Legend says that the Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri was founded in 1697 BC by the King of Ireland, back in a time when Ireland possessed highly developed literature. An ancient book entitled The Annals of the Four Masters of Ireland tells of the Knights of the Collar of Eri as instituted by King Eamhium and his eight princes over the armies of the four provinces of Ireland, i.e.: Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught.
The ancient Knightly Order was comprised of four groups: Ollamhs (teachers and knight hospitallers); Brehons (judges); Crimthears (priests); and the Bards (historians and record keepers).
A lodge of this Order is called a Faslairt and is supposed to represent an armed camp in the field. The Order possesses two Psalters (books): the Major Psalter being the rituals, and the Minor Psalter comprising the laws and rules of the Order.
This degree is the pinnacle of the Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD) but differs greatly between England and the US. In England, the Order itself is an invitational body requiring members to achieve a pre-requisite minimum status of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) Grade VI. The degrees then conferred are (1) Man-at-Arms, (2) Esquire, (3) Knight, (4) Knight Commander, and (5) Grand Cross.
In the American AMD, the Red Branch is an honorary degree conferred upon members for meritorious service.
The emblem of the degree used by the AMD in the US is a white Salem Cross with a red branch superimposed sinister (to the viewer’s right). In England, the emblem used by the Grand Mur-Ollamham is an Irish cross in red, superimposed on a green circle. Both of these emblems are used by the AMD in Canada.