John Wesley's First Visit to Ireland


John Wesley landed in Dublin on the 9th August 1747, where one of his preachers, by the name of Williams, had formed a small society. The curate of St Mary’s lent him his pulpit, and his first essay was not very promising, for he preached from it, he says, to as gay and senseless a congregation as he had ever seen.

The clergyman who gave his proof of his goodwill disapproved, however, of his employing lay preachers, and of his preaching anywhere but in a church; and told him, that the Archbishop of Dublin was resolved to veto such irregularities in his diocese.

Wesley therefore called on the archbishop of Dublin, and says, that, in the course of a long conversation, he answered abundance of objections; some perhaps, he removed; and if he did not succeed in persuading the prelate of the utility of Methodism, he must certainly have satisfied him that he was not to be prevented from pursuing his own course.

Wesley’s first impressions of the Irish were very favourable: a people so generally civil he had never seen, either in Europe or America. Even when he failed to impress them, they listened respectfully.

What a nation, “he said, “is this! Every man, woman and child, except a few of the great vulgar, not only patiently, but gladly, suffer the work of exhortation!”

And he called them an immeasurably loving people. There was, indeed, no cause to complain of insensibility in his hearers, as in Scotland.

He excited as much curiosity and attention as he could desire; but if Methodism had been opposed by popular outcry, and by mobs, in England, it was not expected that it could proceed without molestation in Ireland.

In Wesley’s own words, “The roaring lion began to shake himself here also.”

John and Charles Wesley