Abbey Lodge 180 was founded on the 14th August 1869. The Warrant was first issued in 1748 to found a Lodge in Killyleagh, where it remained till 1817, when it was re-issued to Keady. It remained in Keady till it was surrendered in 1848. The Warrant remained dormant until it was issued to Abbey Lodge in 1869.
There is a school of thought that the Lodge sat in ‘Firlea’, a house on the Circular Road Jordanstown but Grand Lodge records could not confirm this.
The first Master was Bro. Franklin Hunter of Lodge 106. The Senior Warden was Bro. Thomas McNeeley of Lodge 253. Junior Warden was Bro. Hugh McCullough of Lodge 253. The Lodge sat there until 1900.
Extract from "The Minutes of Lodge 180 on 30th August 1899 record"; "Bro. Kennedy informed the Lodge that he had received notice to give up possession of the present building on 1st February 1900. A committee was then appointed to find a suitable place to meet until a new Hall would be built. The Secretary was instructed to communicate with the Rt. Worshipful. Provincial Deputy Grand Master to obtain permission to solicit subscriptions for building a new hall."
Extract from "The Minutes of Lodge 180 on 27th September 1899 record; "The Secretary gave a detailed report of an interview he had with the Dep. Prov. Grand Master with reference to the amount we intended to spend on the erection of the New Hall. He thought that £700 was too large a sum for the Lodge to raise. He was advised to reduce the sum considerably, and to abandon the idea of building a caretaker’s residence, as we could never raise the amount."
The building committee at a subsequent meeting, agreed and arranged to get plans for a hall at a cost of about £400.
The Lodge then moved to the old Presbyterian Manse which was situated where the New Church Hall now stands. This was
occupied by Bro. Andrew Kennedy who was Sexton of the Church, and a prominent member of 180.
The Lodge remained here till 1899, when they and Andrew Kennedy were given notice to quit, as the Church Committee had
decided to demolish the old manse of Whiteabbey Presbyterian Church. The brethren looked far and near for suitable premises,
Extract from "The Minutes of Lodge 180 on 25th October 1899 record"; Bro. Boles stated that he had visited Lodge 213 in
Whitehouse with reference to our securing a temporary place to meet during the building of the new Hall. He was very well
received, and the brethren there were prepared to allow us to use their hall, free of charge, if we so decided.
After discussion it was suggested by some of the members that it would be advisable, if possible, to get a place in Whiteabbey. It was
proposed by Bro Ramsey, seconded by Bro. Shanks, and passed, that the offer of Bro. Macaulay’s Hall, which he had placed at the
disposal of the Lodge, be taken up, subject to the approval of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master."
The brethren of 180 felt that it was a long way from Whiteabbey to Whitehouse, and even further to walk back, after a good night’s
entertainment. They moved instead to what was known as Sandy Macaulay’s Bottling Shed. Bro. Macauley was licencee of premises
known as the Half Way House. Worshipful. Bro. John F. Gordon was Secretary of his Lodge from 1914 until 1920 when he left to
add his efforts to another Lodge founded in Whiteabbey.
Of the three Founders of the Lodge, Bro. Franklin Hunter, received his Demit on 29th January 1902, and emigrated to Australia for
health reasons. Bro. Captain Thomas McNeeley, S.W., was lost with all his crew when the S.S. Whiteabbey foundered in Ballyholme
Bay in a gale on 27th November 1901. Bro. Hugh McCullough, J.W., after receiving his Demit, emigrated to America and joined a
Lodge there. Bro. Aaron Black, initiated on 7th July 1870, emigrated to New Zealand and was the Founder W.M. of Victoria Lodge
No. 147 in Invercargil, then sitting within the Irish Constitution.
Extract from the "Minutes of Lodge 180 on 27th November 1901 record" "Some of the brethren made touching references to
the loss his Lodge has suffered with the death of our late Bro. Thomas McNeely, one of the original members of the lodge, who
went down with the Steamship Whiteabbey at his post of duty on 12th November 1901 – almost in sight of his home."
