Yearly Archives: 2018


136th Benn Christmas Dinner: the brothers behind the name


Edward Benn Today, 19th December 2018, marks the 136th annual Benn Christmas Dinner. But who were the Benn family and what was their association with the Belfast Charitable Society? Edward (1798-1874) and George Benn (1801-1882), like many who supported the Belfast Poor House combined their keen business sense with a philanthropic spirit. The brothers originally came from Tandragee, County Armagh, and worked in the brewing trade in Downpatrick, County Down. However, it was in the iron ore mining business on their estate at Glenravell, County Antrim, that the brothers made their fortune. Edward and George were both active members [...]

136th Benn Christmas Dinner: the brothers behind the name2018-12-19T08:41:19+00:00

James Irwin, the House of Correction & Clifton Street Cemetery


On this day 185 years ago (15th December 1833) James Irwin was buried in the ‘New Burying Ground’, today known as Clifton Street Cemetery. He died aged 68 of cancer. James was born c.1765 in Wellbrook, County Tyrone and moved to the town of Belfast where he resided with his family at Great Patrick Street. The burial register records his occupation as Inspector of the House of Correction. The House of Correction had been erected in 1817, on Howard Street, near the upper end of Chichester Street. The ominous inscription above the door warned “Within amend, without beware.” By 1822 the [...]

James Irwin, the House of Correction & Clifton Street Cemetery2018-12-15T07:56:28+00:00

Dr Robert Stevenson: Poor House physcian & Benefactor


One of the first doctors in Belfast to offer their support to the Poor House by providing medical care to the poor for free was Dr Robert Stevenson. Dr Stevenson was called on to set broken legs and treat cancers in the Poor House. Dr Stevenson was kept busy with work in the Poor House in addition to his private patients. On 9th July 1776 he was called to the Poor House twice. First, to treat Timothy Gilvin, a native of Dublin and a tailor by trade, who had broken his leg. The Belfast Charitable Society purchased a yard of linen [...]

Dr Robert Stevenson: Poor House physcian & Benefactor2018-12-08T08:19:37+00:00

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery


Today marks International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The notion of slavery tends to bring us back to African slaves brought to America, however slavery continues as 21st Century problem.  The Belfast Charitable Society of the 18th and 19th centuries found themselves caught in the controversy surrounding this abhorrent trade. Much of the conflict regarding the differing views of slavery happened outside of the Poor House, however, when the freed slave Olaudah Equiano visited Belfast in the early 1790s, he was invited to speak at the Poor House and several other prominent locations in Belfast. Equiano lodged with Samuel Neilson, [...]

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery2018-12-02T12:59:16+00:00

Decorating the Poor House


This week our Christmas decorations went up marking the start of the festive season in Belfast’s original Poor House. Our Archive & Heritage Development Officer dipped into our archive to see how the Poor House would have been decorated in the past. In the Georgian era the House was decorated throughout in what the Belfast Charitable Society termed ‘appropriate greenery’ featuring garlands and wreaths made of holly, pines, firs and ivy. The Poor House residents would also collect their own foliage from the grounds to decorate their rooms. The use of greenery indoors was typical of homes throughout Ireland in this [...]

Decorating the Poor House2018-11-27T09:33:25+00:00

One Eighty Restaurant among those ‘Served up’ £850k by Building Better Futures Fund


A £1million community fund which provides small, unsecured loans to social enterprises and charities has committed £850K to 36 groups in Northern Ireland in just 18 months. Beneficiaries of the fund have been drawn from right across Northern Ireland with loans ranging from £1,000 to £25,000. Organisations supported include Step by Step which runs the One Eighty restaurant in Portadown to provide hospitality training for young people with learning difficulties. Since opening in 2011 the award-winning restaurant has provided training to dozens of young people, while offering a comprehensive value-for-money menu to the public.  The Building Better Futures fund provided its [...]

One Eighty Restaurant among those ‘Served up’ £850k by Building Better Futures Fund2018-11-22T10:20:37+00:00

The spark that started Belfast’s Industrial expansion


Belfast was once famous the world over for its linen production, but this was not the first textile to be industrialised in Belfast. Robert Joy was a paper producer and proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter, as well as the designer and project manager of the Poor House. Robert Joy, his brother-in-law Captain John McCracken and Thomas McCabe, all of whom sat on the Poor House Board, set out to discover the next ‘big thing’ in manufacturing. Although generous individuals, they were merchants and set sail to Britain to investigate the developing industries there. On their travels they discovered pioneering cotton spinning [...]

The spark that started Belfast’s Industrial expansion2018-11-20T10:51:17+00:00

Famine, fever and exhumation…


Black '47, the darkest year of the Great Hunger had a lasting impact on the town of Belfast. People were dying at an astonishing rate, with many streaming into Belfast to seek work and food. Money, however, could not save you from the ravages of the dreaded famine fever which killed indiscriminately. One such fever victim was Lt. James Trevanion Bettesworth who died aged 24. Bettesworth was a Lieutenant in the 36th Regiment Foot, and Aid de Camp to Major General Bainbridge, Clarence Place. James was originally born in England but was stationed in Belfast, with his family living in Dover. James [...]

Famine, fever and exhumation…2018-11-18T07:49:50+00:00

Tales from the Poor House: The young Robert Grainger


The year 1818 was tough for the people of Belfast. Many were impacted by the famine conditions and the associated fever. This led some to take drastic actions. We are not sure what the circumstances were for the young Robert Grainger whose grandfather kicked him out of his home. Whether the grandfather couldn't afford his upkeep, or he had stolen from the family,  or if there was some other sort of family dispute, is something we can never know for sure. On 7th November 1818 the Belfast Charitable Society however, took pity on young Robert and agreed that he should be admitted to [...]

Tales from the Poor House: The young Robert Grainger2018-11-14T08:06:45+00:00

Belfast Charitable Society at the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland Conference 2018


The Belfast Charitable Society are proud to be attending the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland Annual Conference at Cultra Manor today (8th November 2018). The conference offers fundraisers the chance to learn and share best practice in fundraising. This year’s theme is #KeepingItFresh both in terms of yourself as a fundraiser and also your cause. Belfast Charitable Society have, for over 266 years, promoted philanthropy in Belfast and further afield , so we know how important it is to be innovative in an ever changing climate of giving and fundraising. Belfast Charitable Society are proud to be one of the sponsors of the conference, so [...]

Belfast Charitable Society at the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland Conference 20182018-11-08T10:20:00+00:00
Go to Top