Monday, September 3, 2012

Quakers in Eustace Street

The Religious Society of Friends – known as Quakers – originated in the religious turmoil of mid-17th century England as a simple, non-conformist part of the Christian church.

In Ireland, the movement spread quickly to many parts of the land. In Dublin there was a considerable Meeting House in Meath Place by 1687, which soon proved to be inadequate and was supplemented by a new Meeting House in Sycamore Alley (1692) with a later entrance to Eustace Street.

Quaker Worship is based on silence and has no set form of liturgy. It needs only a convenient place for Friends to gather. Buildings are simple and practical and may be used for many other purposes.

The Gallery 1878 - Cinema 1

The Eustace Street complex was the place of worship to a sizeable number of Friends for almost 300 years. It also housed the National Offices of the Society and hosted the National Yearly meeting of Friends in Ireland. Later the Historical Archives and Membership details were kept in a strong room.

Over the years many ancillary activities and events took place. For example, in 1826 a visit by Elizabeth Fry, the English Quaker Prison Reformer, took place. In the 19th century the Central Relief Committee was formed in Eustace Street and was the base for the Quaker Famine Relief Programme and from 1970 to 1980 ANCO sponsored a training school for the unemployed people who were taught furniture repair and upholstery.

The Lecture Room - 1912 - Cinema 2

Declining numbers and growing suburban Meeting Houses meant that in 1987 the Meeting House was sold to the Irish Film Institute. An adjacent property (nos 4/5 Eustace Street), which and been purchased in 1817 and rebuilt, was now adopted to house a Meeting House where public Quaker Meetings for Worship are held every Sunday morning and on Thursday evenings.

David Poole
Member of the Eustace St Meeting

Afternoon Talk: Quakers on Eustace Street will be on Wednesday, September 5th (15.00), as part of  IFI20: Celebrating 20 Years in Temple Bar.

In this informal talk, current members of the Eustace Street Meeting will reflect on the heritage of the Quakers in Ireland, their current activities and of the buildings at 5-6 Eustace Street in particular. This is also a chance to see some video footage of the buildings as they were when still in use as a Meeting House in the 1980s. This event is FREE but ticketed; please email the IFI Box Office or call 01 679 3477 to book your seat.

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