Happy St Patrick's Day & a Glimpse at Irish Freemasonry

From WBro Damien of Lodge Devotion


Lodge St Patrick Number 295’s 250th Anniversary Jewel.

Lodge St Patrick Number 295’s 250th Anniversary Jewel.

Grand Lodge Ireland is the Second Oldest in the world.


The Premier Grand Lodge of England (now UGLE) was founded on the feast of St. John the Baptist 24 June 1717.


The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the second most oldest and the oldest in continuous existence. No specific record of its foundation exists but 1725 is the year celebrated for its foundation as the oldest reference to GLI comes from the Dublin Weekly Journal of 26 June 1725 – two days after St. John the Baptist 24 June feast day.


The Grand Lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland was founded in 1736

The Irish Freemasons were strong in the state of Victoria, and members from Grand Lodges Ireland, Scotland and England all came together to form the United Grand Lodge Victorian in 1889. An earlier Grand Lodge Victoria (1883) folded into UGLV but had comprised Irish and Scottish Lodges. Hence the Irish had a role in the formation of both of Victoria’s Grand Lodges. In Lodges with a strong Irish heritage, St Patricks Day on the March 17 is often a big deal and celebrated both formally and/or informally.

Ireland had “The Troubles” (c 1968 – 1998) seeded in the Norman invasion with Henry II being the first English King to set foot on Irish soil (1171) and the later the Tudor (1550’s, Henry VIII) and the Cromwellian invasion (1649). Historical conflict in Ireland is often conceived as a struggle between Protestant and Catholic – and religion is a good prism in the post Reformation world to examine Irish History. But it’s also simplistic. Wolfe Tone (1763-1798), father of modern Irish Republicanism and an early advocate of Catholic emancipation was Protestant. The historian knows these conflicts were more about the history of identity, “race”, economics, conquest, invasion, and then repression, as they were about religion which was later used to polarize. Roddy Doyle’s novel “The Commitments”, made into a movie with the same title in 1991, has that famous line “The Irish are the blacks of Europe”; perhaps an apt description about repression based on racism and consequent disadvantage experienced by Irish Catholics. “No Irish”, “Catholics Need Not Apply” stood in the way of many people in the societies Europe, the US and here.

Freemasonry is sometimes mistakenly seen as an anti-catholic organisation, but we know we don’t talk about religion or politics in lodge – and they, with economics, tribalism, and imperialism are core to “The Troubles”. We also know organisations ebb and flow, and while we have rightly have lofty ideals and values, they have not always been practised by all our members, but also that Freemasonry should, and does, accept any man of good character with a belief in a Supreme Being. Sectarianism drove some Freemasons in 1795 to participate in establishing the Loyal Orange Order – because that orders’ focus on Protestantism would have been unacceptable in Lodges themselves. It is often described as the “Protestant Masonic Orange Order” which confused some to think it is part of Freemasonry, but while it adopted and adapted many of the symbols and mechanisms of the Craft, most obviously the word “Lodge”, and the Square And Compass, however the Orange Order stands outside Freemasonry. Even if many gave the Orange Order a friendly nod, it’s specific values must to stand outside Freemasonry because of its religious nature and I could suggest also because of the nature of its

Above, Square and Compass with Shamrock

Above, Square and Compass with Shamrock