Inishowen Friends of Messines

As part of the International School for Peace Studies Messines Programme, the 'Inishowen Friends of Messines' commemorate all those who went off to World War I and never came home. On Sunday 26th June 2011 in Fort Dunree on the banks of Lough Swilly, Donegal, a memorial wall was dedicated to the 249 men and women from Inishowen who died during that terrible conflict. They were from every parish in the peninsula, with the names of those from Newtowncunningham, Carrigans and Killea also included.

The new memorial in the form of a wall has the names of 249 men and women from Inishowen who died during the Great War. The fallen included Catholics and Protestants, Freemasons Orangemen and Hibernians, Hurlers and Cricketers, Dreamers and Adventurers, and all those who joined the war because their political and church leaders of the time told them it was the right thing to do.

Sadly their sacrifice has been overlooked and forgotten for the past 90 years, and it is only since the opening of The Ireland Peace Tower at Messine that, at last these great sacrifices began to be acknowledged. During the last couple of years, we began to see memorial crosses being erected by “The Friends of Messine” in memory of all those who died from Innishowen.

               'For the Fallen'  by Laurence Binyon

Irish Freemasonry was one of the few organisations that provided a meeting place for men of all faiths and politics to meet as one. Amongst our membership were men like Aymas Griffiths, Henry Joy McCracken, Thomas Russell, Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Daniel O’Connell ( the Liberator ) , and it was only in the 1840’s when Papal Bulls were enforced, that our roman catholic Brethren were forced to withdraw from membership of the Masonic Order in Ireland. Their loss had a dramatic effect on Masonic membership throughout the Irish Constitution.   

Warrant No. 191 – Buncrana

From the “History of Harmony Lodge No. 63 by W. Bro. W.T. Dunlop, we note that on the 27th November, 1896, by command of the R.W. the P.G.M. of Derry and Donegal (Sir William Miller), Lodge No. 63 travelled to Buncrana and held an Emergency Communication for the purpose of Dedicating “Sunbeam Lodge No. 191, Buncrana.” Officers present – W.M., W. Bro. Frederick J. Simmons; S.W. Bro. James A. Roden (Acting); J.W. Bro. Berkley Vincent; Sec. Bro. James Whiteside (acting); S.D. Bro. R.J. Aiken (acting); J.D. Bro. S. Bryson (acting); and I.G. Bro. George W. Atcheson.

The Officers Installed in “Sunbeam Lodge No. 191” were:-

W.M. R.W. Bro. Maurice C. Hime

S.W. Bro. Duncan McGregor

J.W. Bro. William Bradley

Sec.  Bro. W.J. Armstrong

S.D.   Bro. Alfred G. Taylor

J.D.   Bro. Stephen Burgess

I.G.    Bro. James Bond.

Masonic Concert at Buncrana: 9th October 1906.

On Thursday night, under the auspices of Sunbeam Masonic Lodge, 191, a grand concert took place in the Masonic Hall, Buncrana, and was well patronised by the members of the fraternity and their sympathisers. The object of the concert was to raise funds in furtherance of a project in contemplation, viz., the building of a new hall, wherein the members of the Craft can meet. The initiative step in this direction, judging from the large assemblage last night, augurs well for the project.

Masonic Bazaar at Buncrana.

Opening Ceremony held on the 2nd August 1907.

On Thursday in the Masonic Hall and grounds Buncrana, a summer fete was opened under the auspices of the Sunbeam Masonic Lodge, [No. 191] and it proved one of the happiest events that has taken place by the Lake of Shadows for a considerable time. For a lengthened period those concerned made busy preparations to have everything completed satisfactorily for the opening day, and it is to their credit that they achieved this pleasing result, everything being practically perfect - an important matter in a fixture of this kind. The scheme of colouring was of course blue and white, particularly prominent in the entrance arch, the name of the fete being deftly inscribed across the top of the arch, the sides displaying the compass and square and the number of the lodge.

A reference to the lodge under whose happy auspices the event came off may be appropriately introduced. It was instituted in August, 1896, the first meeting taking place at "Cluain Fois," the private residence of Mr. C. Hime, LL.D, JP., through whose kindness the rooms were placed at the disposal of the brethren. Dr. Hime, as most are aware, occupies a prominent place in Irish Masonry, and was the first master of this lodge. The present officers are Br. Wm. Little, WM.; R.S. Park, SW.; H. Campbell, J.W., F.J. Simmons, P.M., treasurer; R. Gallagher, P.M., secretary; A. Dignam, S.D.' A. Stevenson, J.D.; H. Sheppard, I.G.; Rev. P.C. Duncan, MA., chaplain; and J. Barr, organist.

One hundred and four members served in the 1914-18 War and all are recorded as returned. Several were awarded Gallantry medals, and amongst that number were :-

Lieut Ernest R. Andrews R.N.R. awarded the DSC.

PO Arthur Garrett R.N. awarded the DSC.

Lieut John H. Goode D.C.L.I. awarded the M.C.

Lieut Gilbert  Oliver D.C.L.I. awarded the M.C.

