Our History

GFS through the years

2020


2019


2018


2017


2016


2015


2014


2013


2012


2011


2010


2009


2008


2007


2006


2005


2004


2003


2002


2001


2000


1999


1998


1996


1993


1992


1991


1990


1989


1988


1987


1986


1985


1984


1982


1981


1980


1979


1978


1977


1975


1973


1972


1967


1965


1964


1962


1960


1959


1958


1957


1956


1955


1954


1953


1952


1949


1948


1947


1944


1937


1933


1929


1928


1927


1923


1919


1914


1910


1908


1906


1905


1902


1900


1893


1890


1885


1884


1880


1878


1877


1875


World Council in South Africa postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mrs. Alison Jackson visited GFS South Africa.

Mrs Thembeka Pama visit

All Ireland Camp – 6 – 8 April 2018 – Wilson’s Hospital School, Multyfarnham, County Westmeath.

5 – 14 May 2018 – Mrs Thembeka Pama, World President began visiting cluster countries in Ireland before going to England and Wales on 14th May 2018

Mrs Alison Jackson commissioned All Ireland President in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh by Rev Tanya Woods.

22nd June – Mrs Alison Jackson, Tamara McKenzie, Amy Waters, Jennifer Wright and Victoria Hawkins attended a Garden Party at Áras an Uachtaráin celebrating the ‘Young People of Ireland and paying tribute to their Leaders’; hosted by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Mrs Sabina Higgins

22nd to 23rd June – All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents, Secretaries, Treasurers and All Ireland Vice Presidents in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Braemor Park, Dublin

For the past: Thank God
For the future: Take courage
For the present: Seek Christ’s help
To be a good friend
To stand for purity and truth
To live not for yourself, but for others,
Therein lies the joy of life.

F. Ross Todd, GFS President
For the Diamond Jubilee – 1937

140th Birthday Celebrations

21 May – 140th Birthday Celebrations: Christ Church Bray. Rev’d Tanya Woods, officiated and Rev’d Janice Aiton, former GFS Chaplain preached. The theme for this wonderful occasion was “Yesterday, Today and Forever”.

Sylvia Quinn, Senior Delegate and Tamara McKenzie, Junior Delegate commissioned by Rev Tanya Woods in Christ Church Bray.

World Council in Swan Valley Adventure Centre, Perth, Australia from 11th July –20th July. Mrs Sylvia Quinn Senior Delegate and Ms Tamara McKenzie, Junior Delegate attended. Mrs Thembeka Pama (South Africa) was commissioned World President.

9th September – Mrs Sylvia Quinn attended ‘The Big Sing’ (by invitation) in The National Concert Hall, Dublin; celebrating one hundred and thirty years of Mothers Union in Ireland (1877 – 2017)

Leader Training Days:
– Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone – 16th September
– Newbridge, Co. Kildare – 30 th September
– Carrick-on Shannon, Co.Leitrim – 7 th October

All Ireland Camp

All Ireland Camp – 31 March – 2 April 2016 – Kilkenny College, Co Kilkenny

24 April – Mrs Sylvia Quinn attended(by invitation) the Church of Ireland’s National Service ‘marking the centenary of the Easter Rising’ in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

9 – 11th September, Nineteen Leaders completed the All-Ireland/Green Lanyard course. Final stage training with commissioning in Christ Church, Leeson Park on 19 November, Dublin by Rev’d Tanya Woods, GFS Chaplain

New Past President

New Past Presidents’ Brooches designed and presented.

Mini-conference for incoming Diocesan Officers; venue GFS Oak House, Upper Leeson Street, Dublin.

Leader Training Days:
– Abbeyleix, Co. Laois – 12th September
– Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone – 19th September
– Longford, Co.Longford – 3rd September

Handbook redesigned, updated and launched at Central Council

World Council in Swansea University

All Ireland Camp – 25th – 27th April – Wilson’s Hospital School, Multyfarnham, County Westmeath.

Rev Tanya Woods commissioned as All Ireland Chaplain by Dean Dermot Dunne in Christ Church, Leeson Park, Dublin.

