At the kind invitation of Right Worshipful Master Thomas McGregor, I packed my bags and headed off across the foam to Scotia Minor.I took an early morning flight across to Edinburgh and spent some time strolling around the city. On arrival my first stop was in Georges Street, where I spent an hour in the marvelous museum of The Grand Lodge of Scotland. Here I saw the original of the famous painting – The Inauguration of Robert Burns as Poet Laureate of The Lodge Canongate Kilwinning Edinburgh on the 1st March 1787. This of course is only one of a plethora of fascinating Freemasonic artifacts from around the Scottish Constitution worldwide.One banner, particularly caught my eye was the banner used by The District Grand Lodge of Scottish Freemasonry in North China.
So, if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh, with an hour to spend, make your way to 96 George Street, where you will find a fascinating collection of spectacular Masonic artifacts ranging from the Visitor’s Book signed by by Edward Prince of Wales, on his visit to the Hall in December 1924 to a wide ranging collection of Books, Aprons, Certificates, Glassware, Silverware, Paintings, China, Clocks, Medals, Jewels, Tokens and Jetons. I attach a further example of the old brass dial of a Grand Father clock, just to give you an idea of the quality of the materials on view
Next port of call was The Scottish National War Memorial, located, right at the upper level of Edinburgh Castle. This is a spectacular and moving venue, which acts as the focus for National Grief in Scotland. Sadly, we in Ireland have no similar facility in Ireland, and as a consequence, our remembrance does not have the same ability to unite our mourning into one homogeneous mass, as in Scotland. One particularly moving aspect of the memorial is the scope of people and activities remembered, that played a part in The Great War. So one of the aspects remembered was the sacrifices of Canaries and Mice – The Tunnellers’ Friends – These small creatures were used by miners to give early warning if the air was becoming unfit to breath. On the individual memorial to the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, we find the Gaelic Inscription – CUIMHNICHIBC . NA . SUINN. NACH . MAIREANN . MAIRIDU . AN . CLIU BEO . GU . BRATH which loosely translated as Remember the Heroes who are no more : Their renown will live for evermore. Again Brethren, this should be another visit, if you get the opportunity. It is rare to find a building where Proportion, Light and Shade, Dignity and Appropriateness to Purpose come together so successfully to provide the most fitting memorial to the sacrafices of a people in The Great War.
By now I was starting to get a trifle peckish, so thankfully a suitable venue was easily found at 352 Boswells Court.
Now, it was time to make my way out to Rosyth, to the comfort of my hotel, for a rest and the opportunity to freshen up, before my lift arrived to take me to the Masonic Hall in Rosyth. My taxi driver, one of my oldest friends in Lodge Hope was Past Master Jim Swan, who arrived dead on time and took me to the Lodge.
I am very grateful to the Brethren of Hope for their invitation to present a Paper, and it reminded me of my first visit in 1994 to present a paper at one of their first symposiums. We have had several visits since and made many good friends including Bill Howie, John Wade, John Acaster, John Belton, Alan Turton, and the late Neville Barker Cryer. There have been many changes from those early days, not all for the better, yet it remains one of those places that you can walk straight back into and its just like you have only been away for a few days.
My presentation, by powerpoint was a review of communication within a research Lodge, and looked at how we have traditionally presented our researches, before going on to consider the many electronic options now available to us in the 21st century. I then went on to detail the Indiana Initiative, the seminal work carried out by Wor Bro Albert McClelland OSM and his helpers in presenting a series of 46 one hour dvd presentations on the world wide web during the year 2011. Interestingly, and fittingly the first Presentation was made by Wor Bro John Wade, a past master of Lodge Hope of Kurrachi, and the second presentation was made by myself on behalf of Irish Freemasonry. Anyone interested in learning more about these presentations will find some of them in our video section, on the main www.irishfreemasonry.com site.
Brethren, we brought the evening to a close with some thoughts on the way forward. I suggested that we, as Research Lodges in Ireland Scotland and England should take steps to work much closer together and use our combined strength to promote Freemasonry in a much stronger way. We have many excellent Masonic Researchers in our midst, and we should be making much more of this pool of talent in the three home Constitutions, tp provide interest and diversity to our members with an input of fresh research from across the United Kingdom and Ireland. One way this can be developed is by holding an annual meeting of representatives from the Research Lodges in England, Ireland and Scotland, hosted by one Constitution at a time, when they can showcase their ongoing works to all present.The next year another Constitution can take up the baton and so on. I certainly seemed to hit a chord with this proposal, which along with other aspects of the Presentation were discussed in depth in the subsequent Question and Answer session at the end of the evening. It was a very enjoyable night, and my hosts looked after me very well, as they always do. Bro Swan collected me on the morning and made sure that I made it to the airfield in time, and I’ve now returned to the home sod, ready for the forthcoming Act of Remembrance in the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim headquarters in Rosemary Street, Belfast, at 8.00PM on Monday the 24th November 2014. P.G.L. have a short meeting starting at 7.00pm on the night, and all Brethren and their spouses are welcome. We have a special video presentation prepared before the servie begins and there will be a display of First World WAr and Masonic material, including a few First World War recruitment posters on display, on the night. Tea and biscuits will be provided, and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible, as The Provincial Grand Lodge mark the centenary of the start of The Great War, which had a colossal effect on the history of the 20th Century.