History - 1961 to 1986

Cyril F. A. Quigley F.C.A, Most Excellent District Grand King, Antrim


District Grand King C. F. A. Quigley, F.C.A.

District Deputy Grand King Thomas Hunter

District Assistant Grand King W. J. Overend

District Grand High Priest H. McC. Morrison

District Grand Chief Scribe W. J. Montgomery, J.P.

District Grand Treasurer N. G. White, F.C.A.

Distraict Grand Registrar T. J. Fenning, F.S.V.A.

District Assistant Grand Registrar D. J. Long

District Grand Chaplain *Rev. T. Carlisle, M.A.

District Grand Chaplain Rev. A. S. Hofmeester, M.A.

District Grand Chaplain Rev. W. J. Watson

District Grand C. of H. James Laird

District Grand S. of T. Ernest Foster

District Grand R.A.C. James C. McCord

District Grand C.S.V. Harold C. Pollock

District Grand C. P.V. Kenneth Lewis

District Grand C.B.V. Henry Gilmore

District Grand D. of C. William Mcllwaine

District Grand D. of C. William McKelvey

District Grand D. of C. N. J. Black

District Grand Steward S. A. Moore

District Grand Steward Albert E. Smith

District Grand Organist George A. Beattie, F.H.C.I.

District Grand Organist Albert McCartney, L.R.A.M.,L.T.C.L., A.R.C.M.

District Grand Organist John D. Adams

District Grand Standard Bearer Robert J. Witherspoon

District Grand King's Standard Bearer Clarence Bamford

District Grand Janitor                                    *James Coburn

District Grand Inspector                               Gordon Wilson

District Grand Inspector                               John Marsden

District Grand Inspector                               W. J. Overend

District Grand Inspector                               Richard Robinson

District Grand Inspector                               Harold Ross

District Grand Inspector                               William C. Colhoun

District Grand Inspector                               H. S. Gorman

District Grand Inspector                               William McKelvey

District Grand Inspector                               William Mcllwaine

District Grand Inspector                               John L. Hogg

District Grand Inspector                               I. D. Fleming

District Grand Inspector                               W. Jackson

District Grand Inspector                               T. W. Grant

District Grand Inspector                               Thomas Frame

District Grand Inspector                               Roland Lynar

District Grand Inspector                               Joseph Mcllveen


     *Deceased 1986



Following the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary on 25th and 26th February 1961 the District Grand Chapter was in a very healthy and satisfactory state.

M.Ex. Comp. Donald McCaughey was in his sixth year as District Grand King. Antrim was (and still is) the largest District Grand Chapter in the British Isles. It had then 131 Royal Arch Chapters and 7480 Companions. R.Ex. Comp. Kenneth MacCormac was District Grand Registrar (acting) since R.Ex. Comp. James Hamilton had been appointed R.Ex. District Deputy Grand King following the resignation of R.Ex. Comp. James McFerran.

The M.Ex. District Grand King presented Jewels of Office to be worn by the D.G. Treasurer and D.G. Registrar.

A new District Grand Chapter Banner, an anonymous gift, was dedicated at the January Convocation in 1962.

 In the Report of Supreme Grand Chapter for 1963, in the section dealing with The Grand Chapter of Instruction details were given of a well attended meeting when Ex. Comp. Wm. Mcllwaine and Com-panions of Chapter 536 gave a demonstration of the Mark and Royal Arch Installations and were sincerely thanked.

At the June Convocation held in the Cathedral Hall, Lisburn on 8th June 1964 M.Ex. Comp. Donald McCaughey who had been District Grand King since 1955, intimated his resignation on his appointment as Prior of the Provincial Priory of East Ulster.

The following Resolution of Appreciation was proposed and adopted:—

"The District Grand Chapter of Antrim learns with very much regret the resignation of our District Grand King M.Ex. Comp. Donald McCaughey J.P.

It records with gratitude the valuable services rendered and the zeal with which he has discharged all his important duties, during the past nine years. His charming personality won for him the affection of all his Companions.

The present high standing of the District Grand Chapter is a fitting testimonial to his work during his tenure of office. We desire to assure him that in leaving his official position, he takes with him our individual and collective respect and affection, and our sincere good wishes that his health will permit him having many happy years in his new office."

The Most Excellent and Supreme Grand King appointed M.Ex. Comp. James Hamilton to be District Grand King and installed him on 31st October 1964 and subsequently a very distinguished company of some 242 Companions sat down to Dinner.

