John Wesley Visits Galway

by Samuel J. Maguire

The article 'John Wesley Visits Galway' consists of extracts from Wesley's One and Twenty Visits to Ireland by the Rev. Robert Haire of Manorhamilton and mentions the places visited and the characters encountered by Wesley.

Wesley did not on his first visit to Ireland in 1747 reach the west.

On Sunday, 7th May, on his second visit the following year, Wesley preached at 5am in Athlone and later in the morning he rode to Aughrim - twenty miles distant. He went to morning prayers (so called) at noon, and was entertained to a "warm" sermon against enthusiasts. Nevertheless the whole congregation listened to him as he preached in the open, at the close of the church service and Mr. Samuel Simpson, J.P., of Oatfield, invited him to dinner. After dinner he hastened back to Athlone.

Mr. Simpson built the first Methodist Preaching House in Athlone at his own expense. At this period Mr. and Mrs. Wade of Fairfield, and Mr. David Wakefield, also a member of the parish, embraced the Gospel, opened their houses to the Methodist preachers, and continued to be good supporters of early Methodism. The descendants of David Wakefield, to the fifth generation at least, identified themselves with the followers of Wesley.

On Monday Wesley rode to Aughrim and preached at 7pm and then had the pleasure of seeing Mr and Mrs Simpson and their daughter join the society. Next day, at the request of the Rev. Mr Glass, Rector of Ahascragh, he preached at the door of the Rectory as the Roman Catholics present dared not go into a Protestant Church. On Wednesday, 10th Wesley preached again, and then, accompanied by Mr Wade of Aughrim, rode to Eyrecourt and preached in the Market House. On 18th June, after preaching in Athlone, Wesley hastened to Aughrim where he endeavoured to awaken a serious but sleepy congregation. On the following day he visited some place of refuge, he was granted a patch of woodland called Coilsacaul beside the village of Bresk, which is quite near the present monastery. Here a large college flourished to which students flocked from places as far as Cork and Donegal.