Marcus Goodbody (1810-1885)

Source: The Goodbodys: The Story of an Irish Quaker Family 1630-1950 by Michael Goodbody 2011

The owner of eight townlands adjacent to Athenry town at the time of Griffiths Valuation (1855) was James Perry. On his death the responsibility for these lands fell to Marcus Goodbody. Who was Marcus Goodbody and how did he become the effective landlord of these lands?


The Goodbodys.

Back, l-r: Marcus Goodbody, Lewis Frederick Goodbody, Robert Goodbody, Robert James Goodbody.

Front: Thomas Pim Goodbody. 

(Photo: Michael Goodbody)


Marcus Goodbody was born in Mountmellick, County Laois in 1810. He was the eldest of six sons of Robert Goodbody (1781-1860) and Margaret Pim (1775-1824).

Following the early death of his mother in 1824 his father moved from Mountmellick to Clara, County Offaly in 1825. There he took over the running of the Brusna mills in which he had a 25% share. He created a very successful business operation. In due Marcus with two of his brothers jointly assumed responsibility for the operation of the mills from their father. Marcus was an astute businessman.

A Role in Famine Relief

Marcus played an active role in the work of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in combatting the suffering of the general population during the Great Famine. He accompanied James Hack Tuke, a Quaker from New York, in the winter of 1846-47 in an extended three week fact-finding mission to the North-West including Roscommon, Leitrim, Fermanagh and Donegal finishing their journey in Sligo.

Through his work with the Central Relief Fund Marcus Goodbody met James Perry for which the latter was one of the treasurers. In 1850 James Perry purchased the former Oranmore and Browne family estates at Athenry from the Encumbered Estates Court. Griffiths Valuation shows James Perry as the owner of 2337 acres in Athenry Parish in the townlands of Ballgurrane North, Ballygurrane South, Ballygurrane West, Cuilliarbawn, Gortnahown, Mooabaun, Newford and Park.


In 1848 he married Hannah Perry, the daughter of James Perry. They lived at Inchmore, Clara after their marriage. They had thirteen children. Their second son was names James Perry Goodbody.

Marcus and Hannah Goodbody resided at Inchmore in Clara but were forced to leave for Dublin in 1869.They had felt threatened after he purchased a farm (Guinan’s Corner) between Moate and Clara when relatives of the vendor claimed lawful ownership. This was at a time of political unrest following the Fenian rising of 1867. They took up residence at Obelisk Park in Stillorgan.

Athenry Estate

Marcus Goodbody took over the operation the Athenry Estate which was left in trust for his second son, James Perry Goodbody, by the latter’s grandfather, James Perry following his death in 1858.This inheritance occurred when James Perry disinherited his son William as a result of William marrying Eliza Pim against his father’s wishes. There was then a legal settlement between Marcus Goodbody and William Perry with the former paying William £18,400 after negotiations. These negotiations and the responsibility for James Perry’s affairs both before and after his death as well as his own business interests took a toll on Marcus’s health.

 Mark Russell Goodbody resided near Moate and owned farms in the area. He was a first cousin of Marcus Goodbody. He also bought and sold cattle for Marcus and he was brought in by Marcus to help with the running of the Athenry Estate.


Marcus Goodbody started buying land in 1850 with his brother Jonathan. Later he purchased lands on his own account. He avoided tenanted land as far as he could when he was purchasing. He did not go in for arable farming but focussed on livestock. He kept all of his properties in excellent order spending considerable sums on improvements.

In the 1870s Marcus Goodbody was listed as the owner of 2309 acres in County Galway. Part of Athenry Town was also part of the estate.

Marcus Goodbody died on 31st December 1885 and is buried in Temple Hill, Blackrock.