Sylvia Quinn, Senior Delegate and Michele Armitage, Junior Delegate commissioned by Rev Tanya.

World Council in Swansea University, Wales from 25th July – 4th August. Mrs Sylvia Quinn Senior Delegate and Ms Michelle Armitage , Cloughjordan Branch, Limerick & Killaloe Dioceses, Junior Delegate attended. Canon Val Gribble (Australia) was commissioned World President.

GFS Broadcast Service from RTE TV and Radio

GFS Broadcast Service from RTE TV and Radio – 11th August. Rev Janice Aiton presided.

All Ireland Training Day – 7th September Abbeyleix.

All Ireland Training Day – 12th September Enniskillen

All Ireland Camp

All Ireland Camp—11th -14th April St Columba‘s College, Dublin.

3 July – Elaine Grothier, Karen Morton, Hannah Goulden, Alison Bailey and Jane Smyton attended an Áras Garden Party celebrating the ‘Young People of Ireland and paying tribute to their Leaders’; hosted by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Mrs Sabina Higgins.

Mrs Sylvia Quinn commissioned All Ireland President in the CICE Chapel, Rathmines, Dublin.

All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents, Secretaries & Treasurers 22nd-24th June; Venue The Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Braemor Park, Dublin.

World Council in Dublin

World Council in Dublin Ireland 24th June—3rd July. World Chairperson Mrs Emila Corrigan; our representatives were, Mrs Florence Higgins, Senior Delegate and Miss Jane Cairns, Magheralin Branch Connor, Down & Dromore Dioceses, Junior Delegate. Mrs Glenys Payne (Wales) appointed World Chairperson.

Leaders Training Days:
3rd September Venue—The Cathedral Hall, Kilmore, Co Cavan
24th September The Parochial Hall, Portlaoise, Co Laois

GFS World Day of Prayer Service

All Ireland Camp– 7th – 10th April Kilkenny College, Co Kilkenny.

GFS World Day of Prayer Service, compiled and produced by Rev Janice Aiton, GFS All Ireland Chaplain.

All Ireland Leaders’ Training Conference 25-27th June Venue – The Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

All Ireland Leaders’ Final Stage Training – 16th October Venue – Parochial Hall, Kells, Co Meath.

All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents

All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents, Secretaries & Treasurers– Venue the D4 Hotel Ballsbridge, Dublin.

World Council in Seoul

All Ireland Camp,- 27th-30th March – St Columba’s College, Dublin.

World Council in Seoul, South Korea. Mrs Emila Corrigan Commissioned as GFS World Chairperson. Our representatives were Mrs Florence Higgins, Senior Delegate and Ms Isla Poyntz, KilmoreBranch, Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh Diocese Junior Delegate.

Garden Party at Buckingham Palace

Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, London, to mark the 50th Anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh Awards; Mrs Florence Higgins, Central President and Mrs Pearl Smyton Diocesan President of Clogher Diocese attended.

Leaders Training Days – Venues:
Church Street, Longford – 8th of September
Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone – 15th September
Portlaoise, Co Laois – 20th October

Mrs Florence Higgins commissioned as All Ireland President in St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Mrs Florence Higgins commissioned as All Ireland President in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, County Armagh by the Bishop of Meath & Kildare, The Most Reverend Richard Clarke.

All Ireland Camp—20th-23rd April Venue– Kilkenny College, Co Kilkenny.

All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents, Secretaries & Treasurers. Venue NUI Maynooth, Co Kildare 16th-18th June.

Handbook updated.

World Council in Pennsylvania

Rev. Janice Aiton commissioned as All Ireland Chaplain.

World Council in Pennsylvania, USA. Our representatives were Mrs Emila Corrigan, Senior Delegate and Junior Delegate, Elaine Grothier, Tullow Branch, Cashel & Ossory Dioceses. Ruth Choi, Korea appointed World Chairperson.

All Ireland Training Day in Castleknock Parish Centre

All Ireland Training Day in Castleknock Parish Centre, 20th March.

