A visit to Ely House, the headquarters of the Order of Knights of Saint Columbanus.

The order of Catholic laymen known as the Knights of Saint Columbanus began in Belfast in 1915 as an offshoot of the local conference of Saint Vincent de Paul. 

In 1923 the Order acquired Ely House on Ely Place in Dublin and it has served as its headquarters ever since. The building is an important example of Dublin's Georgian architectural and cultural history.

Deputy Supreme Knight Vincent Gallagher explains the Order of Knights of Saint Columbanus is an exclusive order of Catholic men that has 4,000 members across the 32 counties of Ireland. To become a member of the Order,

The first basic requirement is that they must be practising Catholics.

Women are not part of the membership because

Our rules are such that it is a male organisation.

The Deputy Supreme Knight says a list of members of The Order of Knights of Saint Columbanus could be requested from the Supreme Secretary. If agreed at the executive meeting, the membership list could be revealed. However he cannot think of a situation where the disclosure of this list would be justified.

Supreme Knight James Eccles discusses the influence the Order has on legislation and why they feel entitled to make statements on issues such as divorce, contraception and the effects of television on children.

If we see anything which we think is immoral, unjust, we feel that we are entitled to bring it to the notice of the public.

The Order spends time and money and time helping charities, the clergy and anyone in trouble regardless of colour or creed.

Our programme is, help those people who are less fortunate than ourselves.

This episode of 'Summerhouse’ was broadcast on 29 July 1980. The reporter is Vincent Hanley.