Who do You Think You Are – Dublin Orangemen 1916!

Genealogy is a fascinating subject and has the capacity to provide you with a glimpse of the past. For families, it provides the line from past to future generations and for society, it has the capacity to reflect changes which happen through historical and socio economic circumstances.

From a tourism perspective Genealogy is big business with many individuals all over the world spending time and money investigating their past. They have also been the subject of TV shows particularly closer to home with popular personalities having the chance to delve into their family tree.

An article on 1916 in Dublin appeared in a recent edition of your publication. While this year in the calendar in Dublin is noted for the Easter Rising, readers may be interested to know that the County Dublin Grand Orange Lodge met 9 times that year in the Grand Orange Hall of Ireland in Rutland Square, Dublin.

The County Grand Master at the time was Valentine Henry Fleming, a 36 year old carpenter and foreman. He was from Co. Cavan, a member of the Church of Ireland and was married to Jasmina, a 33 year old from Co. Tyrone. Valentine was a Past Master of LOL No. 1682 (John R. Fowler Lodge) in Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire). This Lodge met on the Orange Hall, York Road.

My own village of Rathmines is one of the older suburbs of Dublin and would have supported a majority protestant population at the time. The local LOL No. 1505 met at the Protestant Hall, Upper Rathmines Road. The Grand Master was George Lyster. George was aged 44 and was a master plumber. He was from Dublin and was married to Joan from Co. Wexford. They had three children, Samuel, Victoria and Hector, aged 11, 10 and 8 respectively. The family were all Church of Ireland members.

The Chaplain was Rev. James Hawthornthwaite who lived in No. 1 Palmerston Villas. He lives with his wife Henrietta and two daughters Aithna and Constance and had the luxury of two domestic servants.

The Secretary was Frederick Kerr who lived in Bloomfield Avenue off the South Circular Road. He was a 36 year old clerk from Co. Louth and was married to Maria who was two years younger. They had three children, Frederick Jnr., Florence and Constance aged 15, 9 and 5 respectively. All were Church of Ireland members.

Finally, the Treasurer was Samuel Henry (a Past Master of the Lodge). Samuel was a 66 year old Linen Merchant and a member of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. He lived in Kenilworth Square in Rathgar and was married to Elizabeth and they had no children.

The Hall in which they gathered is still based in Upper Rathmines Road and is in use today as a Gospel Hall. It was opened in November 1890 as the ‘Orange and Protestant Hall’. At the time it was reported that “Too much credit cannot be given to the Rathmines Brethern for the energy they have displayed.”

The Census for Ireland in 1911 is being placed on-line and provides a valuable tool in genealogical searches. The entire census is being digitised and County Dublin is available free online. Counties Kerry, Antrim and Down will be available soon and will provide a valuable tool for anyone searching for their family tree.

As a final postscript, the Grand Lodge of Dublin was due to meet on 25 April 1916, the day after the commencement of the Easter Rising. Now the minutes of that meeting would be interesting!

*This article originally appeared in the Orange Standard March 2009