All Ireland Camp – Wesley College, Dublin – 15th -18th May.

All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents

All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents, Secretaries & Treasurers in the Theological College – 20th-22nd June.

All Ireland Training in Emmaus Centre, Swords, 17th -19th October.

125th Birthday Celebrations

125th Birthday Celebrations. All Ireland Camp in Kilkenny College from 4th to 7th April.

9th May 12 GFS members (drawn from across dioceses) visit, by invitation, the President of Ireland, Mrs Mary McAleese at Aras An Uachtarain.

A Service of Celebration was held in St. Patricks Cathedral; 23rd June – Live televised service from RTE.

World Council in Cairns and Townsville, Australia. Our representatives were Mrs Emila Corrigan, Senior Delegate and Suzanne Henry, Junior Delegate, Christ Church branch, Lisburn, Connor Diocese. Mrs Adele Ray, USA appointed World Chairperson.

All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents

All Ireland Conference for Diocesan Presidents, Secretaries & Treasurers in the Theological College – 23rd-25th Feb.

Millennium Services held throughout the country

Millennium Services held throughout the country. An All-Ireland Service of Thanksgiving held in St. Patricks Cathedral, Dublin on 7th May.

World Council in Port Elizabeth and Umtata

World Council in Port Elizabeth and Umtata, South Africa. Our representatives were Mrs. Maeve Hannon, Senior Delegate and Anne Healy, Junior Delegate, Cloughjordan Branch, Killaloe Diocese. Mrs. June Hillier from Australia appointed World Chairperson.

World Day of Prayer

World Day of Prayer service sheet produced by Ireland.

World Council in Swanick and London

World Council in Swanick and London, England. Our representatives were Mrs. Maeve Hannon, Senior Delegate and Tanya Woods, Junior Delegate, Billis Branch, Kilmore Diocese. Mrs. Nobantu Makunga of South Africa appointed World Chairperson.

World Council in Wellington

World Council in Wellington, New Zealand. Our representatives were Mrs. Olein Gyles, Senior Delegate and Alison Burnside, Junior Delegate, Donaghmore Branch, Armagh Diocese. Mrs. Joy Epton from England appointed World Chairperson.

Live Broadcast of Holy Communion from RTE

Live Broadcast of Holy Communion from RTE on Sunday 26th April. Dean Salmon presided.

All Ireland Camp held in Rathdown School

All Ireland Camp held in Rathdown School, Dublin.

“The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

This window formerly in the Girls Friendly Society Chapel in Oak House was transferred by the Society to Christ Church Leeson Park in 1989.

World Council in Sierra Leone

World Council in Sierra Leone. Our representatives were Mrs. Olein Gyles, Senior Delegate and Hazel Codd, Junior Delegate, Tullow Branch, Cashel & Ossory Dioceses. Mrs. Joy Parkin of New Zealand appointed World Chairperson

All Ireland Camp in Villiers School

All Ireland Camp in Villiers School, Limerick. Members from England and Wales attended. England also hosted a camp which Irish members attended.

All Ireland Training Week-ends in Carrig Eden

All Ireland Training Week-ends in Carrig Eden, Greystones, County Wicklow and The Theological College, Dublin. Ireland published the World Day of Prayer Service.

World Council in Swansea and Bangor

World Council in Swansea and Bangor, Wales. Our representatives were Mrs. Mary Hinchliff, Senior Delegate and Lorna Beattie, Junior Delegate, Magheralin Branch, Connor Diocese. Mrs. Subuola Thompson of Sierra Leone appointed World Chairperson.

Camp for 14 – 18 year olds in Llanfairfechan, Wales; Mrs Olein Gyles in charge of the Irish group.

All Ireland Conference held in the Theological College

All Ireland Conference held in the Theological College, Dublin. Mrs. Dilys Fowler, World President attended.

GFS supported the Owerri Weaving Project in Nigeria

GFS supported the Owerri Weaving Project in Nigeria.

