Thursday 8 December 2011

The story of an Irish Quaker family 1630-1950

Relatively little has been written about the Quakers’ industrial activities in Ireland, yet they were instrumental in creating some of the country’s largest manufacturing businesses, including many with their origins in the Midlands. Now Michael Goodbody, a member of one of those well-known and long-established Quaker families, has written a book that examines their role.

His book, The Goodbodys – Millers, Merchants and Manufacturers – The Story of an Irish Quaker Family 1630-1950, is more than just a family history. It also looks at the role the Quakers played in the Irish economy. It includes photographs dating back to the late 1800s and paintings and illustrations from even earlier.

The book follows the fortunes of the family from the time of their arrival in Ireland and conversion to Quakerism, through the ‘quiet’ years, when they were farmers, merchants and tanners, until 1825, when Robert Goodbody moved to Clara to start milling flour. He and his five sons, who were connected by marriage to some of the leading merchants and manufacturers of the day, used their increasing wealth to alleviate distress during the Famine years and then developed their business interests in Tullamore and Clara.

The Goodbodys were among the first Quaker families to settle in Mountmellick, one of the principal Quaker communities in Ireland at the time, and they remained there for eight generations.

The book is available through Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society (,, and good local bookshops. 539 pages. €40.

More about the Quakers in Ireland.