History of Freemasonry in Limerick

 Welcome to the City State of Limerick, one of the oldest cities in Ireland, tracing its earliest claimed records from the time of Ptolemy, when it was known as “Regia”. By now, most of you will know that the city is situated on the banks of the Shannon, capital of the county of Limerick, and a part of the Province of Munster. The Annals of Multifernan record that the city was know as “Rosse-de-Nailleagh” which changed to “Lumneach” by the early part of the Christian Era.
 St Patrick was reputed to have visited the area in the 5th  Century, but our first authenticated historical references come from the “Otsmen” in the ninth century, when the Danes carried out their first raid in 812AD. By the middle of the ninth century the Danes had made it one of their principal maritime bases, surrounding it with walls and towers, which enclosed the area now known as “English Town”. The Danes maintained their presence for a further one hundred years before the great Irish leader Brien Boroimhe, captured the city, and expelling the Danes from the surrounding countryside. However the citizens were permitted to continue in the city, making their own laws on the proviso that they paid an annual tribute of 365 casks of wine ( each holding approx 32 gallons ) to the High King.
The city was to endure many further adventures until the reign of Prince John, who is credited with the building of an”Egregium Castellum” and the Building of a bridge in Limerick”. This is the same castle, that some of us will have visited earlier in the day. Historian’s today doubt that any part of the existing structure is as early as 1185, the year when Prince John visited the city. However the Irish Annals do talk of the presence of a bawn in the city in the year 1200 and of a castle two years later. Clearly the Castle was built around this period as surviving manuscript accounts from 1216 show that this new building was in need of repair.

 The castle itself stands within the city, forming part of its extensive walled defences, commanding the approaches from Thomond. Close by it, to the north, stood Thomond Gate, at the city end of the bridge of the same name, spanning the largest river in Ireland. The castle is in fact five sided, but appears nearly square on plan, with its longest wall on the western side, running parallel to the river, between two towers. These towers were originally taller, but in the seventeenth century, they were reduced in height to accommodate heavy artillery. This castle is particularly notable, as it is one of only three surviving thirteenth century castles ( Dublin & Kilkenny ) which was designed without a keep. Like the other two surviving castles, it has been subjected to many alterations and redesigns over the years, culminating in the erection of a major barracks within the walls in the eighteenth century.

One interesting story still to be told is the role played by the stonemasons craft in the development of the buildings in and around the city of Limerick. The city museum has a collection of interesting artefacts associated with the Operative stonemasons Craft including working and dress examples of the aprons of the Operative Craft, examples of various working tools, such as Presentation levels etc and of course an interesting collection of old muniment books, containing some of the records of the Craft in the area. So, until, more research is completed, all I can suggest is that you visit St John’s Castle and then go down the road to St Mary’s Cathedral, then you will be able to compare the works of an Irish Mason ( in the Cathedral ) with that of an English Mason  ( in the Castle ). 

One of the oldest surviving Masonic artefacts in Ireland is the Baal’s Bridge Square, recovered in 1830, by Bro James Pain, Provincial Grand Architect, whilst his men were removing the remaining foundations of the old Baal’s Bridge in Limerick. The Square was in fact dug out of the eastern corner of the foundation of the northern land pier on the Kings Island or English Town side of the river Shannon, where the abutment of the 1850 bridge now stand. The date engraved on the Square 1507 is accompanied by the following wording – “ I  will strive to live with love & care, upon the level, by the square “.  
The late Bro Henry F Berry, Founder Master of the Irish Lodge of Research published a detailed paper on “The Marencourt Cup and Ancient Square preserved in the Union Lodge No 13, Limerick”, which was read before the Brethren of Ars Quatuor Coronati and subsequently published in volume 18 of their transactions in 1905. It is only fitting that we, in the Lodge of Research recall the excellent work carried out by our Founding Master, who in his day job was the Assistant Keeper of Public Records, based in the old Record Tower in Dublin Castle. He carefully records the history of the old Baal’s Bridge, a four arched structure with houses along one side. Its survival is a tantalising glimpse of the workings of Masonry some five hundred years ago, and the Square is still carefully preserved by the Brethren of Limerick right up to the present day.

