AN ORANGE ‘INSTITUTION
Notes on the Trinity College Orange Lodge
The first reference to an orange presence in Trinity College comes very early in the life of the Orange Institution. In 1798 470 Warrant numbers were listed, the vast majority having no details, but among their number was Loyal Orange Lodge no. 438. Noted as meeting in the County of Dublin in the District of Trinity College, its membership was given as 78 Brethren. The founder of the lodge in 1796 is alleged to have been Lieutenant Colonel William Blacker of County Armagh, who had been present at the Battle of the Diamond. At a special Grand Lodge meeting in September 1835 a fellow of Trinity the Rev. Charles Boyton, a Grand Chaplin and prominent in the Protestant Conservative Society, stated that it had ceased working within the University in 1809.
In the 1823 register of Lodges no listing is given for LOL 438, but in 1824 a new warrant number 1558 was issued for Trinity College Lodge. On the 13th October 1828 in the Freemasons Hall, 19 Dawson Street, a meeting was held to re-establish the Lodge. The opening page of its minute book defined it as Royal Orange Lodge 1558, and the Lodge’s official title was Trinity College District Orange Lodge under Worshipful Master John Patterson.
The moment that elevated the Lodge from a normal private lodge to a higher status came the following year. On the 12th May 1829 the Grand Lodge of Ireland issued the resolution ‘that in consideration of the great services rendered by Trinity College District to the Orange Institution, it should have the privilege of a County Grand Lodge’.
One of the most notable members of the lodge in the 1830’s was Isaac Butt. The Donegal born Protestant entered Trinity College at the age of 15 and while President of the College Historical Society in 1833 and a founder/ editor of the Dublin University magazine, he became both a fervent Orangeman and Unionist, and an active opponent of Daniel O’Connell before a political conversion.
Reports on the Lodge of behaviour perhaps more identified with students came in 1841 when a group of Trinity College Orangemen were reported as having attended the Theatre Royal Dublin, and from the ‘pit’ caused considerable disruption by continually shouting for ‘Peel’, ‘The King of Hanover’ and ‘Stanley’, and giving repeated renditions of ‘Kentish Fire’. Said to be well-dressed but half drunken, their enthusiasm was directed at Earl de Gray who had recently arrived in Ireland as Lord Lieutenant.
In 1848 Grand Lodge gave leave for the renewal of an older Dublin Warrant number to be reissued to Stewart Blacker, and permission to transfer it to the District of Trinity College Dublin. In 1834 Blacker had originally been granted Loyal Orange Lodge 1483 for a Dublin Lodge, and named it Luther because it was also the year of the birth of Martin Luther.
Unsurprisingly several public events and pronouncements regarding the evils of Home Rule were the primary manifestation of lodge activity in the late 19th and early 20th century. In November 1906 it adopted and issued the resolution that, ‘Trinity College Grand Orange Lodge in Lodge assembled, knowing the ruination to the wealth, commerce, industry and general welfare which must inevitably follow any measure- no matter how small- of Home Rule for this country- are hereby determined to use very lawful means in their power to frustrate schemes of Home Rule…’
The Lodge went into abeyance circa the Great War period but was once again reinvented in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s by a young Londonderry born student, Desmond Boal also became its first Worshipful Master after reformation. The 1960’s saw all of Dublin Orangeism go into steep decline, and the Trinity Lodge was no exception, ceasing to operate in 1966. In June 2018 those fortunes were reversed, and permission was granted by Grand lodge to resurrect the Trinity College Grand Orange Lodge. Trinity College Loyal Orange Lodge is once again functioning, and is poised to go from strength to strength.
Article Supplied by historian Quincey Dougan