2. Richview’s Masonic Past

A brief look into the history of Richview Lodge which from 1885-1980 was a Masonic Boys’ School.

Richview Lodge in Clonskeagh, where the UCD School of Architecture is now based, was built in 1790 by the Powell Family.

Early view of Richview Lodge

Early view of Richview Lodge

In 1885 it was bought by the Freemasons of Ireland and developed into a Masonic Boys’ School, which only closed its doors in 1980.[1] Various freemasonry symbols can still be seen in and around the building today.

The school, which moved from Adelaide Hall because of overcrowding, was founded to “provide for the education and maintenance of the sons of deceased members of the Masonic Order” .[2] Sir Thomas Drew extended the school in the late 1880s. Drew was one of the most distinguished Irish architects of the 19th century. He was responsible for designing the Ulster Bank on Dame Street, Rathmines Town Hall, the Trinity College Graduate’s Building and St. Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.[3]

A trawl of The Irish Times archive showcases dozens of articles from the late 1800s regarding the annual “Masonic Orphan Boys School Sports” days, which became an extremely important date on the Irish sports calendar. The 1890 Sports Day boasts of “military bands and day light fireworks” – tickets were only a shilling each with Family Tickets (admitting three) on sale for only two shilling “provided they (were) applied for at the Freemasons Hall on Molesworth Street”. [4] In 1891, there were over two-dozen different competitions including a “one mile walking race”, “throwing the cricket ball” and a “sack race”.[5] A Clay Pigeon Tournament was held in 1893 to raise funds for the school[6] , the following year The Band of the Royal Dragoons played “a selection of music” on the grounds. [7]

The school was in the news in 1904 when Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (Queen Victoria’s son) and his wife Princess Louise of Prussia visited the school. The royal party were given a tour of the grounds, inspected the ninety boys enrolled in the school and had tea.[8] Prince Arthur was himself a Freemason and was elected Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England thirty seven times, the last when he was eighty-nine.

In 1930, the school built “an infirmary and hall” in memory of the pupils of the school who fought and died in the First World War. [9]

WW1 Memorial Plaque

WW1 Memorial Plaque

In 1944, a memorial pavilion (at the cost of £820) was built in memory of Mr. James Moore, who had been headmaster of the school from 1896-1940. [10] In 1969, a new £60,000 science block was added to the school and named the ‘Raymond F. Brooke Memorial Building’ honouring the late Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. [11]

Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation whose origins lie in the stonemasons’ guilds of the Middle Ages. Membership is only open to men, of legal age who believe in a “supreme being”.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland is the second oldest in the world with the first evidence of its existence coming from a mention in the Dublin Weekly Journal in 1725. [12] In the thirty-two counties today, there are 700 Masonic lodges made up of 35,000 freemasons.

The symbol of the crossed compass and set-square (see below) is the most easily identifiable symbol of Freemasonry. The compass supposedly represents spirituality and divinity (i.e. Heaven); while the set-square is supposed to embody mortality and impermanence (i.e. Earth). According to the Masons, together these symbols embody the union of earth with the heavens, or matter and mind. The Eye of Providence (which sits between the compass and set-square) represents the all-seeing eye of God.

Freemasonry symbol on Richview Lodge

Freemasonry symbol on Richview Lodge

In 1980, UCD bought Richview Lodge and its estate of 17.4 acres for £2.1million. [13] This was provided by the government in consideration of the college’s agreement to vacate part of the Merrion Street Building. Richview Lodge and its surrounding building now accommodates the UCD School of Architecture, Landscape and Civil Engineering.

[1]Donal McCartney, UCD: A National Idea, The History of University College, Dublin (Dublin, 1999), 397
[2]Patrick d’Esterre, “Masonic Boys School”, The Irish Times, July 23, 1964.
[3]Architects of Ireland – Sir Thomas Drew (1838-1910) http://ireland.archiseek.com/architects_ireland/drew.html
[4]Anon, “Athletic Sports at the Masonic Orphan Boy’s School”, The Irish Times, July 3, 1890.
[5]Anon, “Masonic Orphan Boys School Sports Annual Sports”, The Irish Times, June 29, 1891.
[6]Anon, “Clay Pigeon Shooting Tournament At Clonskeagh”, The Irish Times, May 5, 1893.
[7]Anon, “Masonic Orphan Boys School Sports Annual Sports”, The Irish Times, June 22, 1894.
[8]Anon, “Masonic Orphan School Clonskeagh, – Visit of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught”, The Irish Times, April 20, 1904.
[9]Anon, “Masonic Orphan Boys School – Memorial Hall and Infirmary Opened”, The Irish Times, June 30, 1930.
[10]Anon, “Memorial to late Headmaster”, The Irish Times, May 1, 1944.
[11]Anon, “New block at Masonic boys’ school”, The Irish Times, May 26, 1969.
[12]Website of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Munster http://www.munsterfreemason.com/Freemasonry_in_Ireland.htm [Accessed 20th April 2009]
[13]Donal McCartney, UCD: A National Idea, The History of University College, Dublin (Dublin, 1999), 397