 Now we shall briefly consider one of the most colourful periods in the history of Limerick. I refer to the 1690 period when Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, led the defence of Limerick and over two sieges in 1690 and 1691 fought King William and his Dutch general Ginkel to a standstill. Sarsfield’s greatest claim to fame was a bold night attack during the first Limerick siege when he led a force of cavalry out of the city, crossed the Shannon and rode through the Tipperary mountains to ambush William’s siege train, which was on its way from Dublin complete with siege cannons and supplies of ammunition and food. This successful attack by Sarsfield, at the village of Ballyneety destroyed all Williams hopes for an early end to the siege and his
troops were forced to withdraw from the city in 1690.
During the second siege in August & September 1691, Sarsfield was able to negotiate a generous treaty, known as “The Articles of Limerick” by which he was granted permission to take his entire army of some 12000 troops to France. This he duly did from the harbour at Cork on the 22nd December 1691. It is interesting to note that it was during this second siege in Limerick that the figure of Hibernia was first introduced onto the Irish coinage of the day to be representative of Ireland. The figure was shown holding what appears to be a shamrock. These coins came to be known as “Hibernias” and nearly all surviving examples have the “N” in Hibernia reversed. 

 The written records of the Grand Lodge of Ireland dates from 1725 and some seven years later the Brethren of Limerick regularised their existing situation by taking out Warrant No 13 from the new Grand Lodge in Dublin. This Lodge, working under Warrant No 13 came to be known as Antient Union Lodge No 13, and has continued to work right up to the present day. Its record of service is second to none, and thanks to the researches of Rt Wor Bro Chetwode Crawley LLD, we know that in 1735 this Lodge was accustomed to meet on the first Monday of every month in the house of Mr Samuel Barrington.

We also learn from “Ferrar’s interesting book – “The Limerick Directory of 1769” that the Members of Lodge 13 were accustomed to meet on the first Monday in every month at the  house of Bro Alexander Frasier in Barrack Street. In 1769, Bro John Stephens was recorded by Ferrar, as Master, Bro James Armstrong, S.W. and Bro Joseph Keen was the Junior Warden.

In 1769 Limerick was still a walled city, and occupied a much smaller space than the present city.  The expansion to the modern part of the City was commencing about that time, but all the meeting places mentioned were within the city walls.  With 6 Lodges working the Craft was evidently in a flourishing condition at the time. Ferrar was a printer and. bookseller, the founder of the “Limerick Chronicle” now the oldest newspaper in the twenty-six counties, and the author of a well known History of Limerick.  It would be reasonable to assume he was a Mason, possibly a member of Lodge 9 for which he gives a larger list of Officers than the others.  His successor in the ownership of the “Limerick Chronicle” Andrew Watson was a Mason.

The Kings Head Tavern was a well known inn, situated not far from St. Mary’s  Cathedral.  Lodge 13 used to meet there near the close of the eighteenth century. Lodge 36 meet in one of the old houses on the old Baal’s Bridge demolished about 1820.  During the demolition the old Square now in the possession of Lodge 13 was found.

Warrant No 36 was issued on the 19th November 1734 to Bros John Boyce, John Cherry and Oliver Pritty to hold a Lodge in LIMERICK, Co. Limerick. On the 8th April 1754, Faulkner’s Dublin Journal carried the following report – “ On Thursday last [4th] the Members of No. 36 Lodge, met at their Lodge Room, at Mr. Graver’s, where they were visited by the Right Worshipful and Honourable Thomas Southwell, Esq. Grand Master of all Ireland.  The proper Compliments due to his high Rank and personal Merit were paid him, a Splendid Entertainment was provided on the Occasion, many loyal and Mason Toasts were drank; the whole was conducted with the greatest Decency, Regularity and Harmony, attended with Ringing of Bells, Musick, Kettle Drums, Illuminations and Bonfires; and they parted in that Amity, Friendship, and Brotherly Love, which has ever subsisted amongst that Antient Society”.