V.Ex. Comp. W. W. Preston was appointed District Deputy Grand King and installed on the same evening, the M.Ex. District Grand King said knowing the esteem and affection in which V.Ex. Comp. Preston is held by his many friends in the District he was quite satisfied that with his assistance the District Grand Chapter would continue to flourish.

R.Ex. Companion W. Norman H. Robb, the then District Grand High Priest was heartily congratulated on his apppointment as Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Antrim. His interest in Royal Arch Masonry never waned and he was a regular attender at the meetings of District Grand Chapter, even the out-of-town meetings.

Down the years the District has always been well represented in the work of the Grand Chapter of Instruction in exemplifications, demonstrations, etc. and names that appear from time to time are V.Ex. Comp. Jas. Cathcart, V.Ex. Comp. Wm. Mcllwaine, R.Ex. Comp. W. W. Preston and M.Ex. Comp. F. W. Irwin.

R.A.C. No. 111 demonstrated the Mark Master Mason°, Chapters 1012 & 253 the Royal Arch°, Chapter 536 in 1962 and again in 1965, gave demonstrations. Crumlin Road Class exemplified in Dublin. At an Installation Ceremony of the Mark and Royal Arch, demonstrated in Rosemary Street the Installing Officer was the late Ex. Comp. Wm. McKelvey, who was supported by a splendid team in which the McKelvey family was well represented — Father, 2 sons and a son-in-law.

A Class of Instruction was formed in 1969 in Finaghy the leaders being Ex. Comp. W. McBride, Ex. Comp. R. J. W. Harvey and Ex. Comp. Topping.

Teams from Chapter 573 assisted on several occasions. A Class of Instruction was formed in 1978 in Whiteabbey with Class Leader Wm. McKelvey, Assistant Class Leaders V.Ex. Comp. J. D. K. Beattie and E. Comp. H. S. Gorman, and the class demonstrated the M.M.M.° in 1979. Other Chapters demonstrating included R.A.C.'s 461, 353, 513 and 54.

District Grand Chapter suffered a great loss through the death of M.Ex. District  Grand King on 25th February 1968. M.Ex. Comp. Jas. Hamilton had given outstanding and devoted service to the District Grand Chapter. Before becoming District Grand King in 1964 he had held the offices of District Grand High Priest, District Grand Inspector, District Grand Treasurer, District Grand Registrar and District Deputy Grand King, a record of service which may never be equalled.

            R.Ex. Comp. John Barrie, District Grand Treasurer died on 20th January 1969 after a long illness. He was District Grand Chief Scribe in 1942 and was elected Treasurer in 1952. He served the District Grand Chapter faithfully and well. R.E. Comp. C. F. A. Quigley who had been Auditor since 1960, and who from 1965 to 1968 had acted as

 AssistantGrand Treasurer was appointed District Grand Treasurer.

M.Ex. Comp. W. W. Preston J.P., B.A. was appointed District Grand King and Installed on 27th October 1969. Owing to the serious illness of the late M.Ex. Comp. Hamilton, M.Ex. Comp. Preston had been carrying out the duties of District Grand King, the start of an outstanding reign lasting up to 1984. R.E. Comp. H. A. Frazer M.Sc., J.P. was appointed District Deputy Grand King but on his appointment as H. & V.E. Prior of the Priory of East Ulster he resigned in 1971. R.E. Comp. Kenneth MacCormac was appointed to succeed him.

V.E. Comp. T. J. Fenning, Past District Grand S. of T. was appointed to succeed him.

The M.Ex. District Grand King writing in his Annual Report of 1971 to the Supreme Grand Chapter pointed out that "Two thirds of Chapters in the District of Antrim meet in Belfast, and that at the time of writing, these Chapters were endeavouring to carry on as normally as possible, in very trying conditions. The serious state of affairs in the City make Companions very loath to be out of their homes in the evening, and the bomb attacks by terrorists on our two Masonic Halls together with the uncertainty regarding public transport during darkness had aggravated the situation". Naturally attendances suffered badly and also the social activities of the Companions.

Chapter 383 which sat in Arthur Square Masonic Hall transferred to Park Road Masonic Hall, which is in the District of Down and another Chapter who meet in Crumlin Road Masonic Hall asked for permission to suspend its meetings for 1 year. Chapter 181 due to poor attendances and the loss of many experienced Companions felt compelled to surrender their warrant.

