13 April 2023
By Tom Collins
The Irish launch of a new historical fiction novel about County Cork’s own Lady Freemason is taking place this week. Author Kathleen Aldworth Foster is traveling to Cork for a handful of events.
Doneraile Court: The Story of The Lady Freemason is based on the true story of Elizabeth St Leger Aldworth and what took place at Doneraile Park Estate in County Cork back in 1712.
“The book brings to life the night Elizabeth was caught spying on Freemasons in the middle of an initiation ritual at Doneraile Court, forcing them to make a life-or-death decision,” says the author. Elizabeth received a full Masonic funeral upon her death in 1775. She is buried beneath St Finbarre’s Cathedral in Cork.
Kathleen first heard about The Lady Freemason while Egypt on New Year’s Eve 2000 (Y2K). “A man studying Egyptian ties to Freemasonry told me I share the Aldworth name with the first female Mason,” said Foster, “That sparked a genealogical quest that confirmed Elizabeth is not one of my great-great grandmothers. However, my research led to the birth of this book.”
Foster is listed with the Masonic Instruction Speakers Bureau. She will present at Freemasons’ Hall in Cork on Friday, April 14 at 7pm. Dinner tickets are sold out, but lecture only tickets are still available. To reserve, email Eamonn Connaughton at E.Connaughton@ucc.ie. Book sale proceeds will go to the Freemasons’ Hall Building Fund.
Other events include a book signing at Philip’s Bookshop in Mallow from 12-1pm on Saturday, April 15. A small, private reading will follow at Doneraile Court.
From 5 to 7pm, a book signing and launch party will take place at Café Townhouse Doneraile. RSVP is required via Facebook or email. Proceeds from book sales will go to local charities.
Kathleen’s branch of the Aldworth family immigrated to the US from Bandon, County Cork in the early 1800s. Another branch stems from Castlerea, Roscommon. Her paternal great-grandfather, Francis J. Cunnane, was an IRA Volunteer in the War of Independence who spent years on the run as part of a flying column before immigrating to Pennsylvania with his wife Katherine Beirne Cunnane in 1925.