Ferrer’s directory records that the Lodge met on the first Wednesday in every month at the house of George Bell located on the old Baal’s Bridge itself. In 1769 Ferrer records Bro Timothy Ryan Master; Bro Edmond Vokes S.W; and Bro Thomas Harrison J.W. The surviving records of this Warrant are very scant, but we do know that the Grand Lodge Minutes for 5th July 1781 record the receipt of correspondence from the Masonic Brethren of Lodge 542 attached to the 36th Foot informing Grand Lodge that some of the members of the Lodge had purchased Warrant No 36 from a woman on the streets of Limerick, and were now seeking Grand Lodge approval to exchange No 36. for their current number. Grand Lodge gave its approval to our military  Brethren for them to work under Warrant No 36, provided that they returned their old number 542 to the Grand Lodge.

Subsequently a part of the 36th Foot were ordered out to Barbados taking the Lodge Warrant and equipment with them. However as a large contingent of the Lodge Brethren were still located at Spike Island, Grand Lodge took the unusual step on the 6th January 1831 in issuing a temporary Dispensation Warrant to these Brethren empowering them to hold meetings under this document until such time as they joined the rest of the regiment. After many further adventures this regimental Warrant was finally cancelled by Grand Lodge on the 2nd December 1858.

Warrant No 116 was issued to Limerick on the 18th March 1740. However
the Lodge was to have a short reign, as after a number of years with no communication, Grand Lodge finally cancelled this Warrant on the 1st  August 1771. Interestingly, Ferrar is one of the few sources where we can learn a little on the people involved in this Lodge. From his 1769 Directory, we learn that the Lodge met on the first Thursday in every month at the house of Richard Dillon near the Market House in Limerick. We also learn that Bro William Martin was Master; Bro Jeremiah Hayes was S.W: and Bro William Wallace was  J.W.                  

On the 2nd December 1747 Warrant No 174 was issued to a group of Limerick Brethren who formed the Boyne Lodge. After some fifty years of labour within the city, this Warrant was then removed to the 69th Foot on the 29th August 1791. However,  as a  result of  the many campaigns and the loss
of many soldier Brethren, Grand Lodge were  moved to  cancel  the  Warrant on the 5th July 1821.

Similarly Warrant No 236 was issued to a group of Limerick Brethren on the 3rd August 1753. Some twenty years later this Warrant was also transferred to the 53rd Foot on the 1st  April 1773. Some forty years later, after much foreign service the Warrant was finally cancelled by Grand Lodge on the 6th July 1815.

On the 24th June 1755, Warrant No 9 was issued to Bros John Brinnen WM; John Nash and John Maunsell Wardens, An interesting record of one of their early Church services is found in Sleater’s Public Gazetteer for 30th December 1758 – 2nd January 1759, where we read –

Limerick, Dec. 28th, 1758.  Yesterday the Gentlemen of No. 9 Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, walked in Procession to St. John’s Church, where an excellent Sermon suitable to the occasion was preached by the Revd. Mr. Huleatt.  They made a very handsome appearance, and had an elegant entertainment provided at Mr. Graves’s where they spent the evening with the usual Harmony. They were accompanied to Church by the several other Lodges of this City.

According the Ferrer’s Gazette this Lodge met on the 24th of every month at the King’s Head Tavern. In 1769 its Master was Bro George Davis; Senior Warden Bro William Hartney; Junior Warden Bro Samuel Johns; Treasurer Bro Joseph Johns; Secretary Bro John Crone and Chaplin Bro Rev. George Roche,  Old records in Limerick tell us that Bro George Davis was a Merchant and resided at Georges Quay, probably in one of the old houses that collapsed many years ago. William Hartney was a woolen draper in Main Street Samuel Johns was an Attorney in Main Street and brother to Joseph Johns a silversmith also in Main Street.  Joseph Johns was a very famous craftsman in silverware and some pieces of his work bearing his Hall Mark are still in existence and command a very high price in the Antique market. Rev. George Roche was a curate in St. Mary’s Cathedral.

