Woman becomes only second ever to join freemason lodge
on 28/09/2012 00:00:00
The lodge is affiliated to the Grand Orient de France, which, unlike some of its conservative Irish and British counterparts, actively encourages female participation.
In 1712, Elizabeth St Leger, daughter of Viscount Doneraile, spied on a freemason meeting which took place in her father's mansion in North Cork.
She was discovered by one of the gathering and it was decided to initiate her into the lodge.
She died in 1775 and a plaque noting the unique initiation was erected in her memory at St Finbarre's Cathedral.
Caroline, who is married to Polish man Georges Wollk, said her grand-father was a freemason.
"He probably taught me to have a masonic life without even realising it. He was charitable and calm in adversity. He had the philosophy of cup half-full rather than half-empty."
Georges was one of the founding members of the fledgling Grand Orient de France's three affiliated lodges in Ireland.
Stephen Murray, an accountant from Douglas who is master of the Ballincollig-based lodge, said the organisation was getting ready to carry out charitable works for the elderly and children in need.
He echoed Caroline's call for more women to join the lodges.
The Irish organisation's top man, Grand Master Mason Eduard Schmidt- Zoner is a German-born, naturalised Irish citizen.
The retired head of a department at the Leibherr crane company in Killarney said their fledgling lodges in Ireland had 40 members and this was increasing all the time.
He said they were a very diverse group of people of all creeds and nationalities.
There are seven nationalities represented in the membership list including one man from Ivory Coast.
They include a carpenter, musician, engineer, photographer, chef, and sales reps.
"We're not a secret society by any means. It's a think-tank for the common good," Eduard said.
Further information on the Ballincollig-based lodge can be had by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.