Friends and Brethren,
Before we start our first annual review, we would take this opportunity to wish our Most Wor Grand Master, Most Wor Bro George Dunlop a speedy recovery from his recent surgery. As he lay in the recovery room in hospital, a concerned male nurse enquired how he was keeping and brought him fraternal greetings from Culmore Lodge no 320 I.C. We can quite understand our Grand Master’s initial confusion, but all became clear as the conversation continued. Just goes to prove Brethren, that you always find a helpful Masonic face where you least expect it.
We are delighted to have your continuing support as we complete our first year of activities under the www.irishfreemasonry.com label. And what a year it has been, kicking off with my video presentation, entitled “The Gift of Irish Freemasonry” which was hosted on the www.weofm.org video section, as the second video presentation of a yearlong initiative endorsed by The Grand Lodge of Indiana. This initiative was planned to encourage Freemasons worldwide to view a new video per week, presented by some of the world’s leading Masonic researchers, for the twelve months of 2011. The project has been an outstanding success attracting a total of almost one million views over the year, 44,000 of whom watched my own Irish presentation.
This review will start with a brief insight into the origins of the site, and it all began a few years ago, as members of The Irish Masonic Lodge of Research No CC participated in various Masonic symposia and research meetings in Ireland, England, Scotland and further afield. Here we became friends with Brethren such as Neville Barker Cryer, Trevor Stewart, John Wade, John Belton, Bob Cooper, John Acaster, Yasha Beresinger, Bill Howie, and academics such as Andrew Prescott, David Stevenson and James Stevens Curl amongst many others. Many days, and nights were spent discussing matters Masonic and Wor Bro John Belton of The English Internet Lodge pointed out that there was much material on the world wide web on Freemasonry in general, but nothing at all on Irish Freemasonry specifically. So Brother John, it took some time, but we took your thoughts on board and hope that you are pleased with the outcome in respect of Irish Freemasonry.
The Irish Freemasonry site went live on the 15th January 2011 with a selection of articles, videos, gallery photographs, reviews and links. As the year progressed we introduced a blog and a calendar facility to allow Brethren to imput details of forthcoming Masonic events and anniversaries. We regularly added more articles, videos and reviews and quickly acquired a reputation for the speed and quality of our photographic updates as we recorded Masonic events throughout the Irish Constitution. We would take this opportunity to thank those many Brethren who helped us in our labours by providing content, or extended invitations to attend their Lodges, Chapters, Celebrations and other Masonic events, or who gave up their valuable time to facilitate a research visit to their Halls.
One of the most interesting experiences of the year was a chance attendance at a cross community event held in Coleraine Town Hall, where we first learned of the Messines Experience. This led us to Fort Dunree, for the Dedication of a new First World War Memorial to commemorate the fallen from Inishowen. We produced a video of the occasion and are grateful for the support of John McCarter and The Friends of Inishowen for their invitation to play a small part in subsequently recording the Remembrance Day activities at Dunree. With these connections we met a number of Brethren who had served in the military, both North and South and who could meet quite happily, and recall their youth and military adventures in the comfort of the Saldanha suite at Dunree. Here again we made interesting discoveries including the fact that Spike Milligan’s late father was a British gunner, who served at Dunree, and Spike’s letter of enquiry for information on his father’s service, is now on display, as part of a larger military collection that is exhibited at the site.
These contacts with the Friends of Messines, led us eventually to an introduction to the Donegal Museum Service, and as a result, Irish Freemasonry have been invited to participate in a forthcoming exhibition on the topic of Fraternal Orders in Ireland. The donation of a small collection of Irish Masonic pamphlets, circulars, news-sheets and Lodge of Research transactions led to a photo opportunity with the Donegal News, and an impromptu interview, which allows us to get some very positive press coverage in the Donegal area.
Bob Bashford speaks to Caroline Carr of Donegal Museum Service
Donegal News Article - CLICK HERE to enlarge
Brethren, we have greatly enjoyed the past twelve months which have been jam-packed with Masonry in all its many forms. Membership may be an ongoing problem, in some locations, but as the contents of this site amply demonstrate, Freemasonry is alive and well in the Irish Constitution. There has been much talk about the plethora of Anniversaries coming forward in the next decade, and, for us, this process begins on Saturday the 28th January 2012 at St Mura’s Church of Ireland Church on the Inishowen Pennisula in Donegal. Here will be hosted the annual Act of Remembrance for all those brave sailors who died when the HMS Laurentic struck two mines off the coast of Donegal on the 25th January 1917. Some 350 poor souls were lost, and we take this opportunity to tell the story in our articles section of the site.
Freemasons are, as you all know are “A part of Society and not Apart from Society”, which is part of the ethos here at irishfreemasonry.com. Subsequently we have the opportunity to participate in this Act of Remembrance with Services at St Mura’s graveyard at 2.30PM followed by a second service at St John’s R.C. graveyard in Buncrana at 3.30PM. The day will be brought to a close in The Laurentic Bar & Bistro located at Linsfort on the way to Fort Dunree, where there will be refreshments provided.
Brethren, this review would be incomplete if we did not record our thanks to Rt Wor Bro Barry Lyons Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of Ireland and Miss Rebecca Hayes Grand Lodge Archivist for all their help and assistance over the past twelve months. They are always at the end of a telephone and make every effort to find prompt and helpful answers to all our information enquiries.