4 Jan. 1794 – “In consequence of Information received by the Members of Lodge No. 13 (many of whom had been members of No. 9 until that Warrant had become dormant) that John O’Brien a Member of No. 13 In whose custody the Warrant No. 9 happened to be left by Chance had disposed of it without consulting any of the members belonging to it and had himself Installed a Master and proceeded to work the Body of No. 13.

Lodge 9 continued to be worked, as above by some Brethren in Limerick, until Grand Lodge cancelled it on the 1st August 1771. However the Limerick Brethren had Warrant No 9 restored on the 6th February 1794 and continued to work for a further twenty years until it was finally cancelled by Grand Lodge on the 7th August 1817.

And finally Warrant 271, the founders of the current Eden Lodge No 73 came into being on the 13th July 1756, when the Warrant was issued to Bros Richard Speer, H.Holland, Michael Dobs, Robert Cave, Pat Canty and Thomas Goowin to hold a Lodge in Limerick. Examples of the old Lodge seals used by this Lodge are shown on the front cover of this paper illustrating their Craft, Royal Arch and Red Cross workings. We will learn some more on the history of this Lodge, as this paper unfolds, but in the meantime it is sufficient to record that this Lodge changed its number on the 9th December 1843, when it exchanged No 271 for its current No 73.

It was probably in view of this enthusiasm throughout Munster that on the 18th May 1748 Bro Edward Spratt, the then Deputy Grand Secretary was instructed by the Grand Lodge meeting in committee, to prepare a list of Munster Lodges and a letter of authorisation empowering Bro John Calder, a future Deputy Grand Secretary to call with same, collect what returns and dues that he could and hand same over to Grand Treasurer on his return to Dublin.

We understand that Lodge 13 still have some of the original silver officers
Jewels used at the foundation of the Lodge in 1732. The Master’s jewel has the legend “ Ancient Union Lodge No 13 Limerick 1732” whilst those of the Senior and Junior Wardens are merely inscribed “1732. L/13.” Surely these must be amongst the earliest Irish Lodge jewels still in existence.      

Around 1794, an un-named Brother of Antient Union No 13 was moved to write a Masonic song, addressed to the Craft and set to the tune – “ See the Conquering Hero Comes”. The words are as follows :-

Behold you done up reared on high
Framed by an Architect Divine;
Whose lofty Pillars reach the sky,
Where Wisdom, Strength & Wisdom join;
To form a Building which shall stand,
In spite of Time’s destroying hand.

In it let us to work repair
While solemn silence reign’s around;
Be secrecy each Mason’s care,
Lest babbles tread on hallowed ground;
While we practice the mystic art,
T’improve the mind and cheer the heart.

Our noble Order e’er shall brave
Oppression’s scourge and envoy’s sting;
Shall feed the hungry, free the slave,
And make the widows heart to Sing;
To no persuasion e’er confined,
It deals its blessing to Mankind.       

This fine effort was published in Volumn 5 of The Sentimental & Masonic Magazine in the January edition at page 68.

A manuscript certificate still survives in the Lodge of Research archives, dated 21st June AD1813 and of Philippines Masonry 1413, which was issued by a body attached to Lodge 271 known as The Royal Congregation of Phillipi. This body, occasionally known as The Holy Order of St Paul, was only given to Knight Templars and as far as I am aware is unique to Limerick and Drogheda. The certificate reads as follows :-


“We the Archbishops of the Royal Congregation of Phillipi no 271 in the city of Limerick, on the registry of Ireland  DO certify that our well beloved Brother Sir John Shaw, passed as a Knight Templar in said Lodge and was by us installed Emperor of the Royal Order of Phillipi, he having with due honour and fortitude renounced the WORLD and all its pomps that he may know the favour of Christ’s Resurrection and his sufferings being made comfortable unto his DEATH; And as such we recommend him to all Royal Phillipians and Masons around the globe.


