Category Archives: News and Events

IYM 2023 Public Lecture, Friday 14th April 2023

The title of this year’s lecture was: Hospitality & the Pilgrim: a Quaker’s reflection on communion and community given by Harvey Gillman.

A copy of his pre-talk text is available here via this link.

Or you can watch a recording of Harvey’s talk here >>

Through reflections on his own life journey, Harvey, who is a Member of Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, explores spirituality as a process of hospitality.

Harvey (who describes himself as a seeker, finder, explorer, discoverer, dissident, exile, would-be poet and heretic!) sees every human being as a pilgrim.

“We look for meaning, a sense of belonging and a way to act in the world which seem true to our experiences,” he says. “The self, the other, and the world itself are inter-related. How do we forge links in a world that often seems to pull us apart?”

Harvey, who was brought up in the Jewish tradition and joined Quakers as an adult, says he has always desired the constancy of community and that Friends/Quakers offered him the hospitality he was looking for and a space in which to breathe.

You can see a selection of Harvey’s books here.


Registration is now OPEN for Ireland Yearly Meeting 2023 which will be held from the 13th to the 16th of April 2023 at the Dominican Retreat Centre, Tallaght, Dublin.

Special Interest Groups will be held, online, from Sunday 9th to Wednesday 12th of April at 19:30.

A copy of the Programme is available here.

Registration for Ireland Yearly Meeting 2023 is on Eventbrite via this link.

You will be automatically registered for The Public Lecture also.

You can download General Information and Volunteering forms in either PDF format or Word document format.

Anyone interested in attending the Life Reflections Special Interest Group online on Monday 10th April 2023 should download Dan Flynn’s Life Reflections booklet.

From Disappointment to Hope: Actions and Responses to Climate Breakdown

To mark International Day of Climate Action 2022 (24th October), EcoQuakers Ireland has released a video of the sustainability gathering it hosted in Cork earlier this year.

The title of the event was ‘From Disappointment to Hope: Actions and Responses to Climate Breakdown’ and the speakers were Brían Ó’Súilleabháin, Convenor of EcoQuakers Ireland, Rev Andew Orr, Chair of Eco-Congregation Ireland, and Caroline Robinson, a Cork-based organic farmer.

Fran Brady of Dublin Meeting, who is the Religious Society of Friends representative on Eco-Congregation Ireland and a member of the EcoQuakers Ireland committee, wrote the following report about the gathering:

On 23rd April 2022 the EcoQuaker Munster Gathering was held in Cork Meeting House, against the backdrop of the Loving Earth Project, an exhibition of textile panels created by Quakers to celebrate the earth and to highlight how the earth is endangered by climate change. Thirty-seven people attended.

The objective of the gathering was to encourage those present to be active on issues of climate justice, loss of biodiversity and other environmental concerns within their Quaker Meetings or churches, as well as in their everyday lives.  

The gathering opened with a period of reflection during which attendees could briefly share something about their environmental story.

One nurse spoke of 80,000 trees planted by a Co. Cork nurse to offset the huge environmental footprint of health services.

A Sabbath for the land every seven years and a Jubilee year after 47 years to give the land a rest was lauded.

The many and varied contributions set the tone for an inspiring Gathering, where three excellent speakers spoke on the topic: “From Disappointment to Hope: Actions and Responses to Climate Breakdown

Brían Ó Súilleabháin, actor and convenor of the Eco Quaker Ireland Committee, charted the work of EcoQuakers since the World Quaker Gathering in Peru called on Quakers to live out the changes needed to sustain the Earth as home to humans and the natural world.  Following on this call, Ireland Yearly Meeting 2016 asked Meetings to develop sustainability plans no matter how simple.

Twenty Quaker Meetings, two-thirds of all Meetings or Worship Groups, prepared plans. A booklet entitled Responding to IYM 2016: Living sustainably and fairly on this earth was published then by EcoQuakers and in 2020 Quakers and Ethical Investment  was published.

A survey of Meetings early in lockdown showed a willingness to be sustainable but a need for a blueprint. This revelation led to the researching, compiling and publishing in 2021 of Regenerating our Common Home: Quaker Considerations for Restoration and Protection of the Environment. This book shows how our everyday activities can contribute to pollution, desertification, bio-diversity loss, extraction of fossil fuel and climate change. A step-by-step guide as to how to make a difference within and outside our Meetings, the book provides definitions and calculations for sustainability, carbon zero, carbon neutral and many other concepts. The final chapter is a case study of the eco-refurbishment of Cork Meeting House, which provided EcoQuakers with a wonderful space for the gathering,  

Rev Andrew Orr, Anglican Priest-in-Charge of Youghal Union, Chaplain to Midleton College and Chair of Eco-Congregation Ireland (ECI) spoke about Eco-Congregation Ireland, founded in 2005, to encourage and mentor churches and congregations along their sustainable journeys. ECI’s affiliated congregations are Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Environmental measures can be incorporated into all aspects of life: Spiritual, Practical, Community and Global. It’s under these headings that congregations are assessed for an Eco Award. A Gold Award has been initiated for congregations who accomplish exceptional environmental work after their initial award and who mentor another congregation.

