Members of the West Wicklow Historical Society spent a very informative morning in the south Kildare village of Ballitore on Saturday 22 July 2023. Author, playwright and broadcaster John Mac Kenna treated us to an absorbing tour of key sites associated with the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers who settled in Ballitore from the latter part of the seventeenth century. We also learned about Ballitore’s most famous resident, Mary Leadbeater nee Shackleton (1758-1826). Mary’s journals published as the Annals of Ballitore continue to function not only as a valuable contemporary insight into late-eighteenth and early nineteenth-century village life, but also as an unbiased account of the impact of the 1798 rebellion on the local population.

Members visited the Quaker Museum located at Ballitore Library (formerly the home of Mary Leadbeater), which show-cases some very informative displays and a number of charming and unusual artefacts. Our group also spent time in the recently restored Quaker Meeting House, built in 1708, where John concluded his captivating talk, and then patiently and comprehensively answered our many questions. Thank you John for a thoroughly enjoyable and very informative morning.

Photo (courtesy of Aaron Gorman) : View of the former home of Mary Leadbeater, and now Ballitore Library and Quaker Museum.

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