I recently found three issues of an old Victorian monthly publication entitled The Masonic Visitor – The Journal of Irish Freemasonry. This was a monthly magazine, published at The Office, 12 Dawson Street, in Dublin, under the editorship of Brother the Reverend Charles W. Ganley who lived at Kilkea, Mageney in Co Kildare. This Brother was a member of Amethyst Lodge 206 Dublin and a Past Master of Carlow Lodge No 116. He was also a member of Carlow 116 Royal Arch Chapter, P.P.G.P.D, South East Counties, PK, Prelate of The Preceptory of Palestine and a member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076 London E.C. As I was looking through these volumes, I was reminded of an earlier publishing attempt, from the period 1792 -1795.
The Irish Sentimental and Masonic magazine was printed monthly in Dublin from July 1792 by William Folds printer for John Jones of No 3 Grafton Street, just opposite the College ( Trinity ). Each issue had an engraved title page and index and contained engraved illustrations in each monthly volume. Its contents included anecdotes, original essays and poetry. In the style of the day, the articles and essays tended to be broken up and run over several issues, to encourage you to buy same, to see how each story ended. Interestingly, there was only a little Masonic content at that time, in the 1790’s and even though they brought in a new printer Robert Marchband in 1794, the magazine ultimately failed, as publication of the December 1795 volume would be the last to be published.
In the 19th Century, we in Ireland had to resort to English publications such as The Freemason’s Quarterly Review, or The Freemasons Magazine and Masonic Mirror to provide our light reading. Anyone interested, can see examples of both these works in our museum collections in the Rosemary Street Provincial Masonic Hall. In both of these English publications, there are occasional references to the activities of The Grand Lodge of Ireland and to the activities of some of the Lodges and Irish Masonic personalities of the day.
When publication of The Masonic Visitor began in 1894, Brother Ganley made an effort to focus his publication on purely Irish Masonic matters. He did have a small section for news from U.G.L.E. and The Grand Lodge of Scotland, but his main focus remained on the activities of the Irish Craft. So in volume 2 issue 1, dated 1st January 1895, we find an interesting article on The Right Honourable Lord Arthur William Hill M.P. the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of Down. We learn about a number of new Masonic Halls in Hillsborough, Bangor, Hollywood, Newry, Gilford, Donaghadee, Rathfriland and Banbridge. In another article we are given details of the various officers serving in The Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim that year, followed by a four page essay on the history of Freemasonry in Old Kinsale. Next we read about a Masonic service held in the Cathedral, Lisburn, organised by the Belfast Masonic Charities. There are further articles on Friendship Masonic Lodge No 513, The Glen in Ligoniel, an update on the Installation meeting of Grand Lodge on John’s Day 1894 ans notes on a Masonic concert held in the Fisherman’s Hall Kinsale, which had been specially decorated with Masonic emblems including the old tools used by the original Kinsale Lodge in the 1790’s. One other interesting feature is the inclusion of a section with dates of the various Lodge meetings, that were to be held in January 1895 including Grand Lodge, THe Board of General Purposes, THe Grand Lodge of Instruction and The Committee of Charity and Inspection.
The second issue dated February 1895 starts off with an article on The Masonic Province of North Munster and its Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master Rt Wor Bro Sir C.B. Barrington Bart D.L. This is followed with a list of Provincial Officers in North Musster for 1895.Other articles include a succession of Grand Officers of The Grand Lodge of Ireland 1780 -1790, an article on the Centenary of St John’s Lodge Lisburn when they received an original poem penned by Bro Joseph Hope on the Centenary of the Lodge. Other notes include a report on the Lodge installation at Kinsale, an article on the year 1812, when a Youghall sloop called “Three Friends” was captured by the French privateer the Le Juret, captained by Louis Marencourt, ship’s master. a further update on The Masonic Schools, when we learn about some of the examinations taken by the boys and girls. Of great interest in 1895, we find an un-expected article “About Women Freemasons” We also read about an Installation Festival held in The Thomas Valentine Lodge No 21, Belfast. You may be surprised to learn that they held their Installation Supper and Dance in the Imperial Hotel, Belfast, where the assembled Brethren and Ladies were greeted with a banner proclaiming ” Welcome to the Thomas Valentine Masonic Lodge”. One other interesting article in this issue was a piece on “The Medical Profession and Freemasonry”, in which we learn about a number of prominent Doctors and Surgeons in Ireland who became enthuiastic supports of The Craft in Ireland. We start with James Brennan S.G.W. 1732-3 who went on to serve as D.G.M. in 1734-37 right up to Francis C. Crossle MB Prov G.Secretary of Down. Indeed I would take this opportunity to bring this list right up to date in the 21st Century with mention to Kwesi O.P. Ackah Knight of the Sun, Representative of The Grand Lodge Of Ghana at The Grand Lodge of Ireland and well known and respected past master of The Irish Lodge of Research No 200.
Our third and final issue dated March 1895 begins with an article on Right Wor Bro Stephen Moore D.L., Provincial Grand Master of the South Eastern Counties and then goes on to tell us quite a bit about the Province. We also learn about Lodge 44 Clonmel and a romantic incident from their history. The story goes that a French officer called Lavalette had been taken prisoner, during one of our continental wars in the 19th century. He escaped from captivity during the night and suspicion was raised against one English officer, who like the Frenchman, was a Freemason. This officer of the guard was the Hon John Hely Hutchinson, afterwards Third Earl of Donoughmore, who in 1845 was Installed as First Worshipful Master of The Donoughmore Lodge No 44 I.C. in Clonmel, Tipperary, Ireland. For many years Lord Donoughmore was known to his intimates as Lavalette Hutchinson. Other articles in this issue include some background on The Grand Lodge of Instruction, a report on Manitoba honours to a Cork Freemason, Prize Giving at The Masonic Orphan’s schools, The next part of the Succession of Officers in The Grand Lodge of Ireland 1790 -1801. The Dublin Masonic Glee Club, A Spray of Acacia, reporting on the death of Wor Bro Richard Rhodes Provincial Grand Secretary of the Midland Counties,A further episode on “Freemasonry in Old Kinsale” REport from Harmony Lodge No555 Fermoy, presentation by The Military Lodge of Ireland No 728 to Brother Field Marshal Lord Viscount Wolseley K.P.,G.C.B.,G.C.M.G. Commander in Chief of the Forces in Ireland, to mark the end of his two years of service to Lodge 728 as Master. When Lord Woseley finally retired from the Dinner, he was played out with a spirited performance of The British Grenadiers, a delicate compliment to this distinguished military hero.
In 1901 another Irish masonic journal appeared, and this was called Irish Masonry ( Illustrated ). This was a magazine for the 20th century with plenty of pictures and articles. The content was 100% Masonic, but again concentrated more on The United Grand Lodge of England, rather than The Grand Lodge of Ireland, as the title might suggest. Indeed, if we even look at the portrait of His Grace the Duke of Abercorn K.G., we will see him dressed in the English manner, with his apron on over his suit. As you all know, we in Ireland always wear our aprons under our jackets, in the Irish tradition.
It is worth noting that some one hundred years later in the 1990’s we in Ireland, once again produced an all-Ireland Masonic quarterly magazine, published by The Irish Lodge of Research. This production, supported by local advertising was very successfull and led to similar productions by The Grand Lodge of Ireland and their News-Sheet, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim magazine, The District Grand Chapter of Antrim magazine and THe Newsletter of The Provincial Priory of East Ulster. Sadly this influx of competing titles all funded by the same advertisers led to the eventual demise of our Lodge of Research magazine, and now in the 21st century, we like many other Lodges now have a presence on the web.