Gold Watch Returns Home
Retirement gift made to R.W. Bro Michael Furnell in 1863.
Ton Fransen and his wife Sylvia from Loenersloot, Holland paid
a special visit to the Provincial Grand Lodge of North Munster
on Saturday 18th February, 2007 to keep a promise made to
his father many years ago.
The purpose of the
visit was to return a gold watch that had come into his
fatherís possession almost 37 years ago and which had a Masonic
origin in Limerick. The half hunter style gold pocket watch
was originally presented to R. W. Brother Michael Furnell on
his retirement in 1863.
R.W. Brother Furnell was the first
Provincial Grand Master of North Munster and served in that office
from 1842 to 1863. Also included in the presentation box was
the original Provincial Grand Master's Apron Badge of R.W.
Brother Furnell and a Masonic Calendar and Directory from 1856. R.W.
Brother Furnell was the instigator of the annual Calendar
and Directory in 1844.
Pictured here during the
presentation of the gold watch are (from the left): Provincial
Deputy Grand Master R.W. Jack Mitchell, Mrs. Sylvia Fransen,
Mr. Ton Fransen, Provincial Grand Master R.W. Hugh Milne, Past
Provincial Grand Master R.W. Kenneth Brislane and Past
Provincial Grand Master R.W. Geoffrey Ashton. (All officers
are from the Provincial Grand Lodge of North Munster. Click on
the photograph to see an enlargement.)
When presenting the
watch, Mr Fransen made the following very moving address:
Honourable Grand Master and Brethren.
We feel proud and satisfied that you allow us to fulfil our
obligations towards our father/ father in law, who passed away
about 10 years ago.
It was in the beginning of 1970 that my father was able to lay
hands on a remarkable golden watch. His attention to this
watch was drawn by the engraving on the back, reading.
the Masonic Lodges of North-Munster to the R. W. Brother
Furnell 33 degree on his resignation from illness, after 20
years devoted services & care as P.G.M. June 1863.
My father felt obliged to do the necessary research and after
the first contacts with the 13th lodge in Limerick
in February 1979 it became clear to him that this golden watch
should return to the place where it belongs to; and that
should be near the Baalís Bridge Bronze Square in Limerick.
As was mentioned in one of my earlier communications with the
Provincial Grand Master Mr Hugh Milne, and also in one of the
letters of my father at that time; is it not a wonder that
after travelling for more than 100 years, again, this jewel
has found a place in its freemasonsí home?
For reasons unknown to us, the communication in 1982 came to
an end, letters remained unanswered and were returned as
undeliverable. Of course, communication was difficult at that
time, and there were worries in my family. A replacement
family home had to be found for my sister, his very much loved
only daughter, who was a "child of God" and could therefore
not look after her-self. The first signs of Alzheimer were
appearing with his wife, my mother. Perhaps this might be the
cause, I do not know, but it remained always clear to him and
later also to us that this jewel with such a remarkable and
emotional value should never end up as a collectorís item or
as an investment in the hands of a non Mason.
It is therefore that my wife Sylvia and I are here in this
mighty Masonic place to hand-over to you and to lay for
eternal display the golden watch of Mr. Michael Furnell.
As soon as Lodge13 in Limerick came to know that the watch of
Mr. Furnell was recovered; a Masonic calendar and a decoration
both belonging to Mr. Furnell were send to my parents place.
As tradition required, these items have remained together,
where-ever they were, or how ever long it took.
After the death of my father in 1994 and the death of my
mother in 1998, the items remained with our family, and were
kept in a safe place waiting to be returned to Limerick. That
moment has come now.
My father and my mother both were Masons. They were members of
the Christiaan Rozenkreuz society in Hilversum Holland, of
which my father was the "Voorzittend Meester" for some time.
Our presence here now, is accompanied by the warm Masonic
greetings for all of you, by the "Voorzittend Meester" of this
moment, Mrs. Holthuis- Ruhe, of the earlier mentioned lodge.
It is true, that when mankind lives on the way of the Square
neither the Spirit, nor the Material will be lost, when we
seek the way shown to us by the Great Architect of the
As both my father and my mother were highly spiritual people,
we are sure that while working on "Kings Solomonís Temple"
their spirits are with us now on this very special moment in
Limerick; and we just want to ask them with all our respect
"OK Dad, OK Mam"!!!
Please accept this wooden box and take good care of the
contents. The compass and the square on the cover were carried
by my father and after his death by me in our purses, for
almost half a century. They will add a bit of the "Fransen"
family to this presentation.
Ton A. Fransen
To maintain the links, Mr Arjen Fransen visited the North
Munster Masonic Centre Museum on Sunday, 21st April 2013.
He expressed himself satisfied that the items are held in
high esteem. Mr Fransen, son of Mr and Mrs Ton and
Sylvia Fransen, is Captain of the Dutch-registered ship, MV
To make arrangements to view this artefact or indeed any
other item in our museum, please contact:
The Provincial Grand Lodge of North
North Munster Masonic Centre