Michael J Ward the Grand King of the Supreme Royal Arch of Ireland,  gave the club an outline and history of Freemasonry
 

.  Mr. Ward has been a Mason holding various titles since 1962. He was born in Eastbourne, Sussex, England and worked at the Arthur Guinness Brewery, in. James Gate Dublin. Less than two weeks ago, he was installed as one of the highest offices possible as a Freemason, as Grand King of the Supreme Royal Arch of Ireland.

It has been suggested that the order developed out of the stonemasons' guilds of the medieval period.  The guilds first received Royal Charters in the 12th Century and contained the likes of merchants and craftsmen.  These structures served to regulate prices, wages and standards of work.  The individual would learn his trade first as an apprentice, then as a fellow and finally become a master craftsman. In order for him to prove his practical skills he would be taught secret signs which would identify him to potential employers.  There would be an an initiation of some sort, stressing that it was an important turning point in a mans life.  Over time they admitted and accepted non-operative members.  These men would gain a certain prestige within the society, as the skills of the craftsmen were revered and with the local powers the guilds enjoyed a chance to vote in local elections  The order is still perceived as more secretive than it actually is.  Literature on the subject is widely available.  It is possible to visit Freemason Halls, see the rooms in which meetings take place and even consult their minutes and membership records, which date back to the mid 18th Century.  It would be better to describe the society not as a secret society but as a society having secrets.

 

The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland, to give it the full title, is the ruling body of the order which can be traced back to 1725, at least.  The function of the Grand Lodge was, as it still is today, the regulation of the Lodges of members belonging to the Irish constitution.

 

 Although the majority of membership has always come from Ireland, there are also Irish Lodges established in other countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and Bermuda . The oldest Lodge in Bermuda is the Hannibal Lodge No. 224, which meets in St. Georges'; it was warranted on 18th February 1867.  The second Lodge is Abercorn Lodge No. 123, which meets in Hamilton, and received its warrant on 11th June 1908.  The third Lodge is Bermuda Garrison Lodge No. 894, based in Warwick, and dating from 7th December 1986.  The Lodges of Bermuda were formed into a Province in 1989 and subsequently Bermuda Lodge of Installed Masters No. 924 in October of 1998.

 

Whilst the order has been generally regarded by the public as a secret Society, there has been a clear message from the senior brethren in the order that they should be seen as more open.  To this end a web site was established www.irish-freemason.org and this has generated quite a bit of interest and has also brought many new members.