren on having secured such a tasteful lodge-room. Subsequently, Bro. John Patterson was installed as Worshipful Master, Bros. James E. Martin, P.M., and Dr. S.S. Stephenson being elevated at the same time to the Senior and Junior Warden's chairs. The ordinary business having been disposed of, the members of the Lodge, with a number of visiting Brethren from Downpatrick, sat down to an excellent supper, which was served in one of the large houses opposite Ardglass Castle. Bro. Patterson occupied the chair, and, having given the usual loyal and Masonic toasts, proposed "The health of Bro. Col. Forde, P.G.M., and the members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Down," to which Bro. William Whiteside, P.M., responded. "The health of the Past Masters of the lodge" was next given, and responded to by Bros. Joseph Munce, John Munce, John Atkinson, and James E. Martin, the oldest member of the lodge present. The Worshipful Master next proposed "The health of the visiting brethren," which was acknowledged in appropriate terms by Bros. John R. McConnell, P.M., James Jordan, P.M., Dr. W. Taylor and T.B. Hardman, P.M. "Masonry all over the globe" was responded to by Bro. Joseph S. Clarke, P.M. The health's of Bro. the Rev. James O'Flaherty, P.M., and Bro. G.H. Whiteside, P.M., were also cordially drunk. Bro. John Fleming, P.M., responded for "Our poorer brethren," and some excellent songs having been sung by Bros. Hardman Stephenson, Cotter, and Austin, the agreeable proceedings of the evening were brought to a close in peace, love, and harmony.
Down Recorder 8 December, 1877.
Mealough Masonic Lodge No. 186. :-The first annual supper and ball in connection with the Mealough Masonic Lodge No. 186, was held in the Masonic Hall on Wednesday night - Mr. Wm. Gibson, JP., in the chair, when about 150 sat down to supper, creditably catered for by Messrs Inglis & Co. Dancing was kept up until about five o'clock in the morning to music supplied with their usual good taste by Messrs M'Cormick and M'Cullough, and the songs occasionally rendered by members of the company were much appreciated. Messrs S. Calvert and W. Wallace responding to encores. The committee were Messrs Dobbin, Garrett, Robinson, and Dick. Tea and coffee was provided throughout the evening by the following ladies:- Mesdames Wallace and Wright and the Misses White, McCarriston, Lecky, Whiteside, Corkin, and Sturgeon.
BNL 27 February, 1904.
Lodge 746 - 3 October, 1811 – Read a Memorial from Bros Moses Jamison, John White and Geo. Lunn praying a Duplicate of 746 to hold a Lodge in Bangor, free of expense, they having paid Mr. Seton. Deferred they are to send up a clear statement of how and to whom the money was paid and any documents they hold.
7 November, 1811 – Read the Memorial of the Master and Wardens of 746 Bangor, deferred from last meeting. Warrant granted the old one to be sent up.
Sphinx Lodge 107 Sri Lanka and Gilford Lodge No 145 both celebrate their one hundred and fiftieth anniversary this year.
Eight Lodges celebrate their Centenary this year including Emerald Lodge No 49 Greystones; James Chambers Lodge No 318 Crumlin Road, Belfast; St Patrick’s Lodge No 319 Mumbai, India; Lodge of St John No 330 Ballymoney; Fitzgibbon Lodge No 331 Dublin; Groomsport Lodge No 337; Ruby Lodge Dublin. Corinthian Lodge No 340 Arthur Square makes up the balance of Centenary Lodges this year.
Amongst our younger Warrants, only one Lodge – Malcolm McDonald Memorial at The Mount in Belfast celebrates seventy five years service to the Craft.
We have three Lodges celebrating their fiftieth anniversaries this year including King David Lodge No 820 Arthur Square; Breda Lodge No 821 at Moneyreagh; and Lodge No 990 Kells Co Antrim. Two other Lodges in Zimbabwe – Gazaland Lodge No 817 and Killarney Lodge No 818 are both currently in Recess. I’m sure that you all will keep these two young Lodges in mind throughout the year, as we hope for peace love and harmony to come along to the people in this troubled country.
Finally we have three Lodges – Temperance Lodge No 892 Nigeria; Friendship and Harmony Lodge No 894 Bermuda and Fergus Lodge No 900 Carrickfergus all celebrating thir 25th anniversary this year.
Brethren, once again, I’m sure that you will all join with me in congratulating all of these Lodges in their achievement of these long and illustrious histories and wish them continued growth, success and prosperity in the years ahead. As this year progresses, I hope to provide further detail on the history of some of these Lodges for your further information and enlightenment.