Warm tributes were paid to V.E. Comp. Ansley Stewart on his retirement as Assistant Grand Registrar, at the June Convocation 1973 and in handing over a cheque and suitably inscribed clock, all the speakers commented on his efficiency and courteous manner. Unfortunately V.E. Comp.Stewart died on 15th June 1974 following an operation from which he never recovered.

It is regrettable that since 1970 the following Companions suffered death by terrorist action:

Ex. Comp. Andrew Jardine

Comp. G. Walmsley, Capt., B.V.R.A.C. 538

Comp. John Moore, High Priest R.A.C. 89

Comp. Leonard Kaitcher, R.A.C. 275 Comp.

Gerald Cathcart, R.A.C. 726

Comp. John McFadden, R.A.C. 246

All right thinking people will agree that no cause can justify such cowardly crimes.

The M.Ex. District Grand King again writing in his Reports was able to comment on the kindness, understanding, tolerance and warm understanding which exists among members of our Chapters and goes on to express the fervent hope that all Companions in his District will endeavour to display these virtues in their dealings with their fellow men from day to day. Only when these virtues have become more widespread among the peoples of our Province will we R.A. Masons be able to carry on our normal Masonic activities in an atmosphere free from present tensions.

Royal Arch Masonry in Ireland suffered a great loss by the death of the Most Ex. Supreme Grand King M.Ex. Comp. Sydney Hanna M.B.E. on the 15th December 1976. He had been Supreme Grand King since 1957, and during that time had endeared himself to all who had come into contact with his wise leadership, kindliness and courtesy. He was succeeded by M.Ex. Comp. Samuel J. Martin J.P. who has earned the respect, good will and loyalty of all Companions.

One of the highlights of the District was the Constitution, Consecration and Dedication of a new Chapter "Liscoole" No. 763 on 20th September 1975. The foundation members were warmly congratulated on having sufficient faith in the future to cause them to apply for a Warrant to Supreme Grand Chapter. The Most Ex. District Grand King presided at the Occasional Convocation of the District Grand Chapter which was greatly honoured by the presence of the Most Ex. Supreme Grand King.

1979 was an outstanding year when Supreme Grand Chapter celebrated its 150th Anniversary. A Service of Thanksgiving was held in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin with a Special Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter held in the Royal Dublin Society, Ballsbridge, Dublin, followed by a Dinner in Freemasons' Hall, Dublin.

In January 1979 the District received with regret the resignation of M.Ex. Comp. Kenneth A. MacCormac B.Sc. due to failing eyesight. Sincere thanks were recorded for all his work for District Grand Chapter, not only as District Deputy Grand King but also for his work as District Grand Registrar.

M.Ex. Comp. C. F. A. Quigley F.C.A. who was appointed Auditor in 1960 and who from 1965 to 1968 had acted as District Assistant Grand Treasurer, and had been District Grand Treasurer from 1969, was appointed District Deputy Grand King in 1979. R.Ex. Comp. Norman G. White F.C.A. was appointed District Grand Treasurer, he had been Hon. Auditor since 1966.

Since the Constitution of the District Grand Chapters of Down and of Antrim within hours of each other, there has always existed the closest bond of friendship, and it will therefore be appreciated that in the traumatic years between 1965 and 1977 the heartfelt sympathy of the Companions of the District Grand Chapter of Antrim went out to the Companions of Down. Firstly by the death of their District Grand King

            M.Ex. Comp. Wm. Keith F.C.A., J.P., to be followed by his successor M.Ex. Comp. David Rea in 1973, and by his successor M.Ex. Comp. R. J. Walker O.B.E. in 1976.

M.Ex. Comp. Samuel J. Martin J.P., was appointed to succeed M.E. Comp. Walker, but had to resign on his appointment to the office of Supreme Grand King. M.E. Comp. Robert H. McCartney was installed as his successor on 28th May 1977, but tragically died on 23rd December of that actual year.

Most Ex. Comp. Dr. Norman Agnew M.A., Ph.D. was appointed District Grand King, and happily continues to guide and direct the affairs of the District Grand Chapter of Down.

The congratulations of the District were conveyed to the Most Ex. Supreme Grand King on his appointment by the District Grand King who assured him of the loyalty, support and good will of the Companions of the District of Antrim.

