What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is described in its own ritual as a Beautiful or Peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. The symbolism of freemasonry is found throughout the Masonic Lodge, and contains many of the working tools of a medieval or renaissance stonemason.
What is a Masonic Lodge?
A Masonic lodge is the basic organisational group of Freemasons. It is also commonly used as a term for a building in which such a group meets. Every new lodge must be warranted or chartered by a Grand Lodge, but is subject to its direction only in enforcing the published constitution of the jurisdiction.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland
The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the second most senior Grand Lodge of Freemasons in the world, and the oldest in continuous existence. Since no specific record of its foundation exists, 1725 is the year celebrated in Grand Lodge anniversaries, as the oldest reference to Grand Lodge of Ireland comes from the Dublin Weekly Journal of 26 June 1725. This describes a meeting of the Grand Lodge to install the new Grand Master, The 1st Earl of Rosse, on 24 June. The Grand Lodge has regular Masonic jurisdiction over 13 Provincial Grand Lodges covering all the Freemasons of the island of Ireland, and another 11 provinces worldwide.
History of Freemasonry in Ireland
There is considerable evidence of Masonic Lodges meeting in Ireland prior to the 18th century. There are references to Lodge meetings across Dublin in a speech given in Trinity College, Dublin, as far back as 1688. The oldest artifact of Fraternal Masonry in Ireland, and one of the oldest masonic artifacts in the world, is the Baal's Bridge Square, on which the date 1507 is inscribed. The brass square was recovered from Baal's Bridge in Limerick during reconstruction in 1830, and appeared to have been deliberately placed under the foundation stone of the old bridge. It is inscribed with the phrase, "I will strive to live with love and care, upon the level and by the square."
According to the Dublin Weekly Journal, The 1st Earl of Rosse was elected as the new Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland on 26 June 1725. The attendant procession included the Masters and Wardens of six lodges of "Gentleman Freemasons". The article has the strong implication that this was not the first such election, but since no earlier reference has yet been found, the Grand Lodge of Ireland dates its foundation to 1725, making it the second oldest, and the oldest extant Grand Lodge in the World. At least as early as 1726, there was also a Grand Lodge to the South, in Munster, which was absorbed by the Dublin Grand Lodge in 1733.
The Most Worshipful The Grand Master of Ireland, Douglas T. Grey.
The Irish Grand Lodge was the first to issue warrants to lodges in their present form, and, unlike the other Grand Lodges in London and Edinburgh, had no problems in issuing warrants for travelling lodges. Thus it was that the majority of masonic lodges in the British Army, wherever they came from, were warranted under the Irish Constitution. The form of masonry that the British Army spread in the colonies was predominantly Irish. It was an English regiment with an Irish warrant that started the lodge from which Prince Hall Freemasonry sprang.