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The History of Ballyhagan and Richhill Meetings 1654 - 1793 - 2004
Chapter 10
Developments since 1900 and the way ahead

The following extract from the printed List of Members in 1913 gives an indication of the activities organised by the Preparative Meeting. This pattern had emerged by the end of the previous century but the event of the First World War saw these greatly curtailed and many were gradually discontinued. The Thursday (or Fifth Day) morning meeting did take place until the early 1930's. The Sunday evening meeting continued after the Second World War with failing attendances, and for a period met in Friends' homes and finally lapsed in the 1950's. In recent years the Preparative Meeting for Ministry and Oversight have organised about six Sunday evening programmed meetings during the winter months which have been generally well attended. Usually two of these are devoted to a Thanksgiving Service and nearer Christmas a Carol Service organised by the Younger Members and the Sunday School.

First Day 1913
9.30 a.m. Adult School for Men 10.30 a.m. Bible Class
10.30 a.m. First Day School
11.00 a.m. Meeting for Worship
3.00 p.m. First Day School for Women
2.45 p.m. First Day School at Sandymount
7.00 p. m. Mission Meeting at Fruitfield or Sandymount alternately Fifth Day
11.00 a.m. Meeting for Worship


Up to 1921 the two monthly Meetings of Grange and Richhill met on their own and generally went their separate ways. It is interesting to note that in the Province Meeting held at Ballyhagan 13/2/1695 there is a minute recommending that Friends from both meetings might find it beneficial to meet together. This does not seem to have been carried out, possibly the distance of some 15 miles between the meeting houses was a deterrent, involving as it would a long travel by horseback.

Sarah Barcroft of Stangmore, Dungannon, was a prominent member of Grange Meeting and as she approached the end of a long life, she became increasingly concerned as to the future of the business meeting (Monthly Meeting) at Grange, and it was she who suggested the amalgamation of the two meetings of Grange and Richhill to form one Monthly Meeting. Both meetings were situated in similar rural surroundings and it was her judgment that by uniting the two meetings both would be strengthened. Other concerned and responsible Friends in Grange who supported the idea were S. Edith Hobson, William Frederick Hobson, (Clerk Grange Monthly Meeting) and Isaac Edward Haydock and others. Richhill Friends seemed to welcome the proposal and it was in no small measure due to the advice and guidance given by R. Ernest Lamb that the union of the two meetings came to fruition. Details of how ably the matter was carried through can be gauged by the following extract from Minute 12 of Ulster Quarterly Meeting held 21/3/1921.

"That the Monthly Meetings be held in Grange on first, third, fifth and seventh and eleventh months, at Tamnaghmore in ninth month and the remaining six at Richhill. All the meetings to be held on the fourth day following the first First day in the month at 11 a. m. except in fifth, sixth, seventh and eight months when we would meet at 3 p.m. That our present proportions of I s. 6 d. each in the £ towards payment of the National and Provincial charges be united making the assessment for the joint Meeting 3/- until such time as a fresh revision shall be made by Quarterly Meeting. That all monies or property left in trust to the two Monthly Meetings shall continue in the case of the Particular meeting to which they now belong and shall be used as formerly in accordance with the conditions attaching thereto. That the various duties and functions pertaining to Monthly and Preparative Meeting and require our care and attention be arranged between the proposed Monthly Meeting and the subordinate Meetings in such a manner as shall lend to their efficient accomplishment in ways meet and befitting the discipline and dignity of our Society. Above all we feel that the union we seek for and hope to attain is not merely the formal linking together of our two constituent bodies. We look to the welding more closely of a spiritual bond of love whereby we may enter more fully into sympathy with each others needs and aspirations sharing one another's burdens and seeking by mutual service to encourage and uphold each other in our Holy Faith and display more effectively the banner of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Signed on behalf of Grange and Richhill Monthly Meetings.
William F. Hobson Clerk Grange Monthly Meeting
R. Ernest Lamb Clerk Richhill Monthly Meeting

Ulster Quarterly Meeting enters into sympathy with the desires expressed and on the basis of the report now unites the two Monthly Meetings to form one Monthly Meeting to be known as Grange and Richhill Monthly Meeting, trusting that the union may lead to increased life and mutual encouragement. A copy of this minute to be forwarded to the Yearly Meeting.

