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The Irish Astrological Association - How it all began

by Sheila Lindsay

In 1980 the late Sheila Lindsay, a founder member and former President of the Irish Astrological Association, wrote an article about the beginning of the IAA. The original meeting was in her own home at 8pm on January 27th, 1973. I was sent a copy of the article by Fianna Griffin in 2005, which is transcribed here. The IAA disbanded during the first years of the 21st century.

It all started because Aries "blew her top" when a friend of hers was abused in a most unnecessary way. She told the attacker exactly what she thought of him; and so set in motion events that led up to the formation of the Irish Astrological Association. There's nothing like a good row to get things started, especially if there is an Aries around!

We have to go back to 1972. At that time there were a few people in the Dublin area who were members of the Churches' Fellowship of Psychical and Spiritual Studies. This is an organisation based in England, whose aims and objectives are as follows:
"The Fellowship exists for the study of the wide reaches of the paranormal and extra-sensory perception in their relation to the Christian faith. The field of study includes psychical phenomena, mysticism, creative meditation and spiritual healing."

The Fellowship publishes some excellent books, also a quarterly magazine. I was a member, so was Doris Murison, Fred Siberry and his sister, Douglas McGowan and a few others. Fred Siberry, a wonderful old man of 83, decided it would be a good idea to start a branch of the C.F.P.S.S. in Dublin, giving the local members the opportunity to attend regular meetings and discussions.

He put a carefully worded advertisment in the Irish Times, inviting anyone interested to attend; rented the Coffee Kitchen, 20 Molesworth Street, for Friday September 22nd at 8pm and wondered if anyone, besides the handful of members, would turn up

The room was quite small, it was packed to capacity that evening with a very interested audience. Mr Siberry spoke about the aims and objectives of the C.F.P.S.S.. He then asked for suggestions as to what pattern the meetings should follow. Many people gave their ideas and from these it was decided to meet once a month, arrange for someone to give a talk, followed by a discussion.

A suggestion was put forward that we should not affiliate with the C.F.P.S.S., but should form our own independent organisation. This was agreed; and so the Psychic and Spiritual Study Group was instituted. From then one we did meet once a month. We elected a committee with Mr Siberry as Chairman and I was Secretary. A Committee member gave a talk each month, followed by a general discussion.

The Committee met at 7pm, before the meeting at 8pm, so that we planned the following month's speaker then to enable us to announce the program in adbance.

On Friday January 5th 1973 it was my turn to give the talk. The subject was "Spiritual Healing". As usual we had our Committee meeting before this, to arrange the speaker for next month. Doris Murison volunteered to give a talk on Astrology. Some of us were agreeing that this should be an interesting subject, as few people knew anything about it; when we noticed that the Chairman, Mr Siberry, was looking very annoyed. He told Doris he was not having that sort of rubbish and fortune-telling in the Group.

Now Doris was a friend of mine and a qualified astrologer, holding the Diploma of the Faculty of Astrological Studies. She was a deeply spiritual and humanitarian person, who used astrology in the best possible way to help others.

I "saw red" at this attack on a friend of mine, told the Chairman what I thought of him, invited Doris to give her talk in my house, arranged the date with her immediately; and told Mr Siberry I would announce this meeting when I gave my talk to the Group tonight. I did announce it, then asked how many people would be coming? Fourteen people wanted to come to hear Doris.

On Saturday January 27th almost twice that many arrived at my housem twenty seven people were packed in, happily sitting on the floor when chairs ran out. Out of these there were only four who knew astrology; Doris Murison, who was a Diploma holder, Rosemary Roberts, who had done the Diploma course, Beverley Wright, who had been interested for some years, and Austin Byrne, who had the Certificate of the Faculty.

They each spoke and created quite an interest in astrology. We decided it would be a good idea to form a study group for people who wanted to learn the subject.

We met several times in Doris Murison's house in Dalkey. She always kept open house on Sunday afternoons. The latch-key was left in the front door and anyone was welcome to open the door and walk in. It was a discussion forum, ranging over varied subjects: astrology, Atlantis, levitation, natural healing, and many others. There was not set program, everyone joined in.

We also had ten meetings in my house that year. Eventually we agreed to put it on a proper footing and organise ourselves as the Irish Astrological Association. We asked Austin to to pick a suitable date and time to found it. He drew up a chart for May 5th 1973 at 7:08pm, the place to be my house, 3, Fairfield Park, Rathgar, Dublin. The members arrived in good time and the IAA was born as arranged. Austin was not present at the "birth"; he phoned to say he had missed the bus and would be along later. Doris was elected President and Austin was Secretary.

