THE Freemasons have been part of Kilkenny life for generations. For the last 47 years, the “Brethern” have been located on the first floor of St Mary’s Church, off High Street, Kilkenny.
Lodge No 642 is a beautiful chamber, full of colourful banners and insignia, yet few have ever seen it. The Freemasons have relinquished their legal rights on St Mary’s and will move to another old building, beside the Maltings on Tilbury Place, off James’s Street which has been purchased for them by the borough Council for a substantial six figure sum.
The move is necessary because there are comprehensive plans to renovate St Mary’s Church and turn it into a museum-exhibition space to house historic collections of national significance.
The Freemasons established here 1785 and until 1963 were located in what is now one of the best restaurants in the country, Rinuccini’s on The parade.
The Kilkenny lodge is part of the St Provincial Grand Lodge of South Eastern Counties and at it’s last public event, organised an auction for two local charities. It’s a men only institution with secret handshakes and certain things which remain hidden from the public, while the Freemasons is ultimately an organisation set up for the greater good. It has been unfairly tarnished for its traditions.
Part of the reason for that may be because an accepted candidate for the order becomes a member in a number of stages, or ‘Degrees’ which are accompanied by traditional and colourful ceremonies. These are for the most part historic and just part of the pageantry with nothing sinister whatsoever in them. During each Degree, a man is required to make a solemn promise never to reveal certain matters that are to be communicated to him. From this fact stems what is known as Masonic secrecy, which has caused the order so many problems.