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North Munster Masonic Centre,
Castle Street,
King's Island,

Grand Master's Festival 2008 Charities

The total sum raised amounted to €660,000 and was divided equally between the three charities below.

The LauraLynn House at the Children's Sunshine Home in Sandyford opened in October 2011.
Please visit their website at www.lauralynn.ie

For further details of the charitable activities of the Grand Lodge of Ireland please click here.



In 2008, there is deep concern in Irish society surrounding the issue of suicide and particularly the level of youth suicide in our country – it seems particularly baffling during a period of peace and prosperity, that so many are in despair. This is one of the difficult aspects of a complex subject – a tremendous amount of research is ongoing worldwide to find out ways to reach out and help those who feel that suicide is their only option.  To tackle suicide effectively we must work together as a society – stigma surrounding issues of mental health, emotional distress and suicidal thought prevents many people from seeking help. Talking about how we actually feel is regarded with some suspicion – Who hasn’t automatically replied ‘Grand’ when asked ‘How are you?’ No matter how we actually feel'.                                                                                                            
International research does endorse one very effective way of helping people experiencing emotional distress – talking about feelings. It seems such a simple thing that some people are surprised the solution is not more complicated – but for almost 90% of people experiencing emotional pain – talking about feelings will alleviate the pressure they are feeling.  That is the basis of Samaritans emotional support service.  For almost 40 years in Ireland, Samaritans has been providing time and space for people to explore their feelings, in complete confidence without fear of being judged, 24 hours a day, every day. For many people, confiding in a stranger is much easier, in a small country like Ireland, the anonymity and confidentiality of Samaritans service gives callers the confidence and trust in us that is so vital in order to effectively talk about what is on your mind and find a positive way forward.

Samaritans received over half a million calls in 2006, 300,000 of these were what we describe as  ‘dialogue contacts’ – conversations and contacts where Samaritans volunteers were able to offer emotional support for people experiencing distress or suicidal thoughts. Help-lines record silent calls and hang ups as well as ‘dialogue contacts’, simply because it can take a person several attempts before they feel able to speak. Often, a caller can ring and say nothing, just simply wanting the reassurance of knowing that someone is there –and that they are not alone. 

In 2008, Samaritans will continue to offer emotional support via telephone, email and face to face, via our branch network. We will also introduce emotional support via text message – a service we anticipate will reach a huge number of young people – in a way that they feel comfortable communicating.  This ongoing work is only possible through the commitment of our volunteers and the support of organisations such as the Masons. Samaritans are always there, so that no-one ever needs to feel alone, - thank you for helping us be there.

Telephone Helpline:  1850 60 90 90 R.O.I .                 08457 90 90 90 N.I.                          

General Enquiries:     01 878 1833

E-mail Helpline:        [email protected]

Web:                    www.samaritans.org



Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice is part of Northern Ireland Hospice Care. It was established in 1998 to provide respite and end of life care to life limited children and their families.  As the only children’s hospice service in Northern Ireland it provides care across the province both in the children’s hospice at Horizon House in Belfast and in the community, in the child’s own home.

There are over 860 children with life-limiting illnesses living in Northern Ireland.  These children do not have a life expectancy of longer than 18 years and they have very special care needs.  They may suffer from life-limiting progressive illnesses such as Muscular Dystrophy or rare genetic disorders such as Batten’s Disease, or life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Such conditions require substantial and in many cases full-time round the clock care, and many of them will die before reaching adulthood.  This puts an enormous strain on family life, especially if more than one sibling is ill.  At times, families can feel overwhelmed by the situation, both emotionally and physically.

The Children’s Hospice supports some of the most vulnerable families in our community and last year Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice helped 250 of these families by providing respite and end-of-life care as well as friendship and practical support both throughout the child’s illness and into bereavement.  We want to continue to help more families and make this essential service even more accessible to those who need it most.

It costs £1.8 million every year to keep our services running so to the support of corporate partnerships are a real lifeline to us. Attached is Caitlin’s story.  You will be helping us to provide this much needed care to families across Northern Ireland. We greatly appreciate the support of the Freemasons and we look forward to working with you in 2008.

Telephone:      (028) 9077 7635

Web:              http://www.nihospicecare.com/childrens_hospice       


Our youngest daughter Laura was born with a hole in her heart, and having endured and survived six months and two serious operations in Our Lady’s Hospital, went on to have a few relatively good years, with the final surgery to come. Sadly when it did, Laura did not survive and died on 31st August 1999, aged just 4.  Lynn, on the other hand, had 13 years of perfect health until she was diagnosed with Leukaemia, the day before her younger sister passed away.  Lynn died a year and eight months later, having lost her difficult but courageous battle with her illness.

Eight and six years on, and we never thought we’d have survived, but we have - so far.  I can only speak from my own perspective, and say that the awful raw pain and emptiness does ease with time, but we miss our angels every minute of every day, and always will.  There are two choices though – you survive or you don’t, and if you do, you learn to live a different life because you must. 

Through our sadness and loss has come some good.  Having spent many years in Our Lady’s Hospital, we saw a need for respite for seriously and terminally ill children, and especially for their parents and siblings, in particular where 24 hour care is required.  Also at the end, Lynn’s greatest wish was to be able to die at home, and as that may not have been possible for one reason or other, I remember thinking after her death, there was no other choice here for someone of her age.  Thankfully in our case, Lynn got her wish and had a lovely peaceful passing at home.  But it highlighted the need for choice.  So, the LauraLynn Foundation was set up, and through the kindness and generosity of so many, it continues to go from strength to strength. 

We have merged with The Children’s Sunshine Home, who at present provide a wonderful service, with limited resources.  LauraLynn House and the new Hospice Project there will provide not only Respite and Palliative Care for the sick child, but as stated before, the respite and support and choice for parents and siblings.  Having visited Children’s Hospice in England, Scotland & Belfast, it brought home the importance of providing the same wonderful service here in Southern Ireland.

On behalf of LauraLynn, I would like to thank all in the Freemasons Society of Ireland for choosing us as one of their charities of this year.  The funds raised will make a great difference to the overall Project, and help bring us closer to our goal.

                                                                                                                               Jane McKenna - mother


Telephone:     +353 (0) 1 8210 283

Web:             www.lauralynn.ie

E-mail:           [email protected]


Contact can be made with the Provincial Grand Lodge of North Munster by e-mail to: The Provincial Grand Lodge of North Munster

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