The Grand Lodge opens to the public for the first time as Freemasons celebrate three hundred years in Dublin.

For the first time ever the Grand Lodge of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland have opened up their hall to members of the public to display an exhibition on the development of Freemason Lodges in Dublin. The exhibition ‘Freemasonry in Dublin 1688-1988’ is on show to members of the public in Freemasons’ Hall in Molesworth Street, the headquarters of Irish Freemasonry.

The exhibition explains some of the theories of origin of Freemasonry and the development of the order in Dublin from the earliest reference to a Lodge of Freemasons in Trinity College in 1688 to the establishment of the Grand Lodge in 1725. 

The display includes an historical tableau of Masonic initiations, regalia and the jewels and signs of office worn by the 45,000 Freemasons in Ireland.

There will be regular tours of four of the Masonic rooms. The Grand Lodge room is decorated with pictures of the former grand masters is where master masons meet. Those who proceed beyond craft masonry, learn the secrets of the Royal Arch and that room is decorated in an Egyptian style. 

The room of the Knights Templar resembles a medieval Christian chapel although Catholics are still forbidden becoming members. In 1983 Vatican document barred Catholic Freemasons from receiving communion, on the basis that Freemasonry is incompatible with Catholicism.

Charles Horton of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons says that,

Freemasonry is most definitely not a religion, the impression that it was may have occurred sometime in the past but today it most definitely is not.

He points out that the Catholic Church never differentiated between Freemasonry on continental Europe and in Ireland and England and while there are similarities there are also very great differences.

Freemasonry in Ireland is open to all men who express a belief in god, we don’t ask them exactly how they expressly their faith, it’s none of our business, it’s up to their conscience.

The exhibition will run from June until October 1988.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 3 June 1988. The reporter is Kieron Wood.