We put a notice in the Irish Times in July to announce the formation of the Association, in order to ensure that no other group took the name.

We had four public meetings in Liberty Hall that year, in September, October, November and December to create more interest. At the same time the monthly meetings of the P.S.S.G. continued in Molesworth Street; and we usually attended them too. Fred Siberry died in November 1973 aged 84 years; but by then the Psychic Group was well established and we were able to carry on. In March 1974 the name was changed to the Society for Psychic and Spiritual Studies, under which name it continues to function.

In 1974 the astrologers met fourteen times in my house to study. We met in Doris' house as usual; and once in Liberty Hall. We also tried to organise classes in the Theosophical Society, to revive their Hermes Lodge. These lasted about a year, then faded out.

In 1975 there were four meetings in my house, one in Austin's house, one in Roger Parris' flat and one in the Reading Centre. Doris Murison left Dalkey and went to live in Annagh, Co.Wexford. We missed her Sunday afternoon sessions.

All this time we found it very difficult to really get the Association off the ground. None of us had any organising or business ability; people came and went and there was no real continuity of classes or lectures. It was about to fall apart for lack of a practical person to organise it.

However, on February 16th 1976 Noel O'Shea told me he knew a very practical business woman who was interested in astrology and might be willing to help us. He suggested that I should phone her and invite her to come to my house to discuss the Association.

Monday February 23rd 1976 was a red letter day for the IAA. Rose Deane had accepted my invitation and came to meet me at 3pm. When one Aries meets another Aries, things are sure to start moving; especially when the second one is an extremely practical business woman, which the first one is not. Rose agreed to take us in hand; and from that moment the future of the Association was assured.

Looking back now, I think that our "airy-fairy" impracticalities must have almost driven her wild. But she stuck it out valiantly. On Thursday March 4th Rose and I and Peggy McGlynn went to Austin's house to discuss business. He said he wanted to be President. Then we had a Committee meeting in my house on the 18th; and a public meeting in the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society Hall on April 8th.

Rose arranged to hire the R and R Hall once a week for properly organised classes. Austin refused to teach. So on Wednesday May 12th 1976 at 8pm I taught the first class. We had fifteen students, many of whom are still members.

Doris invited us to her new house in Annagh on SaturdayJuly 24th for a day's seminar. She gave the first talk, Roger Parris gave the second; we had short contributions from others, with interesting discussions.

The R and R Hall was not available in September, due to their rehearsals. Once again the classes were held in my house; twice a week this time, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as Austin now agreed to teach a second level. This continued through September and October.

OnOctober 19th Doris Murison died aged 81 years, and was buried in Annagh on the 22nd. It was a break with the past, as she had known Margaret Hone, Charles Carter and others involved in the revival of astrology. I was invited to give her memorial lecture to the Wymark Group on October 26th. Many of her friends were present.

All this time Rose and I were trying to find a permanent premises for classes. In November we at last got permission to use the Quaker Meeting House on Lower Churchtown Road, and ran two classes there on Thursday evenings. At the end of June 1977 the premises were no longer available.

In the autumn, the Jesuits allowed us to use Milltown Park for a few weeks. But it was obvious that we must now look for a permanent headquarters. On October 1st Rose and I inspected a flat at 193, Lower Rathmines Road. We agreed it was ideal for our purpose. at last we had our base.

From then on the Association grew rapidly; now we have four, sometimes five classes a week. Many of our students have gained the Certificate of the faculty of Astrological Studies. We also have visiting speakers and annual conferences. In 1980 I was elected President and Aaustin left to set up his own commercial organisation. But our Association continues as a voluntary non-profit making body; none of our teachers or workers are paid. We willingly give our time, because of our desire to promote serious astrology.

In 1982 John McKeon was elected President. I did not allow my name to go forward. I wanted more time to do chart readings, as I knew that if the Association could not supply some one to read charts, potential clients would go to the commercial organisation. In 1983, Patrick McGlynn was elected President, as John did not wish to continue.

We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Rose Deane. It is through her dedicated business ability, sheer hard work and cheerful, welcoming personality that we have an Association as it is; not only a place for classes, but a place where members may drop in for a cup of tea and a chat and are always sure of a welcome.

Copyright 2005 Bill Sheeran. All Rights Reserved.