World Council held in Japan

World Council held in Japan. Our representatives were Mrs. Mary Hinchliff, Senior Delegate (Geashill & Killeigh Branch) and Patricia Matthews, Junior Delegate ( Meath & Kildare Diocese). Mrs. Dilys Fowler of Wales appointed World Chairperson.

Leaders Conference held in Greystones

Leaders Conference held in Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

World Council in Coleraine, Northern Ireland

World Council in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Theme: ‘Go Forard with Love’; Peggy Johnston, Sr. Delegate and Gillian Thompson Jr. Delegate. Mrs Iwai of Japan appointed World Chairperson.

Irish GFS Members at Holiday Camp in Wales.

Leaders' Conference in Greystones

Leaders’ Conference in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

Party of girls from Armagh visit Dublin and Glendalough over Easter weekend.

The Eva Hales project in Sierra Leone

The Eva Hales project in Sierra Leone, Gambia and Liberia. Note: Eva Hales was from Belfast.

New GFS chapel in Christ Church, Leeson Park, Dublin 4 dedicated by The Most Reverend H.R. McAdoo, DD (The Lord Archbishop in Dublin).

Centenary of GFS in USA

Centenary of GFS in USA; an inscribed scroll from GFS Ireland to GFS USA.

World Council held in Los Angeles – Mrs Beth Mayes (nee Irwin) appointed World Chairperson. Helen Trimble, Donaghmore Branch, Armagh Diocese Junior Delegate

Centenary of GFS in Ireland

Centenary of GFS in Ireland, There is a broadcast service from Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, the Primate Archbishop Pike preached. Mrs Beth Mayes on “Outlook”, a RTE programme. Mrs Bain, the GFS World President is invited to the Centenary dinner. GFS Oak House at 36 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin was opened by Archbishop McAdoo. There was an invitation to share in the Centenary of GFS in Scotland, Mrs Jean Lindsay, Kilmore Cathedral GFS Branch attended on behalf of Ireland.

World Council in London

World Council in London, England. Irish delegates: Hilary Johnston, Harmony Branch, Connor Diocese and Jean Lindsay, Kilmore Cathedral Branch. Mrs F. Bain (USA) was appointed World Chairperson.

New “All Ireland” banner made by Leaders and Helpers from Kilmore Cathedral branch; dedication in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

Opening of the new Oak House in Orwell Road

May – World Chairperson and English GFS President Mrs C J Mandleberg addresses Central Council – first time for an English President to do so.

Opening of the new Oak House in Orwell Road, Rathgar – Mrs Mandleberg present.

July – A party of Irish GFS, three from each Diocese went to Blacon, Cheshire, for holiday as guests of English GFS.

World Council in Melbourne, Australia

World Council in Melbourne, Australia. Our representatives were -Naomi McKinley, St Barnabas’ Branch. Connor Diocese, and Kathleen Linnegan, Diocesan Secretary, Derry Diocese. World Project – Lesotho.

Oak House (34 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin) sold with the house’s furniture going to Wilson’s Hospital School, the Simon Community and to the Salvation Army.

Purchase of Rathgar House (Bethany Home) in Orwell Road, Rathgar.

A gift of £10.00 sent to Winchester House (Isle of Man) Holiday Home; some members having stayed at the house in the past.

90th birthday services

90th birthday services held in Christ Church cathedral, Dublin and St. Patrick’s cathedral, Armagh.

All Ireland training weekend held in Coolnagreina, Greystones – County Wicklow.

World Council in Kyoto, Japan

World Council held in Kyoto, Japan. Miss Beth Irwin from St Barnabas’ GFS Branch, Connor Diocese was the Irish Representative. Mrs Tsuji from Japan was the World Chairperson. The World Project was ‘Japan’.

All Ireland Conference in Tramore

All Ireland Conference in Tramore, County Waterford; a decision was made to have training week-ends to enable leaders to become AllIreland Leaders.

GFS handbook updated.

World Council in Ireland (Dublin)

World Council in Ireland (Dublin) Theme ‘Peace through Friendship’.
World project British Guiana, Mrs Mercy Simms was World Chairperson.

