Report, Leinster Quarterly Meeting, June 2015

Leinster Quarterly Meeting Enniscorthy Wexford.

Saturday June 27th 2015.

Leinster Quarterly Meeting took place in Enniscorthy on the 27th June 2015. The meeting has become renowned for the strawberries and cream following the meeting. This year was exceptional as the tea, sandwiches cakes and strawberries and cream were wonderful and friends from all over would like to express their gratitude to the ladies who prepared the wonderful feast.

Meeting commenced at 11am with thirty friends in attendance. Business meeting followed. Minutes of LQM March 2015 and LQM November 2014 were accepted.  Nominations for elders were accepted for the period June 2015 to June 2018. Nominations for Leinster Quarterly Meetings Committee and the Educational Committee were sought. These are to be brought before LQM in November 2015.

Notice was given that Edenderry will meet on the second and last Sunday of the month at 11.30 am. This arrangement is on a trial basis. A new Meeting takes place on the second Sunday of the month in Highbrook Orchard which is on the Kilkenny / Callan road. While also on a trial basis, Friends noted that interest lay in this new Meeting. A notice was also given that on Sunday the 26th July a Meeting will take place in Mountmellick in the Old Meeting House at 11.30 am. This is part of the William Edmondson homecoming (http:/ that is being organised by the family and the historical library. Following Meeting there will be a Commemoration Ceremony in Friends Burial Ground, Rosenallis, followed at 2.30 pm by a bar-b-que and picnic. This will be the first Meeting in Mountmellick in over forty years.

Friends in 1798 and its relevance to Friends experience today.

Glynn Douglas, John McKenna and Dermot Quirk gave the afternoon talks on the above topic. Glynn laid out the social background prior to the uprising. The population had increased causing competition for land, agrarian violence, the formation of secret societies and the formation of voluntary regiments by the most wealthy to protect their holdings. Friends at Yearly Meeting were concerned at the possibility of social unrest and advised Friends to dispose of any guns that they might have and to proceed in a non-violent fashion. Joseph Haughton did just that, breaking his gun in the street of Ferns but also refused to supply ropes to the militia for the purpose of hanging persons. Glynn spoke of the disturbance to Meetings but that in general Friends were left aside in the conflict. They were involved in mediation and refused compensation for any damage caused to their property. Quakers by their non-violent beliefs preserved their lives and their families.

John McKenna spoke of Ballitore and its witness to violence in 1798. Interestingly he dismissed a belief that Ballitore was a Quaker village. He noted that a community lived there prior to the Quakers arrival. They settled and developed the village and surrounding area. Mary Ledbetter was interested in the French Revolution and had acquaintances in the United Irishmen however her opinions appeared to change when she witnessed the brutality of the conflict. She became a liberal encourager and sheltered the homeless. John Bewley attempted to act as a mediator as had happened in Wexford. Quakers eventually disappeared from Ballitore and along with them went the industry. They were an emerging bourgeoisie.

Dermot Quirk spoke of the commemorations of the 1798 uprising and noted that it was John Redmond who in 1898, one hundred years after the uprising, employed commemoration as a nation building exercise. Commemorations are problematic for Quakers as they can be selective in remembering only the ‘glorious’ military dead and not the civilian casualties of war. Frequently the Religious Society of Friends in Wexford is asked to become part 1798 celebrations. Friends in Wexford accept invitations to celebrations provided there is no military aspect. Several 1798 events were in held in Friends Meeting House Enniscorthy during the bi-centenary of the Rebellion in 1998.

All three struggled to provide a relevance to the Friends experience of today. Quakers were an emerging bourgeoisie who believed in non-violence. Hence minutes from Yearly and Monthly meetings warned Friends not to join the militia regiments and to destroy their guns – a request that was only partly observed. Friends were excluded from the conflict but did suffer losses and their efforts at mediation and assistance did not go unnoticed. Perhaps Quakers are still living off the collective memory of their role in 1798 and the Great Famine. Are Quakers today still true dissenters or do we just have a soft attitude to social ills? This was the question poised by Dermot Quirk.

Report by Patrick Troy.