History of Masonry in Dromore, Co. Down, Northern Ireland and the building of the current Masonic Hall, on the outskirts of the Town.

Dromore Masonic Hall

Dromore Masonic Hall, Hillsborough Road, Dromore, Co. Down, Northern Ireland

In the early part of the twentieth century there were two Masonic Lodges operating in Dromore, viz. Dromore Masonic Lodge No. 70 and Star of West Down Masonic lodge No. 94.  Both of these Lodges were numerically very strong so a group of local Freemasons decided that the time was opportune to start a third lodge.  As a result a new Lodge under the title, Lagandale Lodge of Freemasons, with the number 521 was constituted in 1922.  It is believed that the name Lagandale was chosen because the river Lagan flows through Dromore from its start point on Slieve Croob to where it enters the sea at Belfast Lough.  The dale part of the name reflects the part played by the then local chemist, V.W.Bro. James Dale in the formation of the lodge.  V.W.Bro. Dale was in fact given the honour of being the Lodge's first Worshipful Master. 

From its inception the lodge held its meetings in the Masonic Hall, Wesley Place, Dromore, which Dromore Masonic Lodge No. 70 kindly agreed to share with the newly constituted lodge.

In the 1940's the three Dromore Lodges were all numerically strong and very progressive.  The lodges came to the conclusion that it would be appropriate for them to unite in the building of a new Masonic Hall to replace the two existing buildings.  Lodges 70 and 521 were still meeting in the Masonic Hall, Wesley Place, Dromore whilst Lodge 94 held its meetings in the Masonic Hall, Upper Church Street, Dromore. 

In due course a site was purchased on the Hillsborough Road, Dromore, fund raising commenced and the firm of Ferguson and McIlveen, Architects and Civil Engineers were appointed to draw up the plans for the new hall.  Plans were drawn up, tenders obtained from which the Masonic Hall Building Committee selected the tender from the local firm, John Graham (Dromore) Ltd. at a cost of 9,618  6s 7d.  Work on the new hall commenced in August 1954 and on the 21st May 1955, in the presence of a distinguished gathering of local Freemasons and Brethren from throughout County Down, three foundation stones were laid by, R.W.Bro. Sir William Robinson, 33, D.L., J.P. the then Provincial Grand Master of Down, R.W.Bro. R S C Narison, 18, J.P., the then Provincial Grand Secretary of Down and R.W.Bro Sidney Hanna, 30, MBE, the then Provincial Grand Treasurer of Down. 

The building work was completed in the spring of 1956 and on the 7th April that year the new hall was dedicated by R.W.Bro. Sir William Robinson assisted by the officers of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Down. 

The total cost of the building contract had now risen to 10,704 12s 7d.

The building of the new Masonic Hall had been entrusted to a Hall Building Committee under a succession of Chairmen and Officers, but Bro. Frank Ireland of Lodge 521 was Secretary to the Committee from its formation to the completion of the building, and for years thereafter continued in the role of Secretary to the Hall Committee.  In recognition of his service Bro. Ireland was honoured with an appointment as Provincial Grand Lodge Steward in 1964. 

Other brethren of Lodge 521 have been honoured with appointments as Provincial Grand Lodge Officers and in 1997 for the first time a member of the Lodge, Bro. David Higginson was appointed as the Representative of the Grand Lodge of Argentina to the Grand Lodge of Ireland, an office he still holds in the year 2000, his eightieth year. 

In 1997, Lagandale Lodge of Freemasons celebrated 75 years of continuous working with an Anniversary Church Service in Dromore Cathedral, when the Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. James Kirk and the District Grand King of the District Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Down, M.E.Companion, Leathem, along with their respective officers joined with the brethren of the Lodge to give thanks for 75 years of progress in masonry in Dromore, County Down.

The Lodge remains very active to this very day and sits as a testimony to the foresight of the brethren in 1922, at a time of social and political upheaval in Ireland, and to the brethren who built the hall in which we now sit and in which we have so much pride.

This potted history was compiled by W.Bro. Will Dewart - Lodge No. 521. (January 2000)