150 Years of Working

Having made the decision to revive 77, the Lodge set about purchasing its own implements and regular entries to minutes record this up to 1810. During this period Freemasonry in Newry was in an extremely flourishing condition, 77 itself admitted no fewer than ninety-six new members of whom forty-nine were registered in Grand Lodge.

Membership however rapidly fell throughout Freemasonry in the period up to 1824. The Catholic Church debarred members of that faith from becoming Freemasons which affected over half the membership of Lodge 77. Also, from May 1823 to November 1824 all meetings of Grand Lodge were suspended in consequence of an Act for the suppression of certain societies in Ireland. Many members fell away during this time who did not afterwards return. By the end of 1824 there were only fourteen subscribing members on the roll of 77.

The Lodge continued to meet diligently but membership struggled from 1827 to 1850 with an average of 8 members on the roll. New members were initiated regularly during this period but withdrew quickly, possibly due to the high rates of emigration at that time.

The 1840’s were a particular struggle for 77 with five members keeping the Lodge alive. Robert McCurdy, Daniel McCartan, John McNeale, Henry Johnston and John McGarry between them filled all the Offices for nearly ten years. The names of these Brethren are worth remembering with affection and gratitude.

The Lodge however became reinvigorated from 1850 onwards with the installation of William Sutherland Fraser Murray as Master and many new members being registered with Grand Lodge.

1852 saw the Lodge move to a new meeting place, Grand Lodge having recommended that Lodges no longer meet in public houses or taverns. Permission was sought from Lodge 18 to share their meeting room in Mill Street, which was duly granted with a yearly rent of £3. Lodge 77 continued to flourish and the period 1854-1870 saw 108 new members registered with Grand Lodge.

1853 saw the Lodge move again to meet in Mr Henry Wright’s and shortly afterwards to the old hall in Hill Street which it shared with Lodge 23. This arrangement was interrupted for a short period in 1879 when 77 moved to the Atheneum Assembly Rooms in Hill Street and later in rooms of Lodge 18 in the Savings Bank. This was partly due to an outbreak of fever in the premises and partly to a dispute with the owner. All differences were amicably settled, however, and a reunion supper with Lodge 23 was held in January 1880, with extensive renovations to the Hall taking place in 1884.

The issue of a new Masonic Hall for the town of Newry was discussed for many years before the current Hall in Downshire Road was built and dedicated on 8th November 1887. Lodge 77 had already held its first meeting in the new Hall on 3rd October.

1887 was a very important year for Lodge 77 as on 27th December it celebrated 150 years in existence. A special communication of the Lodge was held on this date to celebrate and eminent Freemason Bro. Francis Clements Crossle was installed as Worshipful Master. At this meeting Bro. Crossle gave an eloquent historical address on the rise and progress of Lodge 77.

Modern Times