Advance Notice on Talk on Freemasonry and the First Day of the Somme.

Lecture on the Somme at Ballycarry.

Lecture on the Somme at Ballycarry.

Brethren, on the First Day of the Somme 1916, the population of Ulster was to suffer an awful devastating blow as their menfolk endured terrible losses in the killing fields of The Somme, as they went over the top at 7.30AM and charged into a maelstrom of death and destruction. Fathers, Sons, Brothers, Cousins and next door neighbours died in their struggle to bring the war to their German allies. And in the case of the Ulster Division, they were very successful with their advance, which took them far in front of their adjacent divisions. And that ultimately is what done them in, as the Germans not only rallied and recaptured most of their own trenches, because the Ulster’s had no support, either behind or on their flanks.

The Brethren who served from Redhall Lodge No 260 Ballycarry.

The Brethren who served from Redhall Lodge No 260 Ballycarry.

Their Fellow Volunteers from Straid Lodge No 276, Ballyclare.

Their Fellow Volunteers from Straid Lodge No 276, Ballyclare.

Volunteers from Islandmagee 162 I.C.

Volunteers from Islandmagee 162 I.C.

Volunteers from Chichester Lodge no 313, whitehead.

Volunteers from Chichester Lodge no 313, whitehead.

Many brave Masonic volunteers joined up to serve in the newly formed territorial battalions of the 36th Ulster Brigade. Many came from the Ulster Volunteers, who had some small experience in military training. On the above pages you will find details of the Brethren from Redhall 260, Straid 276, Islandmagee 162 and Chichester 313, Whiehead who joined to serve King and country.

Interesting some of the lines that best sum up the thoughts and fears of the soldiers waiting patiently for the great attack on the morning of the 1st July 1916, were written by none other than local boy James Orr, as he waited on the battle of Antrim, on Donegore Hill on the evening of the 7th June 1798. In his poem entitles A Prayer he wrote :-

Almighty Lord of Life and Death,
while men for strife prepare.
Let but this heart, thy favour feel,
And peace will still be there.

How dare I ask, thy bolts to throw,
whose mandate – do not kill,
But whilst as man, I have to fight,
As man, oh may I feel.

Why dread to die, what griefs I’ve borne,
what pains have plucked each nerve,
Yet why not wish to grow more wise,
And live my friends to serve.

Almighty Lord of Life and Death,
While men for strife prepare.
Let but this heart thy favour feel,
And peace will still be there.

Brethren if you are in the south Antrim area tomorrow evening, then please come along to Redhall Masonic lodge room and help us mark the anniversary of this awful battle, which claimed so many Brethren from the Ballycarry district. We hope to tell you a little about Masonic activities on the front line and hope to give you all a bite and social hour afterwards. So if you are free, then please come along and support this effort by a local Lodge to recall the sacrifices of its members in the Great War – to End all Wars.

About irishfreemason

Rt Wor Bro Bashford lives in Ireland where he joined the Masonic Order in 1977. He became a Master Mason in 1978 and served as Master of his Mother Lodge, Moyarget No. 280 Irish Constitution in 1990. He was appointed Richard Robinson Memorial Lecturer in the Irish Masonic Province of Antrim in 1992 and 2004. In 1996 he was appointed Grand Master's personal Standard Bearer by Most Wor. Bro Darwin Templeton, G.M. In 2000 he became the Millennium Master of the `irish Lodge of Research No. 200, and in 2001 went on to become Excellent King of the irish Chapter of Research No. 222.He is the current Editor of the Irish Lodge of Research, and has been since 1992, and of the Irish Chapter of Research since 1996. He was appointed Representative of the Grand Lodge of Portugal at the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 2006 ( a ten year appointment), giving him the courtesy title of Right Worshipful Brother. He is currently Provincial Grand Librarian for the Province of Antrim, and Curator of the museum at their headquarters in Belfast.
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