Ballitore Index


The restored house of Mary LeadbeaterBallitore first developed during the late 17th century as a Quaker settlement after two Quakers, John Bancroft and Abel Strettel established a farm in the area.

Ballitore takes its name from the Gaelic 'Baíle' meaning a town, and 'Togher' meaning a marsh.

The Quakers from Yorkshire who founded Ballitore, transformed the valley into rich fertile farmlands, and developed the town as a Quaker Settlement.   In fact, Ballitore is the only planned and permanent Quaker Settlement in Ireland.  

Ballitore is home to several historical buildings, including The Meeting House, which  was built around 1708 and the Leadbeater house. It was the home of Mary Shackleton Leadbeater the daughter of
Abraham Shackleton, who in 1707 opened a small boarding school which attracted pupils from all over Ireland as well as overseas.  Mary demonstrated an early ability for creative writing and in 1791 married William Leadbeater, former pupil and teacher at the school.   Through Mary Leadbeater's 'Annals of Ballitore' a very important historical legacy was left to the people of the village.  Within these writings, she describes the events and characters of Ballitore during her lifetime.
During the rising of 1798 Ballitore was pillaged and burned by both troops and insurgents.   The Quakers played key roles in restoring and rebuilding the village.

In 1841 the village had a population of 441.  In 1986 the population was 290.
Today, a small museum, numerous buildings and the old village cemetery reflect the Quaker Tradition.


In 1975 the Meeting House of the Society of Friends which had fallen into ruin was restored by Kildare County Council and it has served as the library for the Ballitore area since then.  The Museum, which is incorporated into the library contains a selection of artifacts and memorabilia of a mainly local nature. 

Items of a Quaker interest also feature and include a wedding dress and bonnet worn by Marian Richardson at Ballitore in 1853.
In the entrance hall are the door and lintel stone from the original Shackleton home at Harden in Yorkshire which was built in 1660.  Also in the entrance hall is a ledger dated 1807-1810 for the Shackleton mills at Lucan.
Amongst the Ballitore manuscripts on display are Shackleton letters, notebooks which contain water colours by Mary Shackleton and the Ballitore Magazine for July 1809.
The Leadbeater House


The majority of the original Quaker buildings are now very much neglected.   Mary Leadbeater's house is situated on the corner of the village square. Her parents' house, known as the "Retreat", now houses the Avonmore Creamery Offices.   From one of the windows over looking the village square Mary Leadbeater witnessed at first hand the cruelty of the 1798 Rebellion.  Her accounts of what happened in Ballitore represent one of the few independent descriptions of events in Ireland during the Rebellion.
The house has been painstakingly restored, ensuring it's preservation and celebrating it's place in the history of County Kildare. 

For more information on quakers visit The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Ireland website

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