"Blest that abode where mirth and joy
And every brother finds a ready chair"
HER MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY
The Most Worshipful The Grand Master and
Officers of The Most Worshipful The Grand Lodge of Ireland
The Right Worshipful The Provincial Grand
Master and Officers of Right Worshipful The Provincial Grand Lodge of
Down and All Other Provincial Grand Lodges in Fraternal Communication
Freedom Lodge of Freemasons No. 394
Our Benevolent Institutions
Our Musical Brethren
"Wives, Sisters, Mothers, absent from our
If any wait, haste home while you are able;
The house is late, so, Brother, on your way;
Peace, love and harmony should end the day."
The original Warrant No. 394 was issued in Dublin on 7th April, 1763, to
Bros. Thomas Read, Robert Turbitt and John Gaddis, authorising them to
hold a Lodge of Freemasons at Lurgan, Co. Armagh, and in 1800 the Lodge
removed to Poyntzpass, Co. Armagh. Exact details are difficult to
ascertain for early periods, but it is known that a further move to
Loughgilly, Markethill, Co. Armagh, was made in 1803, by which time it
is recorded that 45 Members had been registered. For a number of
years little is known, but, by 1825 81 members had been registered, and
in 1838 this figure had risen to 96 members.
In August, 1842, permission was sought and granted to transfer the
meeting place to Craigmore, Co. Armagh (near Newry), but it would not
seem that the Lodge enjoyed a very flourishing time. No new
members are recorded thereafter until the Warrant was returned and
cancelled on 5th July 1856.
During the latter part of 1905 twenty-eight Brethren, sitting in
various Lodges in the City of Belfast, conceived the idea of forming a
new Masonic Lodge. Accordingly they applied to the M.W. Grand
Master and the Grand Lodge for a Warrant and Charter of Constitution,
the three main signatories being Hugh McMillen, W. A. Irwin and James
The suggested venue for the meetings of the new Lodge was the Suidhe
Masonic Rooms, which had been dedicated about three years earlier.
The request being granted, the ceremony of Constitution, Consecration
and Dedication of Freedom Lodge No. 394 took place on Thursday, 15th
February, 1906, and was carried out by R.W. Bro. Colonel Sharman
Crawford, then Provincial Grand Master of Down, assisted by the
Provincial Grand Officers.
The first Worshipful Master of the lodge was W. Bro. Hugh McMillen, and
it is gratifying to record that he continued as an enthusiastic and
active member throughout his life; five of his sons were initiated
in the Lodge, and four are recorded in our list of Past Masters, whilst
in this year of our Golden Jubilee, his grandson is our Junior Deacon.
Of the foundation members, we believe that only one survives, W. Bro. E.
R. H. May, and we are pleased and honoured to have him with us.
The first Honorary Member of the lodge was R.W. Bro. Colonel R. G.
Sharman Crawford, and the first candidate was Richard Keith, W. Master
of the Lodge in 1912. It is interesting to note that, having been
proposed in the Lodge at the Constitution Communication on the 15th
February, 1906, he was balloted for on the 13th March, 1906, and
elected, and being in attendance and prepared for admission, received
the E.A. Degree. The custom of initiating on the night of ballot
seems to have continued until the formation of the Ballymacarrett
Committee of Inspection in 1908.
The membership commenced with twenty-eight, and to date one hundred and
eighteen members have been registered. from these figures it will
be seen that at no time has the Lodge had a superfluity of members, but
what we have lacked in numbers, we believe we have more than made up in
enthusiasm. At the present time there are fifty-seven members on
the roll, a position comparing favourably with any time in our history.
The Lodge has been honoured on two occasions with Provincial Grand
Honours. Our first Secretary, V. W. Bro. Malcolm Macdonald,
occupied the position of Provincial Grand Secretary with zeal and
distinction for the years 1913 - 1925. W. Bro. G. Hulatt, a past
Chairman of the Charity Board and President for the present year, served
as Provincial Grand Steward of Charities for the year 1951, and has been
further honoured this year by his appointment as a Provincial Grand
Inspector. In addition to his labours on behalf of Provincial
Grand Lodge, he has shared with W. Bro. James Irwine, our Director of
Ceremonies, the major burden of the negotiations leading up to the
purchase of the Suidhe Club, and the formation of the present Mount
Masonic Hall Co. Ltd.
Our Benevolent Institutions have always found generous support both from
the Lodge as a whole and from individual members. It is our pride
that even when times were lean we have always remembered those who were
In both World Wars Brethren answered the call of their country, serving
with distinction, and we record with sorrow that the supreme sacrifice
was made by Bro. F. L. May when serving as a Captain in the Royal Irish
Rifles at Messines in June 1917.
The ritual of our ceremonies has always had our care, and we have been
fortunate in having a succession of brethren who have proved worthy
exponents. The festive board is regarded as an integral part of
out functions, serving to cement friendship and further the spirit of
brotherhood, which is such an important tenet of our Order.
"Freedom" without a full quota of visitors is unknown, and the
regularity of their appearance is our reward.
Of the past we are proud, for the present we are thankful, and for the
future we look with confidence to our more junior members to uphold our
traditions and to go on from strength to strength.