Griesebank House, located in Ballitore, co. Kildare was a former school for Quakers. It was founded by Abraham Shackleton in 1726 (a fore father of the great polar explorer, Ernest Shackelton). Quakers are a relatively new Christian sect and many came to Ireland from England in the 17th century after the Cromwellian Wars and are generally known to be extremely industrious, well educated, community focused and accepting of all religious beliefs and backgrounds. Griesebank, as well as catering for Quakers also catered for local Protestant and Catholic children from the surrounding parish. Pupils came from as far away as Bordeaux, Jamaica and Norway and many stayed in a row of houses in the village whose attics had been knocked into one long room! Famous former pupils include Edmund Burke – Parliamentarian, Paul Cullen – the first Irish Cardinal and Napper Tandy – the Irish Revolutionary. It was also home to Mary Leadbeater between 1769 and 1778, a local diarist who published a number of famous books and diaries during her lifetime. These included ‘Extracts and Original Anecdotes for the Improvement of Youth’, ‘Poems by Mary Leadbeater’ and ‘The Leadbeater’s Papers’ in which her diary entries concerning the 1798 Rebellion are especially important for being an impartial observer’s account of these events. Quaker meetings are still regularly held here in the meeting house.

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