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  • Aspects of Kildare

The small village of Ballitore is located in South-East Kildare. It is the only planned and permanent Quaker village in Ireland. The land where the village now stands was purchased by two Quakers in the 1680s. They were travelling on the main Dublin to Cork road when the stopped to give their horses a rest. They were impressed by the valley with a small river flowing through it. The new settlers worked hard and transformed the valley into rich farmland. They also built flour and wool mills.

The village developed as a Quaker settlement. A Meeting House was built around 1780. In 1726, a boarding school was opened by Abraham Shackleton (an ancestor of Ernest Shackleton). The school was open to non-Qaukers, but was run on Quaker principles. Abraham's son, Richard, took over the running of the school when his father retired but restricted entry to Quakers. The school declined in the following years and eventually shut in 1801.

Abraham's grand-daughter was Mary Leadbeater. She was born in 1763, and lived all her life in Ballitore. Even though she was busy with six children to bring up, as well as working as a herbalist and the village postmistress, Mary still found time to write. In particular, her diaries tell a lot about Irish Quakers and the goings on in Ireland during her life.