Methodists in Ireland

The 2017 Third Quarter issue of Irish Roots Magazine is out. On the cover is the striking “Kindred Spirits” sculpture, nine stainless steel eagle feathers nearly 23 feet tall. 

The sculpture honors the Choctaw Nation, which came to the aid of the Irish people in 1847 by collecting $170 (equivalent to $4400 today) and sending it to help feed the starving Irish. The June 2017 dedication of the sculpture in County Cork is reported on one of the first pages of the latest Irish Roots Magazine.

So what does that have to do with Methodists in Ireland? Steven Smyrl’s column (called “…and another thing…”) appears on the next page of the magazine. In this issue he “reflects on the myriad of Irish Methodist records available and how a brand new chapter now begins in telling the story of Irish Methodism.”

I learned much from reading Smyrl’s article and will try to summarize its contents here.

The Methodist Historical Society of Ireland (MHSI) maintains an archive repository in Belfast and publishes an annual Bulletin, a scholarly and substantial work on the history of Irish Methodism. MHSI’s website – – is home to several online databases of interest to genealogists:

  1. Names and years of service of Methodist ministers who served in various Irish Methodist denominations. Typically the entry shows the minister’s birth/death and dates the name appears in conference minutes. More information may be available by emailing the Society’s archivist;
  2. Brief histories of 126 Methodist churches across Ireland;
  3. Index of references to Methodist preaching houses and churches (helpful in identifying when Methodism came a particular location in Ireland);
  4. Several hundred obituaries (from the Methodist Newsletter published 1971-2013 and the magazine of the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists, 1823-1878);
  5. A catalogue of the Society’s archives, with holdings going back to the 1740s and into the late 20th century. Documents from Dublin have recently been transferred to the “high-spec” main archive in Belfast where all Irish Methodist records are now centralized.

Smyrl spent 25 years curating the Dublin records, predominantly from churches in counties Louth, Meath, Dublin, Wicklow, Carlow and Wexford and dating back to the 1820s. The records for the Dublin area are listed in his 2009 book, Dictionary of Dublin Dissent — Dublin’s Protestant Dissenting Meeting Houses 1660-1920.

All that and more, just on page 5 of the Autumn issue! Virtually every article is jam-packed with information! Here are a few titles:

  • Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland by Steve Dolan
  • Tracing your Derry Ancestors by James G. Ryan
  • Ceneal Eoghain – A New Chapter Emerges in Ulster by Cathal Coyle
  • Using the Most Popular DNA Test by Dr. Maurice Gleeson
  • What’s New? Review by Claire Santry
  • The Top 300 Names of Derry-Londonderry by Brian Mitchell
  • Irish Place Names and Families: Part 3 – Leinster by Kevin Flanagan Coombs
  • Irish Soldiers in Australia by Jennifer Harrison

You can purchase a printed or digital copy online at

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