Robert Bashford has been active in the field of Masonic Research from the mid-1980s presenting his first paper in 1984. His work for the Irish Lodge of Research No 200 I.C. was acknowledged in 2009 with the presentation of the Lodge of Research Jewel of Merit for his many published papers on aspects of Irish Masonic Research. In recent years he has spoken at Lodge Hope of Kurrachee and the Manchester Association of Masonic Research, on top of a heavy schedule of Lodge presentations throughout Ireland. Over the years he has spoken in Lodges in Washington DC, Turkey, and Denmark and has visited extensively throughout Europe.
One of his most satisfying achievements was his involvement in the formation of the Younger Master Mason’s Committee of Antrim, which was established in 1986 to carry out an in-depth study of how Freemasonry worked in the Province and how it could be improved to encourage new members and retain existing members. He was one of a team of 12 young Master Masons who between them visited every lodge in the Province and formulated their Younger Master Mason’s Report. This document was well received at both Provincial and Grand Lodge level and led to the publication of ‘The Way Forward’ document by the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1989. His work in this field was acknowledged in 1998 when he was appointed Grand Master’s Standard Bearer for that year.
His work in Masonic research led him to be appointed the Richard Robinson Memorial Lecturer for the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim in 1996, 2004 and 2007. Probably his greatest pleasure has been the many opportunities to address non Masonic Groups such as local History societies throughout the Island and to government funded folk history days for Ballymoney, Coleraine, Letterkenny and Ballymena Council groupings. Here he has been able to take the message of Irish Freemasonry to a non-Masonic audience.
In October 2010, he received an invitation to participate in a worldwide lecture series endorsed by the Grand Lodge of Indiana. The endeavour aimed to raise Masonic awareness and inspire discussion and debate across the world. This very successful initiative gave Robert a great platform to present the story of Irish Freemasonry and its many gifts to Freemasonry at large. This presentation is still available on the World Wide Web under the title of “The Gift of Irish Freemasonry” and has brought Robert a new international audience of some 90,000 viewers worldwide, over the last four years.
As a result of these activities on the 15th January 2011 Robert opened the first dedicated Irish Masonic website www.irishfreemasonry.com which was set up initially to inform Irish Brethren about their History and has now grown into a shop window into Irish Freemasonry for anyone around the globe with an interest in Irish Freemasonry. The website has attracted over 200,000 hits in the last three years bring in viewers from some 140 countries worldwide.