Quaker history: an Irish account of Meeting Houses and cornerstones

Simon Baker writes

My great-grandfather, Daniel Alesbury, left England as a young man and went to Ireland, settling in the town of Edenderry where he founded a flourishing timber dealership and wood-working business. At that time he became a Friend, joining the local Meeting, and married a member of a local Quaker family.

In 1913 Edenderry Meeting celebrated the centenary of their current Meeting House. To mark the occasion, Daniel Alesbury was asked to give a talk on ‘The History of Friends in Edenderry’. I have a photocopy of the typewritten script of the talk, obtained from one of my father’s cousins.

The talk runs to over 2200 words. Here is the final section, where Daniel talks about the decline of other Meeting Houses in the area. His closing remarks are in a style which I think would not be used by many Friends today!

Daniel Alesbury, great-grandfather of present day Bath Quaker Simon Baker.

from History of Friends in Edenderry – An Essay by Daniel Alesbury

Read at the Centenary gathering at Edenderry
10th Month 1913

I do not think I have told you much about our Meeting House, for the good reason that we do not know much to tell. We know that there was an old building behind the present one and as it was too small and too old, the present one was built. At the time it was built there must have been every prospect of its being filled.

Besides this meeting house there are also meeting houses at Brackna, Timahoe and Roosk, which is near Mount Wilson. I have been told by a Roman Catholic who lives near the ruins of Timahoe Meeting House that the clay the bricks were made from was obtained from a field on his farm which is to this day called the “Brick-field”. The bricks of the meeting house were recently sold by the present owner and his action in doing so was commented upon by his Roman Catholic neighbour as being not a nice thing to have done.

I have also been told another tale about the Brackna Meeting House, and that is that the owner of the land on which it stands used some of the large stones in the building of a barn, but he became so uneasy at what he had done that he could not sleep at night, and he eventually took the stones out of the new building, and put them back into the old walls as exactly as he could into their original position.

Perhaps having said this much you will allow me to close, and referring again to the removal of the corner stones by the farmer, it seems to convey another thought. What has become of our corner stones? Where are they? Many have been called to their eternal home, but the Chief Corner Stone remains with us, the Foundation, ever sure, whose mercy we crave, and which endureth for ever. To this we turn as do all other professing Christians, stripped of all doctrine and ritual, and cry, Abba, Father save!



  1. I didn’t know the Alesbury family of Edenderry was Quaker, but I do know they started Ireland’s first car company!


  2. The Friends Community is still warmly remembered in the Edenderry area of County Offaly, Ireland ,and, most notably, for their many ‘good works’ for the duration of the Irish Famine. The Friends there established the first ‘Soup Kitchen’ in Ireland at the gate of their Meeting House .Dan and John Alesbury were ‘model employers’..


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