Lodge History

Acknowledgement:   The following is an extract from " The History of Iris Masonic Lodge No.444 of Irish Constitution 1918-2005", compiled by W. Bro. Tom Russell.


The Warrant The Lodge The Dedication

The Warrant

The history of the Warrant of Masonic Lodge Number 444 predates the foundation of Iris in 1918 by more than 150 years, for on 6 February 1766, it was issued to a Lodge in Ballyshannon, Co Kildare.   From that date its history is somewhat chequered:  on 4 June 1801, permission was granted on a memorial of  the two surviving members and three others to remove the Warrant to Kilcullen Bridge which is on the River Liffey, still in Co Kildare.   It is not clear what happened then, but in the summer of 1811, a petition to revive 444 in Naas was rejected and Warrant No. 993 was issued instead.    In September 1811, Lodge No 993 was requested to send up Warrant No 444 as it was 'in improper hands'.    

The Warrant was subsequently cancelled on 6 July 1815.

The next milestone in its travels reveals that it was issued again in Kilcullen on 4 July 1816, only to be cancelled in July 1825.    Dispensation was granted to Matlock, Victoria on 18 December 1865 but the warrant was not issued and it remained unused until it was granted to Iris Lodge at Mountpottinger, Belfast on 8 October 1918.


Click thumbnail for larger image






The Lodge

The new Lodge came about when 25 members of Groomsport Lodge No 337, finding that train restrictions during the latter months of the Great War, and the extra expenses involved in travelling to Groomsport, were proving onerous, determined to set up a new lodge to meet in Belfast.

The earliest recorded meeting of the committee set up to pursue this aim was held at the Mount on Thursday 25 April 1918, with five Brethren present - Brothers Walter Salter, Ernest A Young, Charles P Knight, Frank Pedley, and Alfred H Coley.   It was minuted: 

"After a thorough inspection and enquiries from the House Steward regarding the available nights and facilities for the Social Board etc, the Committee expressed themselves satisfied and decided to recommend them at the next General Meeting".

The next meeting was held on 9 May and a recommendation made for the proposed Officers.   The question of Stated Communications was raised and it was recommended that they would be held on 3rd Thursday in the month.   It was also suggested that the Lodge be called ‘St George’ with an Annual Subscription of two Guineas (£2.2s.0d - £2.10) to be paid quarterly.   This was followed by a General Meeting on 16 May when it was finally decided that Communications should take place on 4th Tuesday of the month.   It appears that it was necessary to elect the Officers in order to complete the memorial for the Warrant and this was duly carried out at this meeting.   Brother A E Young informed the meeting that the name ‘St George’ as adopted at the previous meeting was not available owing to there being another Lodge with that name in the district.  He therefore proposed that the Lodge be styled ‘The Iris’ and this was passed.  There is no record of why this name was chosen although it is known that the Iris was a ferry boat operating on the Mersey for service between Liverpool and Seacombe, Egremont and New Brighton.

The next step was to obtain the Deputations for support necessary before an application for a Warrant could be made and at meetings of Meredith Lodge No 380, Freedom Lodge No 394 and Suidhe Lodge No 355 representations were made and duly passed giving the support of these Lodges.  Thus it was that Iris Lodge made application for a Warrant to Provincial Grand Lodge on 14 June and subsequently to Grand Lodge on 8 July 1918, along with a cheque for £10 (some things never change!); the Warrant was granted on 8 October 1918.    It is interesting that in acknowledging receipt, the Secretary elect asked for a résumé of the history of the Warrant; what was sent was a little at variance with the opening paragraphs of this history, but in essence it confirmed most of the information.

The last meeting of the Committee was held in the Mount on 10 October 1918 when, inter alia, it was agreed to write to the Provincial Grand Master to request that the Dedication ceremony be held in January 1919, the postponement being made “in the hope that hostilities would have ceased and the alteration to the Suidhe Club would have been completed to enable the Ceremony to be held in our own Lodge Room”   Until then the Brethren would meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month for rehearsal.


The Dedication

The Dedication of the Lodge was held on 14 February 1919 in Freemasons’ hall, 107 The Mount, led by the Provincial Deputy Grand Master of  the Masonic Province of Down, Right Worshipful Brother J D Williamson, M.D, J.P. who also installed the Officers as follows:

 Worshipful Master       Walter Salter *

Senior Warden            Charles P Knight

Junior Warden             Frank T Pedley

Senior Deacon             Alfred H Coley

Junior Deacon             R Gledhill

Inner Guard                 C E Harwood

Treasurer                     T G D’Arcy **

Secretary                     E Young

 * W M of Lodge 337 in 1916     ** W M of Lodge 337 in 1919

Presumably some of the Officers were absent on this occasion as can be seen from the list of Founders and Officers included in the Ceremony of Constitution that was used and is reproduced below.

At this Communication five candidates were proposed for Initiation and five for Affiliation.  

Click thumbnail for larger image

Click thumbnail for larger image