Given under our hands and seal of our Royal Chapter and in our Chapter Room Royal Cathedral this 21st day of June 1813 and in the year of Our Lord and of Phillipi Masonry 1413.

Signed :   Patrick Doherty Grand Scribe.
                 Edward Dowling Arch Bishop.
                Thomas Rowling  Arch Deacon.
                James Dowling Sub Deacon.
                Thomas Athy  Clearcus Junior.
                Fitzgibbon Walpole Lecture Reader.
                Daniel Kinney Door Keeper”. 

 I found it interesting that no existing Emperor of the Royal Order was a signatory to this certificate, and wonder if any of their rituals still survive in Limerick up to the present day. But that Brethren will have to be a study for some other day. However before finally leaving this topic completely I wonder if Philosophical Bellows played any part in this Degree. We do know that one Brother from Lodge 60 Ennis completed a 250 mile trip to Dublin and back, in search of this mystical piece of kit, in the year 1808, but to no avail.

Back in Limerick, surviving records shown that Lodge 13 met in a number of different locations throughout the city. In 1804 it met in the Royal
Coffee House and then moved to the Mercantile Coffee House, next it moved to the house of William Collopy, then on to Moriarty’s Hotel. Next it met in Supple’s Hotel, Thomas Street, At other times it met in rooms at 92 Georges Street, Cruises Hotel, Swinburns and then in the Northumberland Building.

On the 22nd May 1841, the Lodge met in commodious apartments in Henry Street, which were to be known as The Masonic Hall. At that time these apartments were shared with  Lodge 271, the only other Limerick Lodge meeting at the time. In December 1842 the then WM suggested that a letter go to 271 recommending that a door be opened up between both sets of apartments so that the Brethren of each Lodge would have full use of the entire premises. However this agreement does nor appear to have survived for long as the Brethren of 13 moved out in 1844 and moved to accommodation in 97 Georges Street.

It was around this time that some internal dispute took place within Lodge 271, which lead to the formation of Eden Lodge 73 on the 9th December 1843 and the subsequent cancellation of Warrant 271 on the 4th January 1844. The Nineteenth Century would not have so many new Limerick Warrants issued but we should note that the following Lodges came into existence at that time :-

Warrant No 952 was issued on the 2nd August 1804 to Limerick Brethren who founded the Rising Sun Lodge. Although this Lodge would only be existence some seventeen years, it would achieve everlasting fame in its participation with Eden Lodge No 73 in the sending of letters of thanks to Capt Louis Marencourt for his outstanding Masonic behaviour in the field of battle. The Brethren of 952 copied their letter to the Earl of Donoughmore, Grand Master of Ireland, at the time, and although no Grand Lodge records survive Marencourt was indeed released by the British and returned to France.

The original victim in this story was Capt Joseph Webb, whose schooner “The United Sisters” of Poole was captured by “Le Feret” captained by Louis Marencourt. As this action was taking place a sloop “The Three Friends” of Youghal came on the scene and was quickly captured as well. When its captain Bro James Campbell of Ancient Union No 13 came on board, he was instantly recognised by Capt Marencourt as a Brother Mason,
and his ship was returned to him. After some further negotiation Bro Marencourt also agreed to release Capt Webb on receipt of a signed undertaking to seek the release of a Bro Joseph Gantier, a French sailor then been held on a prison ship “The Crown Prince” in Chatham, and if he failed to do so within a year, Capt Webb should make his own way to France and surrender his parole to the French military. However the fortunes of war would swiftly change and Capt Marencourt was himself captured by a Capt J.C.Crawford of the British frigate Modeste and as we now know Capt Marencourt did indeed get early release.

