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Fitzgerald's Town

well for 50 years, but

well for 50 years, but now, in the year 2011 a replacement, The Lincoln Event Centre, has been erected by Selwyn District Council on North Belt and an extension of William St. The Hibernians The Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society (H.A.C.B.S.) was firmly established in New Zealand by the time St. Patrick’s Lodge, No. 182, based at the Church of the Reparation on Shands Track, was formed in 1882. The origins of this benefit society were in Ballarat, Australia, which merged with two other Australian societies to become the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society. The first New Zealand lodge was formed in Greymouth in 1869 and others were soon established throughout the country catering for the welfare of its members. 12 The Hibernian lodges, like the Druids, provided financial support for members in need. An indication of the role the lodges played in their parishes is found in a New Zealand Tablet report of 10 February 1888 (Papers Past) when Bishop John Grimes arrived as the first Bishop of Christchurch. In an address of welcome Hibernian members addressed the Bishop as follows: 13 My Lord, We, the officers and brethren of St. Patrick’s branch, Christchurch, St. Patrick’s branch New Headford, and St. Patrick’s branch, Rangiora, of the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society, desire with deep veneration and filial love to unite in wishing you, in the beautiful words of our mother tongue, a “Cead Mille Failthe”, upon your arrival at the seat of your adopted home. Ours is purely a Catholic Benefit society, and recognised by the laws of this colony, composed for the most part of Roman Catholics of Irish birth or descent, whose object it is to ‘cherish the memory of Ireland’, to provide the sick and needy members with sustenance and relief, to promote a healthy Catholic spirit amongst the members, attending Holy Communion at regular intervals in conformity with our laws.” When St. Patrick’s Lodge was formed the question of Home Rule for Ireland was a major issue and to further this cause lodges actively supported those who were working towards this objective in Ireland. There are reports in The Tablet of speakers at picnics and other occasions reminding their listeners of the oppressive regime endured by their families and friends back home. Perhaps the memories of their past lives in Ireland and the problems still affecting the country at that time, explains why the Hibernian Lodges were not represented in the procession held in Christchurch to honour Queen Victoria’s silver jubilee. 14 However, Hibernians were certainly loyal to their adopted country and worked hard alongside neighbours to develop the necessary infrastructure to build a 124

healthy and prosperous community. 15 Men who were prominent in St. Patrick’s Lodge and in the development of Lincoln and the surrounding district included among their number P. Henley, M.F. Ryan, P. Ryan, and J. Doherty. The aims of the organisation were naturally well supported by the clergy for many of whom Ireland was “Home”. Like many societies St. Patrick’s Lodge sometimes found it difficult to recruit members and on more than one occasion a speaker would encourage the young men of the parish to join. Not only would it be to their benefit, but membership would also provide the lodge with young and energetic recruits who would become leaders in the future. The Lodge not only organised dinners, picnics and dances for members and their families, but also supported the Roman Catholic school based at the Church of the Reparation at Shands Track. The Hibernians at Shands Track prospered for many years, but by the late 20 th century the continuing evolution of our social services diminished the need for friendly societies and membership fell dramatically. The Lincoln Hibernians closed their lodge in 1971, and although the organisation still functions in New Zealand, the number of lodges, as with the Masons and the Druids, is very much reduced, either through closure or amalgamation. Sources and notes 1. English Freemasonry in Canterbury, 1859 – 1959, J. Halstead 1959. 2. The Press 30 June 1880. See Papers Past. 3. Lyttelton Times. 1889. See Papers Past. 4. History of Lincoln Lodge No. 133. 5. Ellesmere Guardian 10 June 1916. See Papers Past. 6. The Press. 9 July 1880. See Papers Past. 7. Ibid. 26 August 1880. See Papers Past. 8. Star 3 December 1889. See Papers Past 9. Ibid 25 August 1890. See Papers Past 10. Ellesmere Guardian 26 July 1895. See Papers Past. 11. Lincoln Community Centre, 25years, 1961-1986; J. Habgood. 125

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