Vere Foster

At the Society’s October meeting a member, Margaret Barnes, gave a very interesting talk on the remarkable life of Vere Foster.

He was born in 1819 into the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and devoted his life to improving the living and economic conditions of ordinary people in rural Ireland after the devastation of the Great Famine when more than a million people perished.

Throughout his life he travelled widely and campaigned on their behalf. He improved conditions on ships for those emigrating to America and assisted many to find employment. He improved and built 2,000 schools and promoted the status of teachers, all at his own expense.

To help children find employment he produced writing and copying books which rapidly caught on and millions were sold across the English – speaking world. He later set about a successful campaign to raise money to build and equip Belfast Royal Hospital. He died destitute in 1900, having given all his money away.

Geoff Barnes

Vice-Chair and Publicity Officer