The Brethren in Antient Union Lodge No 13 do not appear to have minuted their meeting of the 11th March 1813, when the decision was taken to commission a silver cup, to the value of  £ 100, which along with a suitable address would be forwarded on to Capt Marencourt. The cup was made by John Somers of Dublin, Warden in the Goldsmiths Company in 1813 and was duly dispatched to France, the Brethren having learned of his release. The whole matter was very carefully recorded in the Limerick Chronicle and Rt Wor Bro Furnell P.G.M. of North Munster was able to use these notices and write a retrospective minute in the Lodge books of 13 on the 24th February 1844.

Sadly in the meantime Bro Marencourt had died in North Africa and never received his cup. It was eventually returned to the Lodge in Limerick where it has been carefully preserved ever since.

On the 13th January 1846 Triune Lodge No 333 came into existence in Limerick and would be followed  on the 3rd April 1846 by Ormond Lodge No 201. On the 2nd May 1873 Excelsior Lodge No 268 came into existence and finally on the 15th February 1956 Dunboyne Lodge No 60 transferred from Ennis, Co Clare to the city of Limerick. There is however quite a lot of the Limerick story to be told before we get so up to date. Lodge 13 suffered many ups and down in its Masonic history, but was fortunate enough that its Warrant was never surrendered, suspended or cancelled. The Lodge records from 1732 to 1793 have not survived. However from 1793 onwards the records are preserved in the archives of The Grand Lodge of Ireland. Wor Bro J.A.Hayden prepared a brief history of the Lodge for its Bi-Centenary in 1932, and I intend to refer to some of the main points this afternoon.

The Lodge went through a period of two years 1808-1810, when it held no meetings. It was revived in 1810 by a Bro Francis Wheeler, who was installed Master that year. Wor Bro Wheeler got things on an even keel for a few years generally improving attendances at meetings. Sadly a second quiet period occurred between the 24th June 1816 and July 1819, when no transactions were recorded. However in July 1819 a further revival took place and the Brethren met, elected new Officers, re-establishing the said Lodge for future meetings. 

Sadly Bro Wheeler was called to The Grand Lodge Above in October 1720. His Brethren, appear to have pulled out all the stops for his funeral as noted by the Limerick Chronicle in its report of the 27th October 1720. This account is not only interesting in itself but throws much light on the ceremonial Masonic dress, insignia and working tools found in Lodge in the early part of the 19th century. The report of the funeral procession reads as follows :-

“ Order of Procession.

Tyler of 271 with Sword and Insignia.

Two Deacons with Wands.

The Band of the County Limerick Militia.

Two Wardens with truncheons.

Junior Brethren two and two.

Senior Brethren two and two.

Two Brethren carrying the Holy Bible covered with black crepe.

The Master of 271 and Past Master.

The Tyler of  Waterloo Lodge ( of the 79th Regiment )No 233 on the Registry of England.

Two Deacons bearing staves with doves covered with black crepe.

Band of the 79th Regt with drums muffled.

Two Wardens with truncheons covered in black crepe.

Visiting Brethren from the Royal Artillery two and two.

The Holy Bible borne on a crimson cushion by two Brethren with insignia.

The Master of the Lodge and Past Master.

Tyler of No 13.

Two Deacons with wands.

The Band of the City of Limerick Regiment, with muffled drums covered with black crepe.

Visiting Brethren two and two in mourning.

The Members of No 13 two and two in mourning.

The Treasurer.

The Secretary.

in rich scarlet cloaks, black crepe hatbands and with wands and crepe knots.

Senior Warden.

Junior Warden.

in rich scarlet cloaks, black crepe hatbands and white gloves.

The Royal Arch with Lodge within, borne by two Brethren and covered with crepe.

The Past Master.

The Master with rich scarlet cloak, in deep mourning.

Four women, clad in white linen.

Two Medical Gentlemen, in scarves and cypresses.

The Chaplin of Lodge 13 in full costume.

The Hearse etc., supported with Knight Templars.

Mourners etc.

and Knight Templar in black gown and full mourning bearing the Black Standard”.