There are fifteen Chapters in the Irish Constitution which were constituted in 1830 and which are still working, of these 15 Chapters five are in the District of Antrim No. 106 Belfast, No. 335 Broomhedge, No. 659 Belfast, No. 704 Ahoghill and No. 811 Lisburn. Each anniversary was suitably celebrated.

Many celebrations have taken place for anniversaries:

Vowferry                                R.A.C. No. 17                           Centenary

St. Johns                                  R.A.C. No. 178                        Centenary

Straid                                      R.A.C. No. 276                        Centenary

Thos. Valentine                      R.A.C. No. 21                           90 years

Richard Irvine                        R.A.C. No. 255                        80 years

Sidon                                       R.A.C. No. 275                        75 years

Crumlin                                  R.A.C. No. 140                        75 years

Fortwilliam                            R.A.C. No. 359                        75 years

Whiteabbey                            R.A.C. No. 180                        75 years

Belfast                                     R.A.C. No. 324                        75 years

Kinahan                                  R.A.C. No. 229                        75 years  

St. Patrick's Union Raloo       R.A.C. No. 175                         60 years


Amongst the many other anniversaries were:

Doagh                                     R.A.C. No. 317                        50 years

Whitehead                              R.A.C. No. 313                        50 years

Claremont                              R.A.C. No. 423                        50 years  

Whiteabbey                           R.A.C. No. 512                        50 years  

  1. B. Andrews R.A.C. No. 509 50 years

Randalstown                          R.A.C. No. 598                        50 years

Amon                                      R.A.C. No. 613                        50 years


Epworth                                 R.A.C. No. 562                        50 years

Zubian                                    R.A.C. No. 647                        50 years

Ardmoyne                              R.A.C. No. 672                        25 years

Sir Crawford McCullagh       R.A.C. No. 427                        25 years

Killeen                                    R.A.C. No. 705                        25 years


In 1981 the District introduced for the first time two Stewards to assist in the dignity of the Chapter, and two beautiful wands were handed over for their use by Ex. Comp. W. Aiken R.A.C. 685 and Ex. Comp. A. Fullerton R.A.C. 775 and were warmly thanked for their thought and kindness.

R.Ex. Comp. C. F. A. Quigley Grand Chief Scribe headed a deputation from Supreme Grand Chapter to the Convocation of Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland and at the Banquet following the meeting had the honour of proposing the toast to the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland, and at the April Convocation following, he spoke highly of the welcome he had received and the lavish hospitality.

Fraternal good wishes were conveyed to M.Ex. Comp. Dr. A. J. B. McFarland M.B., B.Ch., J.P. on his appointment in 1971 as M.Ex. District Grand King of the District Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons Londonderry, Donegall, Tyrone and Fermanagh. The retirement in 1982 of M.Ex. Comp. Joseph Harrison, District Grand King of Armagh, was learnt with much regret. Congratulations and good wishes were conveyed to his successor M.Ex. Comp. Samuel Mailey.

 M.Ex. Comp. W. W. Preston after long and serious consideration and purely for personal reasons, tendered his resignation as District Grand King to take effect from April 1984. M.Ex. Comp. Preston had endeared himself to every companion in the District and was respected and esteemed throughout the County. He had been District Deputy King from 1964, in all some 20 years of service.

The thanks and appreciation of the Companions of the District were expressed at the Presentation which took place at the April Convocation and the following Resolution was passed.

"That we the members of the District Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Antrim, while expressing our profound sorrow at the decision of M.Ex. Comp. W. W. Preston, J.P., B.A., to withdraw from active government of this District Grand Chapter, desire to place on record our very high appreciation of his service which, over 20 years as Deputy and District Grand King, he has rendered to this District Grand Chapter, in particular, and to Royal Arch Masonry, in general. The present high standing of this District Chapter is a fitting testimonial of his work during his tenure of office.

His consummate skill as a ritualist aroused the admiration of us all and his endearing personality won for him the affection of all Companions.

We assure him that on leaving his official position, he takes with him the respect and affection of each and all of us and we hope that we may have the pleasure of his attendance at many Convocations of the District Chapter in the future."

