At the end of the 18th century, the daughter of Lord Doneraile was only an adolescent, but she was intelligent, independent, cultivated and full of character. She loved nothing more than passing the time in the library, huddled beside a window with the curtains closed, lost in a good book, usually History, sometimes poetry. It was late in the day and weariness was creeping in, she closed her eyes and soon the book slipped from her hands as she fell asleep against the cushions. Outside, in the park, night fell.
She was awoken by voices in the library. She jumped out from behind the velour curtains to find her father and a dozen or so men sitting around, she recognized a few of them. When the men saw her they let out cries, a look of horror fell upon her father’s face. What was going on, she wondered, that my appearance could provoke such a violent reaction. Quite simply, she had interrupted a meeting of the Irish Freemasons. Evidently, she was unware of any of this, including that her father was the Grand Master of the Lodge.
A heavy silence fell upon the room. The men continued to regard her with aversion, her father kept his head bowed until one of the men finally spoke up, “Lord Doneraile, you know our rule. If our secret is discovered, if the members of our Lodge are identified by an outsider, that person must die. We have to kill your daughter.” Protestations and exclamations were tossed about until they were all in agreement. It was either take the life of the girl or put the lives of all the members at risk.
Lord Doneraile pleaded the case for his daughter. She could keep a secret, nobody would ever find out. The young girl promised this in a loud voice. She swore on all that was dear to her to never speak of what she had seen. Their pleas were in vain. The rules of the Lodge could not be transgressed. Suddenly, Lord Doneraile raised his head, “There is a solution. We make my daughter a member of our Lodge.”
“A woman! Impossible!”
“In that case, she will found her own Lodge, under our guidance.” The other members, who in truth were all searching for a solution, approved loudly.
Thus was the first women’s lodge of the Freemasons founded, and thus did the daughter of Lord Doneraile acquire the name Lady Freemason.