Information about Quaker History

The articles in this section are intended to provide a broad introduction to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Ireland (and elsewhere) in a brief and easily readable form.

They have been adapted from a series of illustrated panels in colour compiled and produced by members of Monkstown Meeting and displayed in Meeting Houses and other places throughout Ireland during 2004. This was the 350th anniversary of the first recorded Meeting for Worship in Ireland in 1654. A number of events were held to commemorate the anniversary – see Events in 2004 in the Archive section.

‘The Religious Society of Friends’ is the official title. Members first began to be called ‘Quakers’ soon after the foundation of the Society; this is really a nickname, but is now more commonly used than the official title. The words ‘Friend’ and ‘Quaker’ are interchangeable.

What is The Religious Society of Friends?

  • Profile
    How it Began; Quakers Today; “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity”
  • George Fox
    “Let all nations hear the word…be obedient to the Lord God and go through the world and be valiant for the Truth upon earth…then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one”
  • What Friends believe
    “We Friends are hesitant about making statements regarding our beliefs. Each member is likely to use different words to express their own particular interpretation….”
  • Organisational structures
    In Ireland there are 29 local, 7 Monthly, 3 Quarterly Meetings and 1 Yearly Meeting. There are 1,600 members in the whole of Ireland, and Sunday attendance at Meetings for Worship throughout Ireland totals about 600.
  • Friends’ Testimonies
    There are certain matters where we feel particularly strongly that our inner convictions should be given outward expression, and we call these our “testimonies”.
  • The Queries
    The intention of these queries is to encourage each of our members to examine whether he or she, in their daily life, is devoted to God, as a Christian, and in dependence on the Holy Spirit.
  • Learning about Friends:
    Over the last 350 years many of the spiritual insights of ordinary Friends have been recorded and published. Irish Friends’ “Christian Experience” is currently being revised and British Friends’ “Quaker Faith & Practice” was last brought up-to-date in 1998….. A selection of quotations is given…
  • How do I join the Society?
    While The Religious Society of Friends does not seek to change people’s religious affiliations, anyone who appears to be
    sincerely desirous to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who finds the Meeting for Worship helpful, and who is in general agreement with
    Friends as to the non-necessity of outward Sacraments, and the unchristian character of war, is welcome to become a member. This section explains an approximate sequence in becoming a member, the differences between a Member and an Attender, and what might be expected
    of a Member. It is not a case of paying a yearly membership fee – one needs to be ‘convinced’, and to live in the manner of Friends.

Friends Today

  • Meetings for Worship
    There are thirteen Meetings in Ulster, ten in Leinster, six in Munster and two in Connaught.
  • A Quaker Meeting – from a recently joined Friend’s perspective.
    Someone approaching the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for the first time might wonder what to expect…
  • The World Family of Friends
    The Friends World Committee for Consultation facilitates contact between Yearly Meetings, small groups and isolated Friends around the world. Each Yearly Meeting is autonomous, and there is considerable diversity.
  • Further Information about Friends
    Young Friends, Care of the Elderly, Conference Centres, Europe…
  • Recent Irish Quaker service
    Quaker Cottage in Belfast, ‘Faith in Action’ projects, prison visiting…
  • Friends’ Schools
    Current and historic..

Historical Background

For additional information see Books & Archive.

NB The words ‘Friend’ and ‘Quaker’ are interchangeable.

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