85th celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland

An invitation to the GFS President and Secretary to attend the 85th celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland.

World Council in Australia

World Council in Australia. Decision to send GFS Worker to Kenya. This was the World Project until next World Council. Ireland represented in Australia by Ivy Kerr, Kilkenny, Ossory Diocese.

Lambeth Conference

Lambeth Conference and also GFS World Wide Conference (three Irish delegates attended).

Mrs Summer Walters, President of GFS USA, and her husband Bishop S Walters visit Ireland.

GFS 80th birthday

GFS 80th birthday celebrations held in Belfast; 7th – 10th June – afternoon pageant titled ‘Friendships Highway’ in Wellington Hall.

A festival service in St. Annes Cathedral.

Mrs Ellswork G Ferriera, official representative from GFS USA, was welcomed for the 80th celebrations.

The following two messages were illuminated and given to Mrs Barry and Mrs Ferriera to take to the World Assembly and to America:

To the World Assembly – A greeting from the Girls’ Friendly Society in Ireland to the gathering of the World Assembly – Greetings – We feel proud and honoured to be members of this great World Assembly, and although unable to be with you in person we are with you in Spirit – Mizpah.

To GFS USA – Greetings and best wishes to the Girls’ Friendly Society in the United States of America from the Girls’ Friendly Society in Ireland. May our next twenty years be twenty years of progress and friendship in the fellowship of our society.

Second World Council

Second World Council was held in Les Diablerets, Switzerland. Five delegates attended from Ireland.

International Conference on Isle of Wight

International Conference held on Isle of Wight. This was where the World Council of GFS was formed and coincided with the 80th anniversary of GFS being founded.

World Day of Prayer was set as the 29th September – the Feast of St Michael and all Angels. Offerings collected at this service are used for the World Project Fund.

Rostrevor Holiday

Rostrevor Holiday House closed.

Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation

Our much loved patron, Queen Mary, dies 24 March; sympathy message sent to the Princess Royal.

Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation; GFS sends Northern Ireland delegates: Miss Telford (Connor) Associate with girls Ann Moore and Georgina Proctor.

Golden-Silver Jubilee Celebrations

Golden-Silver Jubilee Celebrations – a garden party in the zoo, a concert in CMS Hall ending with a thanksgiving service in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

A rally held in the Grove School in Belfast; a gold and silver cake was cut by the lady mayoress.

Mrs Exshaw agrees to act as Vigilance Officer

Mrs Exshaw agrees to act as Vigilance Officer and as Head of Sick and Convalescent.

Forty-two girls in residence in Oak House

Forty-two girls in residence in Oak House; 325 visitors took advantage of vacant beds in the holiday periods.

GFS 70th Birthday

GFS 70th Birthday Celebrations in Dublin.

Sat 12th July-Rally in the Metropolitan Hall, Dublin.

Sun 13th July-Thanksgiving Service in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

G.F.S. 1877 – 1947

Miss Florence Ross Todd resumes the office of President

Miss Florence Ross Todd resumes the office of President after a long illness; Council wished Miss Todd to receive the highest honour possible and so is made “President Emeritus”

Committee sanctioned an optional uniform, similar to that worn by GFS in England, consisting of a blue dress, a blue forage cap or alternatively the forage cap, an armlet with monogram and a blue tie.

The Queen Mother became a Patron

Queen Elizabeth (“the Queen Mother”) became Patron of GFS.

“The Oak Tree” painting commissioned

‘The Oak Tree’ painting was commissioned by GFS by the artist Miss Helen Colville (GFS). The caption below the picture reads:

“The Oak Tree is an emblem of strength, security, and shelter. We pray that this Oak House may inspire all those who come in and go out of it, with the spirit of Friendship, Love, and Service.”

–note picture of the painting to be inserted.

Oak House purchased

Oak House purchased at 34 St Stephen;s Green, Dublin for £4,000.

