Monthly Archives: April 2020


Evacuation: From Clifton House to Garron Tower


By the close of play on this day (29th April) 79 years ago, Clifton House was quiet and deserted. Only once prior to this time had the house been completely empty - that was in 1798. The army had cleared it in a rush in 1798 in a bid to flush out the radicals in Belfast at the time, however, this time the decision to empty the house had been much more considered. When World War II broke out, the guardians of Clifton House thought the basement area would serve as the perfect air-raid shelter. There were approximately 130 elderly, frail [...]

Evacuation: From Clifton House to Garron Tower2020-04-29T07:19:04+00:00

Death of an Apprentice: The Sad Tale of William Lacey


On 25th April 1812, it was reported by the Orderly that an “extraordinary meeting” of Belfast Charitable Society was held yesterday regarding the death of one of its apprentices. The boy in question was William Lacey who was first admitted into the Poorhouse, at the tender age of 7, in February 1803. In November 1809, he was apprenticed to Matthew Currie for five years as a weaver in Carrickfergus. However, it was the mysterious circumstances of his death which prompted the Committee to investigate his case further. On 20th April 1812, it received an anonymous letter from an inhabitant of Carrickfergus [...]

Death of an Apprentice: The Sad Tale of William Lacey2020-04-25T07:35:00+00:00

The Cholera Pandemic of 1832: Belfast’s first case


Although the Poor House preparations for the arrival of cholera had begun in December 1831, it was not until the end of February the following year that the first case of cholera was recorded in Belfast. A 34-year-old man called Brendan Murtagh died of the disease in Quay Lane. The knowledge of the first case must have spread slowly, as on 10th March 1832 the Board of Health approached the Belfast Charitable Society to see if it would …undertake to supply them with coffins for the poor who may die of cholera in case it appears in this place. The Charitable [...]

The Cholera Pandemic of 1832: Belfast’s first case2020-04-15T10:29:41+00:00

Funders pull together to support North Belfast students


We are currently in unprecedented times, which often leads to unprecedented responses. In the last few days, several funders have come together in a unique partnership to release at least £50,000 of funds to local post primary schools in North Belfast in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.  Led by Belfast Charitable Society, funding will also be provided from the Halifax Foundation, UCIT, the Ulster University (Santander Universities Fund) and The National Lottery Community Fund. This funding will quickly and directly support the immediate needs of over 225 students across five secondary schools. Schools have been frantically putting in place systems to [...]

Funders pull together to support North Belfast students2020-04-06T11:38:15+00:00

The Cholera Pandemic of 1832: Preparations begin


Christmas Eve 1831 was not a festive one for the Belfast Charitable Society. Members of the Society had watched with trepidation as cholera marched through Russia, into Poland before spreading across the rest of Europe. That evening a resolution was passed stating on the first appearance of cholera in Belfast… ...that communication between the house and the town be immediately suspended to stop it [cholera] spreading [to the Poor House residents] By mid-February 1832 there was an awareness that cholera could soon strike in Belfast. The charitable institutions and hospitals were swift to act and put in place what measures they [...]

The Cholera Pandemic of 1832: Preparations begin2020-04-04T10:27:49+00:00

Samuel Neilson (1761-1803): The Subversive Radical


Samuel Neilson was a very successful Belfast businessman and an active member of the Charitable Society. He was an uncompromising social reformer who wished to improve Irish society for all. He was also an abolitionist and provided the freed slave Equaino with lodgings during his time in Belfast and  invited Equaino to speak at the Poor House. Neilson was arguably one of the most radical and influential of the United Irishmen who supported the use of arms to achieve its goals. By 1791 he was so occupied with his political activism that he resigned as the Charitable Society's treasurer. He was [...]

Samuel Neilson (1761-1803): The Subversive Radical2020-04-02T09:07:53+00:00
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