The gift of God’s creation is celebrated especially at the Season of Creation and Harvest Time while Climate Justice Candles raise awareness of environmental justice in churches and congregations. Andrew spoke about the challenges, and opportunities, of endeavouring to make buildings and land as sustainable as possible. Climate Stewards, a web-based tool, enables churches to measure the carbon footprint of different activities; energy, travel, food, waste, water and other expenditure. The All Ireland Pollinator Plan, an initiative to aid bio-diversity and sustainable land use, is ideal for churchyards and burial grounds.

Organic farmer Caroline Robinson, who has been growing food without chemicals for nearly a quarter of a century, said it is humbling to work with nature and iterated that, if chemicals are avoided, land gets better and better. Her belief is that healthy soil results in healthy vegetables, rather than trying to feed vegetables planted in impoverished soil.  There is freedom and independence attached to growing food, especially in the current world situation.

Caroline and her husband produce local food for local people, making their food available at local Farmers’ Markets. In the small group discussions, and the plenary session which followed, food sovereignty, including indigenous food sovereignty, featured strongly. Indigenous crops grown over many years regenerated land rather than depleting it. Indigenous people have much to teach us about food and farming. Though climate scientists often overlook traditional knowledge, conglomerate farmers are devoid of the innate knowledge and wisdom gained over generations, which keep small farming systems in balance. Food conglomerates tend to homogenise food systems, reduce variety of crops and ignore natural harmony.

Andrew finished his talk with a quote from the Ecumenical Patriarch Batholomew of Constantinople: “The real crisis lies not in the environment – which suffers the consequences of our actions –  but in the human heart. The fundamental problem is to be found not outside but inside ourselves, not in the ecosystem but in the way we think about, perceive, and treat this ecosystem.

You can find out more about EcoQuakers Ireland here.

The Friendly Podcast – a collection of Quaker voices

Welcome to The Friendly Podcast – a collection of Quaker voices!

The Friendly Podcast is an Ireland Yearly Meeting production featuring Quakers of all ages and backgrounds, at home and abroad, sharing their experiences and views as 21st century Friends/Quakers.

The Friendly Podcast is available on a number of platforms, including Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Apple Podcasts as well as our YouTube channel. Or you can access it at the links below.

In Episode 10 Hugh O’Farrell-Walsh interviews:

  • Charles Lamb, Roscrea Meeting, Ireland Yearly Meeting
  • Mason George, Illinois Yearly Meeting, USA
  • Danica Buchanan-Wollaston, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, USA

Episode 9:

Liberty Britton, New York Yearly Meeting, USA

Jonny Wigham, Churchtown Meeting, Ireland Yearly Meeting

Joan Johnson, Waterford Meeting

This is the first series of the podcast. We would love to hear your feedback! Feel free to email your comments to Quaker House at

Hope, renewal, healing: Ireland Yearly Meeting, 2022

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.  (Romans 12:12)

Margaret Fraser

“We came as visitors, but you made us feel at home.”

“It was wonderful to have so many inspirational speakers. That gives me hope.”

“It’s important to have perspectives from across Europe and the rest of the world.”

“I want to say a big thank you for all the help.”

“It was a wonderful first visit to Ireland; now I carry Ireland Yearly Meeting in my heart.”

At the closing session, participants from other European countries rose to express gratitude for the four-day residential meeting. A member of the host Yearly Meeting added:

“I commend the clerking team and the Programme Committee for planning such a full and rich programme, expediting business to allow space for a truly enriching Yearly Meeting.”

“Hi folks. You here for the wee convention?” When the security guy at the campus gate of Stranmillis University College greeted us on the first morning, I knew that, at the third attempt (the first two years thwarted by Covid) we truly were gathering in Belfast. Like the other major denominations, Quakers have never accommodated to the political border set in place in 1921, and Ireland Yearly Meeting covers the island of Ireland.

During our opening worship Patrick Kavanagh’s poem, The Long Garden was read. It begins:

It was the garden of the golden apples,

A long garden between a railway and a road,

In the sow’s rooting where the hen scratches

We dipped our fingers in the pockets of God…

A letter of greeting from Britain Yearly Meeting was read out, together with a summary of other Yearly Meetings’ epistles. The effects of Covid and expressions of hope had been a theme running through all of them, with invitations to draw nearer to God being a common theme among the African and Latin American yearly meetings.

We heard that attendance at Meetings for Worship throughout Ireland had fallen during the pandemic. Responses to hybrid worship had been mixed, with some meetings not wanting to participate, and others engaging readily. At the Yearly Meeting sessions, we embraced it. In addition to parts of Ireland, Friends zoomed in from Britain, Burundi, the Republic of Georgia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Russia, and the USA. Between a quarter and a third of those present were on Zoom. It was also good to have the in-person participation of visitors from Belgium, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and the USA. Visitors also joined us from the Belfast Jewish Community, the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church.

