Dromore man Ernest ‘Ernie’ Martin made local Freemasonry history last week when he was installed as the newest, and oldest, Worshipful Master of the town’s Lagandale Masonic Lodge No.521.
Having come to Freemasonry late in life and after working his way through the Hillsborough Road lodge’s various offices in recent years, Ernie took up his new role just a few weeks shy of his 86th birthday, determinedly accepting the Chair a little over a year after undergoing triple heart bypass surgery.
On hand to present another lodge member, Worshipful Brother Will Dewart, with a 50-year Jewel marking his half century of service, Provincial Assistant Grand Master Ivan Boreland also presented Ernie with gifts on behalf of the lodge.
A dyed-in-the-wool Dromore man, joiner Ernie worked for 38 years at John Graham (Dromore) and was in fact involved in Graham’s construction of the current Masonic Hall in the mid-1950s.
It will be 60 years next year since the building was completed, so allowing two other working Dromore Masonic Lodges, No.70 and No.94, to meet under one roof.
Ernie’s grandfather, Alexander Martin, from Ballysallagh, Dromore, was a stonemason by trade and to this day the house he built in the late 1800s still stands, having been restored a few years ago. Axlexander’s son and Ernie’s father, Walter was himself a skilled Graham’s woodworker and there was no surprise in Ernie following in his footsteps.
Retired after more than 30 years with the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, Worshipful Brother Dewart, meanwhile, was initiated into Lagandale Masonic Lodge on January 19, 1965 and records show he rarely missed a lodge meeting.
He was made Worshipful Master in 1975 and became a Provincial Grand Steward in 2003.
A lodge representative to the Banbridge District Masonic Committee of Inspection for many years, he is involved in several branches of masonry.