GFS pledge card against ‘betting’ issued to members

GFS pledge card against ‘betting’ issued to members; card reads “I promise with God’s help not to bet, or help others to do so, while I retain this card”.

Jubilee year

Jubilee year, many celebrations to raise money to buy new GFS House. Money presented at a Pageant using ‘Oak leaf’ symbols.

Jubilee Banner of St Brigid presented to Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

First Cetnral Arts and Crafts Exhibition held.

Victory Fete held in Mansion House

Victory Fete was held at the Mansion House, Dublin. £1,000 was raised to help repair the Queen Victoria Home of Rest in Rostrevor, Co Down.

Various War work undertaken

First Camp held in Ireland for members. Various war work was undertaken, with Savings Group, Club for War Nurses (QMAAC). Vigilance work was started, and hospital beds etc were donated.

Larger hostel opened

Larger hostel opened in Upper Merrion Street, Dublin.

Queen Mary became our Patron.

Queen Mary became our Patron.

Front and back view of the card given to Maud Allen

An example of the card that was given to members to encourage and support them in their faith. The actual example shown was given to Maud Allen (Parish of Donoughmore, Co. Wicklow in 1906 when she was 14 years old)

First hostel

First hostel –GFS Lodge –opened in College Street, Belfast.

“The hostel provided safe and inexpensive accommodation for young women working in the city or otherwise away from home. Here four residents pose in the parlour reading, sewing and playing the piano.”

Certificate of marriage

A certificate presented to a GFS member on her marriage in 1902.

Queen Victoria visits Ireland

Queen Victoria visited Dublin and the new GFS Hostel in Rostrevor, County Down named after her as a memorial of her visit.

Honary Life Members elected

The Countess Dowager of Meath (the Foundress of GFS in Ireland) elected as an Honary Life Member of the Central Council and Mrs Elizabeth Townsend (the Foundress of the parent society) elected as an Honary Life Member of the Irish Central Council.

GFS lodges opened in Armagh, Belfast, Derry and Cork where members could avail of a safe and inexpensive accommodation working in these cities.

Emigration Department opened

Emigration Department opened to help girls going to Canada & USA.

Queen Victoria became Patron

Queen Victoria became the Patron of GFS and sent a gift of £50.
GFS Ireland was the first country to have a ‘Candidates’ membership section.

First GFS centre opened

First GFS hostel and recreational centre opened – Molesworth Street, Dublin and later Frederick Street.

First office opened

First office opened with Miss La Touche as Registrar or Secretary – girls helped to find suitable jobs here.

First meeting in Ireland

GFS in Ireland was established and began on 22nd February 1877 when Viscountess Powerscourt, Viscountess Monck, Mrs La Touche, Rev’d J.A. Cross (Secretary) and Rev’d J.G. Scott, Rector met in the Royal Marine Hotel, Bray.

At the first meeting in Bray, 17 Working Associates were appointed with five more Associates added at a later date. GFS became a respected organisation supported by the Church of Ireland with families appreciating the fact that GFS was a guiding factor in the lives of females of all ages. Of particular interest was that Mrs CF Alexander, the hymn writer, was one of this first group of Working Associates. The first Central President was the Countess of Meath from Killruddery Estate, Bray.

The creation of GFS

GFS has a history starting in the 19th century by an Irish woman, Mrs Mary Elizabeth Townsend in England in 1875.

Mrs Townsend once wrote “If the power of rescue work will be so increased by organisation, why should no work be organised to save from falling?” In modern terminology, from its inception GFS was concerned with prevention.

Cut off from the support of friends and family, Mrs Townsend’s idea was for ‘Lady Associates’ to befriend and guide these girls, who would form the Society’s members. Today, we would probably call these Associates ‘mentors’. Girls could join GFS from the age of 12, but from 1882 those from the age of eight could become ‘membership candidates’.

This was the first girls and women’s organisations within the Church of England. It was a society for friendship and recreation where all girls might share, bound together in a fellowship of Christian love and service.

GFS was spreading quickly around the world and began its’ work in Ireland in 1877.