St. Patrick’s Masonic Lodge, 77, Newry, is the oldest Lodge in Ulster, having attained its two hundredth year in 1937. The Lodge still works under the Warrant it received in 1737.
The occasion of the Installation of Officers on Monday 4th January 1938 was an auspicious one, for as well as providing an opportunity for celebrating the bi-centenary, it marked the beginning of a new century as far as the Lodge is concerned.
Many prominent Masons attended the proceedings, and a feature was the extraordinarily efficient manner in which the ritual and working were carried out. Every member of the Lodge rose to the occasion, and the Officers in particular are to be heartily congratulated.
A cheque for £200, representing the amount contributed by the members of the Lodge in commemoration of the occasion, was handed to Right Wor. Bro. David Ferris, J.P., President and Treasurer of the Newry District Charity Committee. The money was allocated in the following way:- Down Masonic Widows’ Fund, £50; Victoria Jubilee Annuity Fund, £50; M.O.B.S., £50; M.F.O.S., £50.
Lodge 77 enters its 201st year in a very healthy state, both numerically and financially, and there is every indication that it shall continue to carry on its splendid work and, in its adherence to the precepts of Freemasonry, set an example not only to the Province of Down, but to the whole Masonic Ireland.
Joseph Fisher, WM,
James Torrens, I.P.M.,
David McConnell, P.P.G.S.W., Secretary,
Thomas Watt, P.P.G.S.B., Treasurer.
Those present included:
Bro. Rev. A. Eadie B.A., Kilkeel, having said grace, the toast of “The King” was given by the newly installed Worshipful Master Bro. Joseph Fisher and was duly honoured.
The next sentiment honoured was that of the “Grand Lodge of Ireland”.
Responding to the toast the Deputy Grand Master returned thanks most heartily for the wonderful welcome given him, and for the way in which the toast of the Grand Lodge of Ireland had been honoured. He congratulated members of Lodge 77 and wished them many happy returns of the day. When at the installation in Downshire Road Presbyterian Church Lecture Hall he had seen that wonderful old document, the Warrant of that historic Lodge being carried around, and he could not help wondering how many times that Warrant had taken part in a similar ceremony. It gave him the feeling that the document had a spirit and was alive – the living spirit going around and taking its place among the Brethren of the Lodge. It was a wonderful thing to have a Warrant like that going round with two hundred years behind it. A Lodge with that record was something to be proud of and St. Patrick’s 77 could really hold up their heads.
Proceeding, the Deputy Grand Master referred to visits to other Grand Lodges, in particular the visit to the Grand Lodge of Scotland bi-centenary celebrations. The Duke of York (now King George VI) was installed as Grand Master Mason of Scotland and those who heard him speak and saw him preside over the meeting were much impressed by his dignity and his charm of manner. Another deputation had gone from Ireland to see King George VI installed as Past Grand Master of the United Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of England in the Albert Hall. He was the first King of England who had ever taken an active part in Freemasonry after his accession to the Throne. He (the speaker) was told there were two Lodges which he still attended at their ordinary communications.
In conclusion, the Deputy Grand Master thanked the Brethren of Lodge 77 for their welcome and their invitation, and wished them many, many years of continued prosperity and continued example to the other Brethren.
The Provincial Grand Master replied to the sentiment of the “Provincial Grand Lodge of Down”. He congratulated the Worshipful Master on his succession to the Chair on such a marvellous occasion. He thought they were blessed with very good Officers, and he thought the Lodge would continue to be a power in the Province of Down, as it had been in the past. “May you carry on as you have done in the past, and I can say no better,” he concluded amid applause.
The toast of “The Rt. Worshipful the Grand Secretary and the Rt. Worshipful the Grand Director of Ceremonies of the Grand Lodge of Ireland” was then honoured and replied to by the Grand Secretary and the Grand Director of Ceremonies. The latter remarked that the bi-centenary of any institution would be a wonderful thing. There must be something wonderful in Freemasonry when a Lodge in a small Province in a small country could continue for over two hundred years. That Lodge had a wonderful record. Some Lodges found their inspiration in the ritual. Might he compliment that Lodge on the very excellent way in which the work had been done that evening. He thanked the members for a memorable experience and he wished the Worshipful Master and the Lodge another two hundred years prosperity.
The toast to “Our Charities” was proposed by Rt. Worshipful Bro. David Ferris and responded to by the Provincial Deputy Grand Master of Down, Rt. Wor. Bro. William Robinson. Bro. Robinson proceeded to give some historical facts about the town of Newry. He concluded by saying Newry Freemasons were proud of one thing, that its Lodges always endeavoured to give more than they received. No claim was sent forward to their Benevolent Funds until it had been critically examined and approved by the local Charity Committee. The Newry Brethren, in giving more than they received, displayed the true spirit of Charity.
Proposing the toast of “Our Worshipful Master”, Wor. Bro. George Auterson said their principal business that evening had been to install Wor. Bro. Joseph Fisher as Worshipful Master of that Lodge. For several generations the name of Fisher had been prominent in the promotion of everything for the good of Lodge 77. It was appropriate that night to have a representative of the family to start them on their first year of the new century. He had taken a great interest in Masonry and it had been his (the speaker’s) privilege to instruct him in the degrees of Masonry. He was sure he was voicing the wish of every Brother present when he wished Brother Fisher the best of good luck. “Long may he be spared to be with us here in Lodge 77”, he added amid applause.
In reply, the Worshipful Master said how proud he was of occupying the Chair on that historic occasion. He thanked his installing Officer V. Wor. Bro. Auterson and also Wor. Bro. W.C. Leeson who had helped them in their labour that night. He was also honoured and pleased to have the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, and other Grand Lodge Officers, as well as the Provincial Grand Master with them that night. He concluded by specially asking his Officers and Brethren to back him up, back the Lodge up, and help one another.
The sentiment of “Our Visitors” was given by Bro. Rev. R.A. Swanzy B.A. and was replied to by Rt. Wor. Bro. Bel-Burrows, Wor. Bro. Philip Crossle, Wor. Bro. Hanna, Wor. Bro. Price and Bro. Rev. A. Eadie B.A., Kilkeel.
Wor. Bro. David McConnell proposed the toast of the “Immediate Past Master”. Wor. Bro. Torrens had worked harder than any man he had known and had played a big part in publishing the book to mark the bi-centenary. He had never grudged a moment and had done his very best for the Lodge.
In reply, Wor. Bro. Torrens said it had been one of the most wonderful nights he had had in that hall. All the members of the Lodge had taken a great interest in the bi-centenary and in the sale of the books. They were highly indebted to Wor. Bro. Parkinson, who had spent a great deal of time in compiling the book. He would like to wish the Worshipful Master and the Officers of Lodge 77 a very happy and prosperous New Year.
The proceedings terminated with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and the National Anthem.