Lifting the lid on 150 Years of Freemasonry

The Masonic Lodge of Antrim is celebrating 150 years of Freemasonry in Ireland with an exciting Pop-Up Museum in the Linen Hall Library throughout November.

Worshipful Grand Master Douglas Grey is pictured with Samantha McCombe, Librarian from Linenhall Library alongside The Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro John Dickson.

The unique exhibition which starts on Thursday 1st and runs to 30th November in the Linenhall Library, Belfast, will showcase a number of interesting artefacts and documents and ultimately will tell the story of Freemasonry in Ireland, aiming to dispel some of the myths and legends that surround this fraternal and historic organisation.

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations with over 5,000 members in Antrim, 30,000 across Ireland, and six million world-wide. They are the second largest charitable donors in the UK (after the National Lottery Fund) with over £33m raised last year by more than 180 masonic groups.

Anticipating interest in the exhibition, Provincial Grand Master, John Dickson, who has been a Freemason for over 40 years says; “We are celebrating one of the oldest charitable organisations in the world, one which I am proud to be a member of, one which is steeped in history and dedicated to helping people in society in any way we can.

“I hope that people will want to come and find out more about Freemasonry and discover that what we stand for is not sinister or secretive, but simply we exist to make good men better. Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life, we are an organisation which is caring, honourable, promotes peace, loyalty, the good order of society and upholds the law.”

Visitors to the exhibition can expect to learn about some of the more well-known Freemasons such as motorcyclist Joey Dunlop, Sir Charles Lanyon, who famously designed Belfast Castle, the Lanyon building at Queens University and the Palm House at Botanic Gardens as well as more internationally renowned names such as actor John Wayne, entertainer Bob Monkhouse and professional golfer Arnold Palmer.

Samantha McCombe, Librarian at Linen Hall Library welcomes the exhibition; “The Linen Hall is delighted to welcome the Freemasonry pop up museum. The exhibition is new and exclusive to the Library and gives visitors an opportunity to learn about a lesser known aspect of our cultural history.””

Visitors will also learn more about the charitable work carried out by Freemason’s across Ireland, including Action Cancer, The Northern Ireland Hospice along with the Girls and Boys education funds, widows funds and the Teddies For Loving Care project, Grand Master John Dickson explains further;   “Our members engage in acts of benevolence in a variety of ways, either through simple gestures such as gift giving, or through the raising of monies for a variety of funds which help a huge number of people.

“As Freemasons of Ireland we continue to put benevolence and kindness to others at the forefront of our membership and are committed to giving to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities. Our own Belfast Masonic Charity Fund which was set-up in 1868 ‘to provide relief to poor and distressed Masons or their families’ has helped relieve financial and emotional distress of Masons or their immediate families through accidents illness and death for over 150 years.

“We similarly have Our Boys and Girls Fund charities which helps educate children from impoverished families, in the past children were educated in our Masonic Schools which were located in Dublin, but we have since moved on from this and support children through the existing education system. Our various Widows Funds offer financial help to the wives of Masons after the death of their husband, but equally as importantly they exist to remind each and every widow that they are not forgotten after their husband has passed.”

“This year, we have chosen Action Cancer as our official charity of the year – we will run very regular fundraising initiatives and our members will donate their own money to this very worthwhile cause. This is only one of vary many charities who we will be donating to in our 150th year. The Freemasons of Ireland Medical Research Fund are also supporting research into Multiple Sclerosis. This work, which is now completing its first year, is being carried out at the internationally renowned MS Research Cluster at Queen’s University, Belfast.”

John concluded” It is a joy to celebrate 150 years of the Provincial Grand Lodge, Antrim, my membership is integral to who I am, I have made so many life-long friends and have gained so much personally from our benevolent activities and would recommend joining to anyone with a passion for doing good in the world.”

The 150 Years of Freemasonry pop-up museum will run from Thursday 1st to 30th November in the Linenhall Library, Belfast.

If you are interested in joining the Freemasons of Antrim visit http://www.pglantrim.org .

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