Clearly Brethren this must have been a most solemn and impressive occasion. Not many Brethren today realise that Grand Lodge Laws and Constitutions, right up to the year 1850 included the order of procession and the exact form of wording to be used at Masonic funerals, as an integral part of its content. It would be many years thereafter before the tradition of a Masonic burial would finally cease.   

On the 5th December 1820 the Lodge Members of Antient Union No 13 passed a motion that the “Best thanks of this Lodge be presented, along with a gold medal to Wor Bro Christopher Marratt, Mayor of this city, for the excellent manner in which he discharged his duties as W.M. of this Lodge”. Interestingly enough it was the very next year that we find record of a solid silver snuff box amongst the possessions of the Lodge donated by an un-named benefactor.

And now on a slightly more cheerful note, as I look around this room today, I can see many here present with Masonic emblems conspicuously prominent on their breast. Had we been visiting Lodge 13 back in 1828, we too may have come under the same censure as a Bro Steele who was excluded from all Masonic honours by Grand Lodge in consequence of his having entered Lodge 13 with prominent emblems. Several of the Brethren then present had objected to this display, as totally at variance with the great fundamental principles of Masonry. A letter of protest was sent to Dublin and Grand Lodge wrote back to the Lodge Secretary notifying him that Bro Steele was to be excluded from all meetings of any of the Lodges in the district and the then Master, who permitted this show unchallenged was also suspended. The Brethren who originally  raised this matter received the thanks of the Grand Lodge. Needless to say, the Limerick Chronicle recorded same in its edition of the 19th December 1828.

Ancient Union was to endure one further quiet period between 1833 and 1840 when the Lodge only met occasionally. And it is in 1840 that we first learn of a Bro Michael Furnell, a member of 13 who found the Lodge Warrant mouldering in a coal vault. He was made Master of the Lodge in 1840, was granted a replacement Warrant by Grand Lodge and began to revive Masonry within both the Lodge and District.

Up until that period in history, Limerick was part of the overall Masonic province of Munster, under the Provincial Grand Mastership of The Earl of Shannon. On the death of His Grace in 1841 Grand Lodge decided to split the Province and band Lodges 13 & 271 Limerick together with 107 Kilrush ( Co Clare ), 49 Charlesville ( Co Cork ), 208 Nenagh ( Co Tipperary ) to form a new Masonic Province to be known as North Munster. Rt Wor Bro Michael Furnell was selected to be the first Provincial Grand Master of this new Province. Rt Wor Bro Furnell was eventually invested and went on to be a very successful Provincial Grand Master.

Over the years he would receive many accolades from his Brethren in Limerick, including the presentation of a massive silver Masonic Pillar of the Corinthian Order surmounted with a Globe. This gift, from his Brethren
In Lodge 13 was to mark his service as WM on two separate years and his new role as I.G. Later in his life the Brethren of  Eden No 73 presented a very fine illuminated address and poem marking some twenty years of service as Provincial Grand Master.

By now the Lodge rooms in Limerick were becoming quite busy. Triune Lodge No 333 was formed in January 1846 by three Members of Antient Union. Bros Samuel Dickson, William Massy and Henry Massy became foundation Master and Wardens respectively. Interestingly this Lodge initially did not carry out Initiations, as the large majority of its Members affiliated from 13. Ormond Lodge 201 was Consecrated on the 3rd April 1846, meeting that at that time there were effectively four Lodges in the city at that time.

Finally an Installed Master’s Lodge known as Excelsior was founded on
the 2nd May 1873 again from the membership of Antient Union No 13. This time the foundation officers were Alexander Stuart, George Moore and Henry Sikes. The name Excelsior was chosen for its latin root suggestive of striving “Higher Still”, a good description of the aims of any Installed Master’s Lodge.

Brethren I do not propose to say very much more about Freemasonry in Limerick, other than to record the important part played by Lord Dunboyne, better known under the family name of Fitzwalter Butler. I suspect that we may learn a little more about this Brother and his family connections and lands, before the weekend is over.