First met at Grange on 3/7/1921 - R. Ernest Lamb, First Clerk

Dorothy M. Sinton (Tamnaghmore) after returning from one of her many visits to America, was so favourably impressed by what she had seen of an organisation known as Quaker Women's Meeting that she felt similar gatherings would have a useful place in Ulster. Richhill was one of the first locations to accept the idea, and a Women's Meeting was commenced in 1953. As the name implies, it is a meeting for women by women, and whilst the general scope of the gathering may be wide, there is in each meeting a devotional opportunity when one of those present shares with the other members an uplifting thought, based on a scripture reading. From time to time substantial financial help has been given to projects within the meeting, as well as contributing to various charitable causes outside.

These regular gatherings have a social aspect which cannot be, overstressed, providing as they do an opportunity to meet and get to know, in a more intimate way, others within the fellowship.

Group of Friends outside Richhill Meeting House, June 1926
Taken at June Monthly Meeting held at Richhill 1926
Back Row - M. Ethel Allen, John W. Piele, Henry Pearson, George R. Chapman, Jacob Chapman.
Middle Row - Ida B. McBride (nee Pearson), Susan McDonagh, Charlotte W. Piele, Sophia Dawson, Annie McDonagh.
Front Row (seated) - Thomas W. McDonagh, Madeline McDonagh, Mary Lamb, Sarah Jane Chapman.
On Ground - Gladys Beattie, Doreen M. Piele, Joyce Pearson, Allan C. Piele.

It would be difficult to say exactly when the children of the meeting met separately in what was known as First Day School; but is now usually 'referred to as Sunday School. It was probably in the early years of the present century and at that time only a few children were involved. The situation has now changed considerably as one is impressed by the numbers of children and young people who accompany their parents to attend Sunday School and later join the Meetings for worship.

Providing suitable teaching in graded classes has been a concern of the meeting. Over the years there have been those who have been willing to act as teachers, and a tribute must be paid to those Friends who have served in this way. When Friends’ Hall was opened in 1967 it provided an ideal place in which the Sunday School classes could meet, without any fear of disturbing the meeting for worship. Undoubtedly one of the encouraging and hopeful signs about Richhill at present is to be found in the numbers of children and young people who are attending, as one day the future of the meeting will depend on them.

Burial Ground and rear of the Richhill Meeting House, 1979
Caretaker's Cottage, New Store and Gents' Toilets and Burial Ground with grass neatly cut, 1979.
Burial Ground and rear of the Richhill Meeting House, 1950
Burial Ground, 1950, showing in background Coach House, Caretaker's Store and Meeting House.
Friends Hall converted from old Coach House, opened 23rd March 1967
Friends Hall converted from old Coach House, opened 23rd March 1967

Listed separately in the appendix are some of the repairs, modernisation and improvements which have been carried out to the fabric of the buildings and grounds of the meeting over the years

If we study this list it will be evident that it has meant a sustained effort to carry this programme through. It must have brought a feeling of achievement, however, to all concerned to have been able to plan and to raise such substantial sums of money within the Meeting. There is the added satisfaction to know that this heritage which has come down to us will be handed on to succeeding generations in such good condition.


An interesting innovation, which was inaugurated in 1974, and is now held bi-annually in the Spring, is what is known as Family Sunday. Invitations are sent to former members and attenders of the meeting who may be living at a distance to return and meet with local Friends on a particular Sunday at the usual Meeting for Worship. Facilities for picnic lunch are afterwards provided before another gathering which is held in the afternoon; the type of this meeting may vary from year to year, but generally speaking it is of a programmed nature. Tea is provided by women Friends at the conclusion of what has proved to be an interesting occasion when early friendships have been renewed and spiritual food has been shared.


The story of Ballyhagan and Richhill Meeting is over so far as this history is concerned - but it is not finished - it is on-going. The founding fathers of the meeting were stalwarts, with their feet firmly planted on the Rock of Ages. They were prepared to witness and if need be to suffer for the Truth. Succeeding generations have left behind a heritage of which we may well be proud. We live in a new age and face new challenges. We thank God for the past, for those who lived in earlier days, for victories won through His Grace. We also thank Him for the present and the future, for the One who said He was the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. "We need again and again to remind ourselves that the secret of the Church's strength is not organisation. Its propagation and perpetuation are aided by many factors, some of them political, some economic and some intellectual. Yet the real reason for the continuation and expansion of the influence of Jesus is Himself. It is men and women devoted to Jesus who have been the active agents through whom the Faith has gone on".

K.S. Latourette

Each of us is called to a service and ministry; for some it may be to build bridges in the community where we live. The following verses are culled from an Amercian Quaker publication, the author is unknown -

An old man travelling a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream held no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man", said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting your strength by building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head;
"Good friend, in the path I have come", he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair?haired youth might a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him".

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