Knappogue Castle - Co. Clare
Castle in County Clare has a long association with Freemasonry. Lord
Dunboyne was originally a member of Triune Lodge 333 in Limerick and
served as the Grand Treasurer of Grand Lodge of Ireland. In
1864, Lord Dunboyne joined the
Ennis Master Masons' Lodge 60. It
was common practice in those days that meetings were held in homes rather than dedicated buildings. Knappogue Castle was the venue
for many of these Masonic meetings. Two years later the Lodge
changed its name to 'Dunboyne Lodge No. 60'.
In the summer of 1873,
a social function that was held in Knappogue Castle
received widespread coverage in local and national newspapers.
Although transportation of the day was very limited, members came from
all parts of the country. Most of the visitors arrived via the local
railway station (Ballycar) and were subsequently ferried to the castle
by a fleet of jaunting cars. Because it
was primarily a social occasion most of the members were accompanied
by their wives and family. The total number of visitors swelled to
While the members held
their meeting in the castle, the ladies and other invited guests
perambulated the magnificent gardens which were planted with many rare
and exotic species that had been imported from the colonies.
One of the star
novelties of the day was the taking of photographs which was still
very new to Ireland. A photographer from Limerick was at his wits end
to cater for all the requests from individuals, groups and even entire
lodges who wanted their photographs taken in their regalia. This
attraction was further complicated by the inclement weather. With each
shower of rain the queues for those 'indoor activities' lengthened.
all plans for outdoor sports had to be abandoned. The evening
concluded with a ball in the marquee at Knappogue Castle, where guests
danced quadrilles and waltzes to the music of the Clare Militia Band.
The event was
reported in the Limerick Chronicle on the 10th July 1873 as
Yesterday will be long regarded as
a rubrical day in the memory of the Masonic fraternity, their wives
and families, in the district of North Munster.
The castle consists of an
eleventh-century fortalice with modern additions, and the name it
bears is confirmatory of a now established fact that the Celtic races
gave to natural objects the most descriptive nomenclature. Knappogue
(if our Irish interpreter was not tripping) means a collection of
hillocks closely clustering together as almost to kiss each other,
hence Knappogue, and no appellation could be more close to nature.
The grounds are thickly but
judiciously planted with trees and ornamental shrubs, among which we
noticed some fine specimens of variegated holly, cedars of Lebanon,
beech, mountain ash, oak, but principally larch, which always makes a
habitat where its brethren of the field or glade would require a more
On entering the grounds about one
o'clock, there were evidence on all sides of approaching festivity. A
large marquee was erected on the lawn, and servants were to be
observed busy in applying the culinary art. The Royal Standard
unfurled its folds to a gentle breeze at a convenient distance - the
Jack (red-crossed) - held a coigne of vantage on the `Clock Tower',
and over the main entrance, the banner of the ancient house of Butler
or Fitzwalter, with its lions rampant and scallop shells -
remembrances of Holy Land pilgrimages - was displayed. The croquet
lawn was in readiness, and the band of the Clare Militia discoursed
marches, quadrilles, mazurkas and waltzes on the greensward.
When the entire party had
assembled, warning was given to Brethren, by the sounding of a Chinese
gong, that the Provincial Grand Lodge was about to transact business.
Lord Dunboyne's library, which is filled with many curious works of
art, was fitted up as Lodge Room. His lordship took his seat on the
Throne with the usual Masonic honours. Those present included Brother
Wilson acting as Provincial Grand Secretary; John Hill, SW; Alexander
Rowland, JW; Henry Sikes, SD; Rev Dr Mangan, JD; Rev J. McMahon,
Chaplain; Isaac Banks, IG; Rev W F Seymour Tyler. The nine Lodges
represented were 13, *50, 73, 135, 250, 268, 201, 202 and 333.
While the Provincial Grand Lodge
were in sederunt, the ladies availed themselves of the privilege
kindly accorded by Lord Dunboyne of viewing the interior of the
castle, the most curious feature of which is perhaps the spiral
staircase which ascends the old `Keep' from basement to turret, where
warders in less happy times than ours kept `watch and ward' while the
mailed Barons held feudal state below.
The shields of the successive
descendants of the Butlers hang in the hall and were inspected with
keen curiosity by the guests of the noble owner. Ourselves delighted
chiefly to linger in the portrait and miniature rooms, where, if we
remember rightly, we saw portraits of `Bold Butlers' clothed in steel
of the ante-gunpowder epoch, interspersed with maternal Baronesses
robed and enamelled with pearls.
Among modern efforts, the portraits
of Lord and Lady Dunboyne are very fine specimens. Nothing could
exceed the courtesy of Lord Dunboyne, his daughter, the Hon. Miss
Butler, and his son, the Hon. Theobald Butler, in their assiduity and
attention to their guests, proving that they thoroughly appreciated
the sentiment that in honouring others we honour ourselves. Lady
Dunboyne was evidently an interested spectator of the gay scene from
Note: *This was a typographical error that appeared in the
Limerick Chronicle - this entry should have read lodge 60 and not
News from 2013
To mark the installation of one of the founding
members of Harp and Crown Lodge Number 60 in the Chair for 2013, the Lodge travelled
from its home in Ballymena, Co Antrim, to Limerick for its annual
installation of officers in April 2013.
A visit was made to
Knappogue Castle to mark the occasion. The party, which
numbered about 60, included the Provincial Grand Masters of Antrim
and North Munster together with a number of the members' wives.
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