Ballykeel Olive Branch RBP 784 encamped at Ballykeel in the County of Down was instituted on foot of a Warrant issued to Sir Knight William John Hanna the first Worshipful Master on 31st October 1910. Under the direction of Comber Royal Black District Chapter No.10 its members held their first meeting in Ballykeel Orange Hall on that date.
Although beginning well, the Preceptory in the early years struggled at times, and just after the Great War was at a low ebb with consideration being given to the handing in of the Warrant. However, help was at hand! Four brothers, David, Robert, John and James Jeffrey from Killarn who were members of Loyal Orange Lodge 417 applied for and were accepted as members thus turning the tide and beginning rejuvenation.
A strong bond developed between LOL 417 and RBP 784 which remains to this day, and the families, which have provided the membership for these organisations, have developed lasting friendships down through the years. This is clearly evident to visitors attending the lodge room and the various social events, which are arranged throughout the year.
Comber District Chapter to which RPB 784 was first attached was a travelling District holding meetings in Comber and surrounding Orange Halls; Ballygowan, Raffery, and Drumrea to name a few. the Officers and Sir Knights had to travel quite a bit when attending these meetings but this did not deter them from doing so in support of the District Chapter. The District Officers who in their turn attended the Preceptory meetings on a regular basis reciprocated this loyalty.
When in 1956 a District Chapter was formed in Bangor, RBP 784 applied to join. the application was accepted and the members first attended the Bangor District Chapter Meetings in December 1956. This proved to be a very happy time for the membership and many of the Sir Knights have been privileged to serve in the various offices within the Bangor District Chapter.
The Sir Knights of RBP 784 have, over the years received much valued support and encouragement from their wives, families and friends who have helped and assisted at the various social functions organised by the members. Indeed without this assistance, many of these events would not have taken place and the Sir Knights of RBP 784 owe much of their success to the unstinting support they have received from this quarter over the years.
In 2010, the Sir Knights of RBP 784 celebrated their Centenary Year in a very memorable yet unique way. For the 2010/2011 term of office our Past Worshipful Master Sir Knight William Harris was reinstated as Worshipful Master for this special year. What is more unique is the fact that Sir Knight William Harris was the Worshipful Master at our 50th Anniversary in 1960. It was felt fitting that he take the Chair once again to mark this milestone. To mark our Centenary, a special evening and dinner was held in the Masonic Hall in Newtownards on Friday 29th October 2010. Guests included the Sovereign Grand Master Sir Knight Millar Farr, County Officers, District Officers and many visiting Sir Knights (including family and friends). The historic and unique evening was a huge success and memorable for all who attended.
Sir Knight William Harris who is an Honorary member and also is 91 years of age is still a very active member of Ballykeel Olive Branch. He still attends almost every monthly meeting and function run by the Preceptory. He also still takes a keen interest Bangor Royal Black District and also at County level. His years of experience and knowledge are regularly called upon as many of us are still learning the ropes! Now in its 101st year and in a very healthy state, the Preceptory with a membership of over thirty with a good mix of young and old is looking forward to its centenary with continued hope and optimism for a very bright future with Sir Knight William Harris still presiding in the chair as Worshipful Master for 2011/2012.