The original Lodge Warrant destroyed in a malicious fire which destroyed the Secretary's house in 1922. As this lodges membership consisted of many members in the Royal Artillery ( who had served at Dunree Fort and other similar installations in Donegal )an advertisement was placed in the national press requesting members to contact the Lodge Secretary in order that the records could be re-established. Other Donegal Lodges in the Inishowen Pennisula area include :-

Warrant  No 196 issued to the Brethren in Culdaff, Co. Donegal on the 5th October 1848 to Brother the Revd. Richard  Hornan; Samuel  Rankin and Philip G. Horner

From the Minutes of the G.L. Board of G.P.

Lodge 196 :- 2 April, 1849 – Read an application from Lodge 196 Culdaff Co. Derry for permission to remove their meetings to Carndonagh, as more convenient to the Members.  Read also a letter from Bro. Grant, D. Prov. G.M. stating that Bro. Sir J. Stewart, P.G. Master approved of the change.  The Board recommend permission to be granted to remove. G.L.M. 5 April, 1849 – Confirmed.

Lodge 882 :-  Warrant No 882 issued 6th February, 1800 to Brothers - Samuel. Gibson, James. Moore and Robert. Ramsey to hold a Lodge in Fahan, Co. Donegal. The Lodge was  held in Church-Town, Co. Donegal in 1814 and while there worked the Royal Arch Degree as is evidenced by a Certificate in the archives of Grand Lodge

Letter dated 23 Nov. 1844 – stating “As our Number is greatly reduced in consequence of deaths and emigrating to America so that we are not able to discharge our present debts of arrears, and if you insist on us to pay the arrears we will be obliged to send you our Warrant.  We have had no new Member this Seven years past, but if you Would reduce the arrears to about one half we would strive to pay it as soon as possible. – Members as follows” – List of seven Brethren

 From Bro. James Bond, of Belfast:-

(a) Minute Book of Lodge No. 882, Fahan, Co. Donegal: brief record of proceedings from 24th June, 1834, to 24th June, 1848.

(b) White silk apron with red border, lined red silk, (French); painted with emblems of the 15th, 16th and 18th degrees of the A. & A.S. Rite.

(c) Lambskin apron with blue and red borders and three rosettes of the same colours.

(d) White silk apron with three borders, outer blue, middle black, inner red; Bible, Square and Compasses painted on apron; Gold fringe.

(Bro. James Bond, now in his 78th year, is a grandson of the James Bond mentioned in the Minute Book of No. 882, Fahan, as a visitor in the year 1845. He claims to be the only descendant now living in Ireland of any Brother who ever sat in Lodge 882.  The Minute Book came into his possession forty years ago.)

Warrant No 589 was issued to Brothers James Craig, James McDowell and James Hodges on the 3rd May 1781 to hold a Lodge in the Island of Inch, Co Donegal. Twenty-five members from the Lodge served in the 1914-18 War and Bro. Lieut. E. McClure, Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers. made the supreme sacrifice, It is interesting to note that two Brothers David and Thomas Creswell both served as lieutenants in the Royal Irish Rifles and both brothers were eventually sent home wounded, after difficult times at the front.

Warrant No. 297 was issued to Bros Thomas Wright (281); George Marne (89) and James McMullan (271) on the 4th October 1900, to hold a Lodge in Moville, Co. Donegal, to be known as “Saint Columb’s Lodge”.

They built their own Hall in Bath Road, Moville, at a cost of £500, in 1903. The ground for the building was leased from the Right Hon. Dr. Robert Montgomery (father of Field Marshal Lord Montgomery of Alamein). Many of the working tools used by the Lodge were provided by English Masons in either the Army or Navy and, who, while stationed in the area, visited this Lodge in the early 1920's. Five Brethren from the Lodge served in The Great War and all five volunteers returned safely home.

St. Columb’s No. 297 was constituted on 30th October 1900 by the P.G.L. of Londonderry & Donegal when W. Bro. Thomas Wright became its Foundation Master.  Thomas Wright was connected with the Londonderry Harbour Board and a working barge which  was used on the River Foyle was named after him-W. Bro. Isaac Wilson, a Past Master of 297 was presented with W. Bro. Wright’s gold P.M. Jewel.

The membership of the Lodge grew steadily and Emergency Communications were held regularly to clear up the backlog of degrees as 297 had many maritime initiates who had limited shore leave.  This required the Lodge to request special dispensation from G. Lodge to confer FC & MM degrees before the requisite interval had elapsed.  During the war years a number of merchant seamen were progressed under the above circumstances, indeed, a number became victims of the German U. Boat attacks on the North Atlantic convoys and never returned.

On Sunday 26th June 2011 - Councillor Dessie Larkin, chairperson of the Donegal C.D.B. Peace and Reconciliation Partnership ( the funders for the Memorial Wall ) through their Peace III funding package,  finally put right a great wrong and by acknowledging the sacrifice made by local people from Inishowen, as they played their part in The Great War of 1914-1919.



Fort Dunree and Inishowen Friends of Messines from Yolmac on Vimeo.