Ever wondered about the origin of some of the old tiled Belfast street signs? Well, at a meeting of the Belfast Corporation in July 1869, known today as Belfast City Council, it was resolved that the Belfast Charitable Society should affix signs to the streets on their land including Clifton Street, Regent Street & Duncairn Street. Over time as our lands continued to develop, we added Glenravel Street into the mix; named after the home of the Benn Brothers in the Glens of Antrim. George and Edward Benn were responsible for adding two additional wings onto the Poor House and built two hospitals on [...]
On this day 1798 Henry Joy McCracken was executed for his role as commander of the County Antrim forces of the United Irishmen. After the United Irish defeat in Antrim in June of 1798, Henry Joy fled to the Belfast Hills, whilst Mary Ann arranged his escape to America. However, he was seized on the way to the ship and tried by court martial. During his trial Harry, as he was affectionately known by his family, was given the option to save his life and go into exile if he informed on the other leaders. He refused and was subsequently hanged 221 [...]
Belfast Charitable Society Board Member, Captain John McCracken was enchanted by all things French. He spent considerable time travelling between Belfast and Bordeaux, transporting wine for his employer, the Black family. He had been held prisoner in France in the mid-1700s, but it did not diminish his admiration for the French people. When French prisoners were quartered in Belfast, Captain McCracken, his brother-in-law Robert Joy and other prominent businessmen of the town suggested to the government in London that a committee of townspeople should be appointed to look after the welfare of the prisoners of war. John also sought the services [...]
The year 1847 was a dark one in Irish history, known as Black '47, due to the number of famine related deaths. It wasn't just the labouring classes who were impacted - many doctors, minsters and priests died due to contracting various diseases which fell under the ubiquitous term of 'famine fever', when helping the poor. One such example was Dr James McCleery, surgeon to the male side of the Poor House for 12 years, who died on this day (10th July) 1847. He had contracted famine fever from his patients. Surgeon McCleery, as he was referred to in our minute books, was [...]
Belfast Charitable Society always viewed the education of the children within its care as paramount to helping them develop and gain employment in adulthood. On this day, 10th July 1819 Belfast Charitable Society unanimously supported the introduction of the Lancastrian mode of teaching for the Poor House Girls School. This model of education, named after Joseph Lancaster, was based on the concept of the more advanced pupils being used as 'helpers' to the teacher, passing on the information they had learned to other students.
THE Belfast Charitable Society has launched an updated version of ‘The Life and Times of Mary Ann McCracken – A Belfast Panorama’, which was first published by its author Mary McNeill in 1960. Most of us can only hope to achieve something of note within an entire lifetime. Some manage many accomplishments and triumph over challenges – and a very small number lead a life that is still worthy of note many years after they have passed away. It is one such life that of Mary Ann McCracken, which the Belfast Charitable Society invites us to celebrate and reimagine in today’s [...]
John Delaney was a 17 year old resident in the Belfast Poor House when he was offered the opportunity of travelling to Canada with Thomas Alexander Stewart as an apprentice to learn how to farm. T.A. Stewart was the son of Belfast Charitable Society founder, William Stewart, and lived with his family at Wilmont, Drumbeg. T.A. Stewart went bankrupt and decided to seek a new life in Canada, and offered the opportunity for an apprentice to go with him. John Delaney accepted this offer and sailed with Stewart to a new life in Upper Canada. The Stewart family, along with John Delaney [...]