Barbara Luetke zoomed in across the Atlantic to describe her ministry of writing Quaker historical novels. Given the disapproval of earlier generations of Friends of music, art and fiction, it was refreshing to hear of her approach as a means of outreach. Barbara’s novel The Kendal Sparrow features Elizabeth Fletcher, one of George Fox’s early community. Barbara said that while we often think of the Valiant Sixty as middle-aged, many were aged between 15-30. Women were less visible than men, because most were illiterate and did not keep journals. She invited us to compare early Friends with movements such as Occupy and Black Lives Matter. Our own Yearly Meeting youth movement was nurtured through parallel sessions for children and young people, and we delighted in Public Lecturer Lynn Finnegan’s baby, who attended in person.

Composite group photo, with those attending online appearing in the arc of photos above.

Representatives of Quaker organizations addressed global issues. We heard from Tim Gee of Friends World Committee for Consultation, Jaqueline Stillwell of Right Sharing of World Resources, Esther Mombo of St Paul’s University, Kenya (via Zoom), Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge of the Quaker United Nations Office, Geneva and Joëlle DuBois, a board member of the Quaker Council for European Affairs.

Some of the lessons I took away are:

  • Intervisitation is our connective tissue.
  • George Fox’s 400th birthday next July will bring many opportunities for outreach and celebration, especially for children.
  • The power of ‘enough’ is an important spiritual discipline.
  • The love of God ripples out. Think of yourself as an instrument of change. God is walking with you. Remember that you are loved. That love will change your life – and someone else’s.
  • Many women in Africa experience discrimination through the sexism, culture, and legacy of colonialism. By joining together in prayer meetings, they challenge the patriarchy.

Writer and artist Lynn Finnegan gave the public lecture on Embodying the Quaker Testimonies in Service of a Living Planet: The Challenge of Asking Beautiful Questions. Among those who have influenced her are Naomi Klein, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Joanna Macy, John O’Donoghue, Parker Palmer and Victoria Safford. Some of what I learned:

  • How we talk about something affects how we think of it.
  • Nature is sacred.
  • Capitalism trains us to look at a world of commodities.
  • Don’t jump ship to one side, stand in the gap, the ‘tragic gap’ (Parker Palmer) between what is and what could be. The gap is where the action is.

The recording and text of the Public Lecture are now posted on the Yearly Meeting’s website:

International folk dancing at the IYM 2022 social evening.

The other main theme was encapsulated in the session called Peace in Europe and Beyond. It began with a reading of a passage by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Restorative Justice, followed by passages from Scripture: John 14:27, 2 Corinthians 13:11, and Romans 12:2.

After suffering a year’s solitary confinement in Apartheid South Africa, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge served as Deputy Minister of Defence. She reminded us of Nelson Mandela’s words that courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to overcome it. After her release, and now a defence minister, she would sit quietly and ask for the Light to guide her to challenge the military doctrine that to achieve peace we must prepare for war. She invited us to prepare for peace.

Mikhail Elizbarashvili of the Republic of Georgia heard a call to collect medical supplies and take them, in person, to Ukraine. He described his two-day journey from Tbilisi to Kyiv and Irpin. He said that there are 20,000 Ukrainian and 40,000 Russian refugees in Georgia.

Our societies are becoming increasingly militarized, and ‘neutrality’ appears fragile. It’s complicated. The General Secretary of NATO often uses the phrase ‘pre-positioned’. How would it look if we were ‘pre-positioned’ for peace?  How can the early days of the peace testimony inform the present? Or Isaac Penington’s Magistrate’s Protection of the Innocent (1661)? Sydney Bailey’s 1993 Swarthmore Lecture, Peace is a Process, offers a conceptual framework. The World Council of Churches has adopted the doctrine of Just Peace, replacing Just War, thanks to the work of Quaker and other Historic Peace Church representatives. One by one, Friends from various countries offered suggestions. We hope to explore further what our contemporary peace testimony might mean to us, individually and as a society.

David Gamble with his
Uillean pipes at the social evening 

For more than a decade, Margaret Fraser has accompanied North American Friends to Ireland Yearly Meeting. She has now moved to Northern Ireland.

IYM 2022 Public Lecture

‘Embodying the Quaker Testimonies in Service of a Living Planet: The Challenge of Asking Beautiful Questions’ was the title of this year’s public lecture, which took place on 12th August during Ireland Yearly Meeting 2022 at Stranmillis College, Belfast .

Quaker illustrator, editor and environmental consultant, Lynn Finnegan, delivered an inspiring and challenging lecture on the topic.

She encouraged us to be guided by the divine Inner Light and the Quaker Testimonies of peace, justice, truth, equality and simplicity, which she described as anchors to live by.

Lynn challenged us to each find our own way to love the Earth, reminding us that faith and action nourish each other.

She also asked us to consider whether surrendering ourselves to the way of Love might, perhaps, be our spiritual gift to the environmental movement.

To watch a recording of Lynn’s lecture, click this link.

To read Lynn’s script, click here.