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

Gold Watch Returns Home
Retirement gift made to R.W. Bro Michael Furnell in 1863.


Mr. 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.

Presented by 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 Universe.

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.

Thanking you.

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 Imke.





To make arrangements to view this artefact or indeed any other item in our museum, please contact:

The Provincial Grand Lodge of North Munster

North Munster Masonic Centre

Castle Street

King's Island




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