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, 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)