How It Began
On Saturday 8th March, 1986, Dun Laoghaire Methodists commemorated 150 years of undisturbed worship on our present site at Northumberland Avenue.
But the seeds of Methodism were first sown in Dunleary, as it was then called, as far back as 1820. How the seed came to be sown is an amazing story in itself, and the sower, Gideon Ouseley, links us with one of the most revered of the early Methodist preachers.
Gideon Ouseley was born in the village of Dunmore, Co. Galway, in 1762. He belonged to an aristocratic family and got a good education in English and Latin as well as being proficient in the Irish language. Having married he went to live on a farm in County Roscommon but, like many of his type, spent too much of his time fox hunting, drinking and gambling. As a result his property slipped out of his hands and he returned to Dunmore, where he was soon to lose the sight of one eye in a fracas on the village street.
Out of curiosity he attended a prayer meeting led by a British soldier in the parlour of the local public house. He was convicted of sin, profoundly disturbed, and passed through a period of mental conflict seeking, but not finding, peace. The soldiers left but were followed by David Gordon, a Methodist preacher, through whom Gideon was led into the assurance of sins forgiven and peace with God.
Soon after his conversion Gideon felt strongly that he must tell others about the peace which he had found. Knowing both the disease of sin and its' cure, he commenced a ministry of evangelism scarcely ever equalled in Ireland.
At the Methodist Conference of 1799 he responded to a call to tell his fellow countrymen the good news of the gospel in their native tongue. He was appointed to no circuit, he was furnished with no preaching plan, but was given the entire country for his parish, and the saddle on his horse for a pulpit. For forty years he exercised his public ministry preaching in the fairs and markets of Ireland, north and south and east and west. Thousands upon thousands heard the call and many obeyed and became living witnesses to the power of the gospel.
We are told that in 1820 the devoted missionary preached in the market at Lurgan to a great multitude of both Protestants, and Roman Catholics who seemed "as if they were fastened to the ground and, being bathed in tears, sobbed and cried and prayed together as of one heart and soul". Gideon, however, being worn out with travelling and hardships, developed a severe cold. He was ordered to try bathing as a means to regain his health and Dunleary was chosen as the place for his temporary retreat. Even here, when rest was of the greatest importance, he could not remain without doing something for his Master. He preached four times a week, witnessed some signal conversions, and formed a class of fourteen members whom he committed to the care of the superintendent of the Dublin circuit.
During the ensuing sixteen years the Methodist cause, in what had then become known as Kingstown, continued to grow, as did the local township. It would appear that right through their history the local Methodist people had leaders of foresight as well as faith. So it was that in 1836, the year in which the rail link between Dublin and Kingstown was completed, the first Methodist church was built on the site which we now occupy.
It is also of interest to note that Mr. Peter Pearson in his historical book entitled "Dun Laoghaire Kingstown" links the opening of the church with Torbay (Devon) fishermen who had settled here.