Griesebank House, Ballitore. County Kildare        1726

Griesebank House was a former school for Quakers. It was founded by Abraham Shackleton in 1726, the fore father of the great polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton. Quakers are a relatively new Christian sect and many came to Ireland from England in the 17th century after the Cromwellian Wars. They are generally regarded to be extremely industrious, well educated, community focused and accepting of all religious beliefs and backgrounds. Griesebank catered for all denominations and from all parts of the World. 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. She was a local writer who published a number of famous books and diaries during her lifetime. These included ‘Extracts and Original Anecdotes for the Improvement of Youth’ and ‘Poems by Mary Leadbeater’. Her most famous accounts are from ‘The Leadbeater’s Papers’ in which her diary entries concerning the 1798 Rebellion are especially important for having an objective view of these events. Quaker meetings are still regularly held here in the meeting house.