16 responses to “2. Richview’s Masonic Past

  1. Very impressed with the new website, it brings back very fond memories of my days at the school, which was only saddened by the death of my best friend William (Billy) Chambers.

    I remember on summer nights fielding for the Senior cricketers as they played under the great tree.

    Good luck.

    • Hi Martin,
      Whatever happened to William Chambers ?
      I was talking to Simon Dalby today around him.
      He said he died of pneumonia, I heard gastro-enteritis, bt neigher sounds plausable as he was a very fit, healthy guy.
      By the way, how are you ?
      – James Mahon

      • Holsworthy Cricket Club

        Hi James, sorry for the delay, only just picked your reply up….yes Billie Chambers died of I believe, gastro-enteritis, or being sick all the time, eventually bringing up his insides……great shame……I stayed at his house, as he did mine, indeed I used to visit his mother and sister when I came home on leave from the Navy…….hope your keeping well….take care, Martin.

  2. Am delighted to see the Format of the revived Masonic Boys’ School Website. I wish you every success, DENNIS, in your continued up-dating of the site and I look forward to using it in the future.

  3. Did any one pass on from Richview Masonic Lodge?

    Hi there,

    I am wondering if any past Masonic boys or others who has a bit of history about the place could tell us if someone passed away from the building. We are experiencing some strange things going on here confirmed by several people. For example, typing and rattling papers in the next room when there are no in in that room, doors opening and closing without anyone coming in, especially late in the nights, knocking on the door but there is no one when answered. The cleaners who come in the afternoons to clean up the place also reported similar experiences. We’d appreciate any responses form those who know something.


  4. No,
    I boarded there from 1971 – 1978 and there was nothing funny going on.
    Maybe just drafts.
    No dead bodies / ghosts etc.
    But some great discos in the 1970’s.

    • david b wilson

      Doesn’t anyone remember the “black hand”in the west wing stairwell,also numerous freaky occurrences,in various areas,so cool

  5. i also boarded there 1974-1978, it was a spooky old place to say the least,coming from a more modern type school in Canada.but i dont recall any strange thing going on.i agree with James ,great discos and such.

  6. Stephen Robinson

    I was at MBS from January 1975 until June 1979. It was a fantastic school, and I would be keen to hear from anyone from my era, to find out what they are doing.

  7. Stephen: james dot mahon at gmail

  8. Stephen Robinson

    There was no mention of ghosts when I was at the school…….

  9. Mike and David good to hear from you.Andy Rogers here.I was also at the school 1975-1979.
    I had a brother Robert at thew school aswell (Beaver)!
    I think you were in my class David!
    Absolutely amazing school and I often look back with very fond memories of the place.
    I am still threatening my two boys with boarding school if they dont wise up!!

  10. Hello any past pupils from Richview Lodge
    . I am researching artist, George Frederick Campbell RHA (1917-1979) who was a pupil at the school from 1929-1934. I’m aware this is a very long time ago but wondered if anyone had memories of the school then? Campbell received a prize in 1930, “The Florentine Prize”. Does anyone know what this was for? I would be grateful for any help or information on the school during this time.
    my email address is;

    Thank you
    Karen Reihill
    Currently researching Gerard Dillon & Friends

  11. Stephen Robinson


    You could try contacting Johnny Bell, who was a past pupil with great knowledge of our scholl and it’s past. I have no contact number for him, but if you ring the Masonic Lodge in Molesworth Street, Dublin they should have contact details for him, or someone else who could help with your enquiry.

    Good luck !!

    Stephen Robinson.

  12. Holsworthy Cricket Club

    I was there from Easter 1967 until Xmas 1974. I remember there was some strange going ons…upstairs in the old box-room, where I slept at first, when I went there there was 108 pupils.
    Email me at genesisrome2007@hotmail.com
    Martin Heslip.

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