The Provincial Grand Lodge Hall at 15 Rosemary Street in the centre of Belfast is the Headquarters of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim.

 

Antrim is the largest Province in the Irish Constitution.

 

There are 193 Lodges with a total membership of around 7,500.

 

Meetings are held in 42 Masonic Halls, three of which are in Belfast: Arthur Square, Crumlin Road and Ligoniel. 

 

The others are in  Antrim, Ballintoy, Ballinderry, Ballycarry, Ballycastle, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Broomhedge, Broughshane, Bucknaw, Bushmills, Cairncastle, Carareagh, Carnlough,  Carrickfergus, Chatham Hall, Clough, Cogry, Crumlin, Cullybackey, Derriaghy, Doagh, Glenarm, Islandmagee, Kells, Larne, Lisburn, Moyarget, Parkgate, Portglenone, Portrush, Randalstown, Straid, Templepatrick, The Vow (Ballymoney) and Whiteabbey. 

 

 

Historical Context

 

In the early days of the 18th Century communication between Dublin and the rest of Ireland was slow, irksome and inconvenient.  Travel between the Capital City and other major towns was done largely by coach which was costly and often irregular.  The mail coach journey between Belfast and Dublin took 3 days and often much longer in winter.  As a result Lodges were, by necessity, largely independent and worked in accordance with their own ideas.  Committees were established between Lodges in order to achieve some regularity and uniformity in their observance of the Laws and Regulations.  Only matters deemed to be of primary importance were submitted to Grand Lodge for approval.

 

This system operated over several years until the report of Grand Lodge dated 27th December 1828 indicated coming changes.  This was indeed the first official intimation that changes in the government of the Order were going to be implemented - that the old system was about to make way for a completely new one.

 

The instructions issued were as follows :-

 

"His Grace, the Grand Master, will appoint, on the recommendation of Grand Lodge, Provincial Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Lodges for such Counties or Districts as may, in the opinion of  Grand Lodge, require such establishments for the better government of the Craft."

 

Very little happened until 1833 when the Brethren of the Northern District of County Antrim, under the leadership of the Rev. Walter Bishop Mant M.A., Archdeacon of Connor, won the approval of Grand Lodge to form the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cary and Dunluce - a geographical area that was approximately 18 miles by 12 miles.  It covered the north coast between Ballycastle and Portrush and extended southward to Dervock, Stranocum and Armoy.

 

The first Provincal Grand Lodge was formed.

 

Today 12 Provincial Grand Lodges are in operation covering: Antrim, Armagh, North Connaught, South Connaught, Down, Londonderry & Donegal, Meath, Midland Counties, Munster, North Munster, South Eastern, Tyrone & Fermanagh, Wicklow & Wexford.

 

 


 

 

 

The future of Rosemary Street 

 

The Luke Mural in Provincial Grand Lodge Hall 

In the current economic climate and with ongoing rising costs it has become more difficult to maintain the hall as a viable proposition and Lodges are now generally accommodated in Arthur Square hall. Consideration is being given to the future of the hall and apart from selling this historic part of Masonry in Belfast, other alternatives are being sought in order to maintain it as a Masonic Hall.

 

 


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