Brethren, I can only apologize for the lack of postings over the last few weeks, but my focus has been on the final preparations for my presentation on the 23rd June 2016 to the Brethren of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076 on the registers of The United Grand Lodge of England. This Lodge founded on the 28th November 1884 was formed by a number of English Masonic Researchers, including Robert Freke Gould to conduct authentic Masonic Research, which would be subject to vigorous academic questioning and verification by the Brethren of the Lodge, before finally making it into print in their annual printed transactions.Our very own Rt Wor Bro Chetwode Crawley was the first non-English member who joined the Lodge on the 2nd June 1887. In the early years of Q.C. many Irish contributors were found among the published Lodge papers and among this number were Brethren such as John Heron Lepper, Philip Crossle, William Tait, Richard E Parkinson, Francis Joseph Biggar to name but a few. It has been quite a few years since anyone from Ireland has read a paper to the Lodge.
In my own particular case, I joined the Irish Lodge of Research, as a corresponding circle member in 1983, and one year later in 1984 I researched and presented my first paper on the history of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cary and Dunluce, which was presented to the Brethren of The Irish Lodge of Research, in the Chatham Hall Masonic Lodge Rooms, located outside the village of Armoy, in the north east corner of the Masonic Province of Antrim. Two years later in 1986, I joined a small party from Lodge 200 who were invited over to Great Queen Street in London to participate in their centenary celebrations, which were held in the Grand Lodge Room, with a large turn out of Freemasons from around the globe. It was at this time that my interest in QC began and now some thirty years later, I have the opportunity to present a talk on Aspects of the History of Freemasonry in Ireland illustrated with photographs of some of the many surviving artifacts found in Lodges, Halls and Masonic collections throughout the island of Ireland.
My travelling companion and I flew over from Belfast International to Gatwick, and then travelled into London by train. In this case we had a number of delays on the train journey due to the extensive flooding on our route, but eventually we arrived in time to join with a number of the elected members of QC for a light lunch prior to the meeting at 4.00pm.
After lunch we all strolled over to Freemasons Hall, and whilst the QC Elected Members held their various committee meetings, we went up to the Museum and Library, where we were able to view some very rare items from the collections of U.G.L.E.
The meeting proper started promptly at 4.00pm and among the announcements were news of the forthcoming Quatuor Coronati Tercentenary Conference entitled The History of Freemasonrywhich will be held between the 9th and 11 of September 2016 in Queens College Cambridge, when QC will add its voice to the celebrations of the formation of The Grand Lodge of Westminster in 1717. As we all know, this was a precursor to the formation of The United Grand Lodge of England nearly one hundred years later in 1813, just after the Brethren forming The Grand Lodge of the Antients joined the Brethren of the Grand Lodge of the Moderns to form the new United Grand Lodge under the Grand Master-ship of The Duke of Sussex.
Then it was my opportunity to speak on the unbroken record of The Grand Lodge of Ireland from 1725 to date. And in the course of my talk, I was able to show the Brethren some of our older Irish artifacts including.
At the end of the meeting, I received a number of questions from all present, re details from my paper. It was encouraging to see that not only had they all listened to my presentation, but they had also studied my written paper in great detail, before the meeting began. All in all I found it very encouraging that there still is a good level of curiosity out there for the importance of the role, played by The Grand Lodge of Ireland in the origins and influence of Ireland in the growth of Freemasonry around the globe. We then retired to The Kingsway Hotel for some excellent Wandering Bear Chardonnay from California, Deep fried brie, Marinated roast chicken breast and White chocolate and respberry brulee.
By now, we were all in a relaxed frame of mind, and eventually retired to The Pillars of Hercules for a few pints in a less formal setting. All in all it was a memorable day, and well worth the 30 year wait. We eventually retired to bed, for a well earned rest.
After breakfast the next morning, we returned to Great Queen Street, for a more relaxed look around. As always the Grand Lodge Room was exceptional, and we did of course try out the Grand Masters chair.
Later in the day, we had an opportunity to visit the Royal Air Force Central Memorial in St Clement Danes Church, which contains the Books of Rememnberance covering the entire history of The Royal Air Force from 1915 to date. It also contains records of all the 16,000 names of United States Air Force personnel, who died, whilst serving in the UK in the Second World War.
Our final call, before heading back to Gatwick, was a visit to The Temple Church, original base of the Knights Templar in London, and built in a circular shape in 1185AD modelled on The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.