Not much is known of the early history of Lodge 180, as the first records were lost when the German Air Force blitzed Belfast in
April 1941, and the Secretary’s home was burned. Consequently the earliest minutes were those commencing on January 1899.
Extract from the "Minutes of Lodge 180 on 30th August 1899 record"; "The Secretary was instructed to communicate with the
Rt. Worshipful. Prov. Grand Master to get permission to solicit subscriptions for building the new Hall."
Extract from the "Minutes of Lodge 180 on 29th April 1903 record"; The Secretary read a letter giving permission to make
preparation for building a new Hall, and giving permission to solicit subscriptions.
Extract from the "Minutes of Lodge 180 on 30th November 1904 record" "The Secretary reported that the building of the hall
at Station Road Whiteabbey had been completed. The Rt. Worshipful. Prov. Dep. Grand Master had accompanied the Building
Committee to pass the hall previous to Dedication.
He expressed himself highly pleased with everything, and gave permission to move the Warrant and meet in the new Hall any time we are ready. Arrangements for Dedication would be made early in the year or whenever would suit Lord Shaftesbury."
Lodge 180 held an emergency meeting in the new Hall on 11th January 1905, and as this was the first night in the new Hall, Bro. Bradshaw, W.M. entertained the brethren to substantial refreshment when the usual Loyal and Masonic Toasts were given.
The Dedication of the new Hall took place on 28th January 1905, and was performed by the Rt. Worshipful. Prov Grand Master, the
Rt. Hon. The Earl of Shaftesbury, assisted by officers and members of the Prov. Grand Lodge.
Among the large number in attendance were Bro. Col. McCalmont, MP. of Magheramorne House, Bro. Thomas Torrans J.P. of
Edenmore, Bro. Robert Tennent J.P., of Rushpark, Bro. James Torrens J.P. of Rostulla and Bro. W.T. Braithwaite P.P.S.G.W.
The total cost of the new Hall was £615.
Attached to the Minutes of Lodge 180, 31st May 1905, is the following letter; "May 31st 1905. Masters, Wardens, Deacons, and fellow
masons of Lodge 180. Worshipful. Master, when this Lodge was being erected, we considered it the duty of every mason connected
with this Lodge to assist in a tangible way its completion. We, the undersigned, as craftsmen, considered the building incomplete till
such time as suitable furniture would be obtained. Worshipful. Master, the furniture you now see before you is the result of our
We were sorry at not having it ready to hand over for Dedication, but the delay was caused by circumstances over which we had no
control. Worshipful. Master, we could ask you to accept this furniture on behalf of Lodge 180. Signed: David Coote, Thomas
McKinney, Samuel Moore, Adam R. Wilson, and Nathaniel McKillen."
The beautiful old furniture still adorns the Abbey Room in the present building, ie "The Masonic Centre" at Monkstown Ave.
During the period of meetings in the Old Hall (Station Road) the following Lodges were constituted, Edenmore 161, Westland 461,
Andrew Henderson 512, Liscoole 763, Abbots’ Cross 814, Cloughfern 845, and Fern 999.
In 1972 information was received that plans existed for the construction of a new motorway, and that the road would mean the demolition of the Masonic Hall. The Board of Trustees and the Hall Committee met and instructed Worshipful Brothers Richard Hunter and Billy Montgomery to secure a new site. Several sites were considered and eventually the ground at Monkstown Ave. was selected for purchase. A new Masonic Centre was built at this location and Abbey 180 moved from Station Road in November 1987
Twenty seven brethren have now held the prestigious position of Worshipful Master in the new Centre and the lodge today is
actively Working to celebrate its 150th Aniversery in 2019.
The Old Hall has been sold. It served its purpose well, and the Masons of Whiteabbey owe a great debt of gratitude to the early
members of Lodge 180 who built, and bequeathed to all Masons / Lodges the Hall. They were the pioneers of Freemasonry in the
Extracts taken from; THE ORIGIN and Development of FREEMASONRY in the WHITEABBEY AREA.
By Rt. Worshipful. Bro. W. J. Montgomery Lodge 180, J.P., P.G.D., P.P.S.G.W., Rep. G.L. Chile.