The Presentation was a well kept secret, and the response from the Companions overwhelmed M.Ex. Comp. Preston. He in turn presented to the District Grand Chapter a beautiful District Grand King's Standard and after a gift to Ballymena District he handed over the balance towards refurbishing the Chapter Room in Rosemary Street. District Grand Chapter agreed to grant some of its Funds to supplement the gift. The work was completed by 1986 and immediately following the June Convocation was named and dedicated the "W. W. Preston Room". It will thus be a perpetual tribute to his work and dedicated service as District Grand King.

On 28th April 1984 M.Ex. Comp. C. F. A. Quigley was Installed as Most Excellent District Grand King. M.Ex. Comp. Quigley had served the District over a period of some 24 years. As Hon. Auditor, as District Assistant Grand Treasurer, as Grand Treasurer and lately as District Deputy Grand King. The popularity of the appointment was evident by the extent of the distinguished Company and Companions of the District who attended his Installation and at the Dinner following.

M.Ex. Comp. Quigley has always been tireless in the furtherance of Royal Arch Masonry. He is a Past Grand High Priest of the Supreme Grand Chapter and is the Representative of the Grand Chapter of West Virginia at Supreme Grand Chapter.

R.Ex. Comp. Thomas Hunter who had served as High Priest in 1972 was appointed District Deputy Grand King. The thanks of the District were conveyed to M.Ex. Comp. Richard Robinson, who had prepared the Ritual of the Installation and also to those who had made the excellent arrangements for the Dinner etc., particularly to V.Ex. Comp. D. J. Long who stood in for the Registrar, as he had been in Hospital part of the time. He was subsequently appointed District Assistant Registrar.

M.E. Comp. W. Mcllwaine was thanked for providing a set of cushions.

At the June Concovation held at Bushmills, and at the well attended meeting,the Ex. King of Bushmills Chapter 414 welcomed the District Grand King and his Officers and presented to him a copy of "The Spirit of the Age" with a frontspiece beautifully inscribed and illuminated by V.Ex. Comp. Henry Irwin past District Grand Cap. of P.V., to express their congratulations on his elevation and as a momento of his first meeting as District Grand King and that at Bushmills.

The District Grand King has been endeavouring to make closer contacts with the Royal Arch Companions of Scotland and he was happy indeed when the District received an Invitation from the Provincial Grand R.A.C. of Argyll and the Isles to visit them at their Annual Convocation in Oban. A party of 30 accepted this opportunity to make fraternal contacts. A delightful week-end was spent in their company.

The District was pleased that the Provincial Grand R.A.C. of Ayr accepted our Invitation to our June Convocation, when we hope we suitably impressed our visitors with the warmth of our welcome and the strength of our District. A hearty welcome was given to M.Ex. Comp. Wm. T. Magee, the representative of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Ireland at the Grand Chapter of R.A. Masons of British Columbia and the Yukon in West Canada.

At this Convocation the M.Ex. District Grand King accepted on behalf of District 3 Wands for the use of our Directors of Ceremonies. The Wands, the gift of M.Ex. Comp. Wm. McKelvey, R.E. Comp. Norman Black, V.Ex. Comp. J. Mcllveen and Ex. Comp. M. Rickerby. They were handed over by M.Ex. Comp. Richard Robinson in his usual polished style. They were all thanked by the District Grand King as further evidence of their dedicated interest in the District.

In October 1 985 M.Ex. Comp. Wm. Overend, well known through-out the District, was appointed District Assistant Grand King. A most popular appointment.

The District was delegated to welcome 22 Companions and their wives from the Provincial Grand R.A.C. of Argyle and the Isles in June 1986.  The strong deputation of 22 R.A. Masons were warmly welcomed to our Convocation, and following the Convocation, a Dinner Dance was held to give an opportunity of entertaining the ladies.

Unfortunately our troubles are still with us, and Brookville Masonic Hall on the Antrim Road Belfast which has been a target for years for bombers, terrorists and vandals has had to be vacated. The Chapters which sat there have been accommodated in Rosemary Street or at Carnmoney. There are now 128 Chapters in the District.

The District was once again honoured by a visit of the Supreme Grand Chapter at the May 1986 Convocation. This was followed by a well attended Dinner. The District is always very happy to have a visit from Supreme Grand Chapter and in particular the Most Ex. Supreme Grand King, Most Ex. Comp. Samuel J. Martin always a most welcome visitor. The District are particularly pleased to act as hosts this year as the D.G. Registrar M.Ex. Comp. T.J. Fenning is the present Grand High Priest in Supreme Grand Chapter.