In August 2016, we launched a search to reunite families with portraits of their loved ones which had been painted by Tobias Everard Spence between 1940 and 1980. On Canadian Day we thought we should re-share a previous story of a tremendous journey for one family from Canada in their quest to find out information on their great-great-uncle Thomas Hutchinson. Hilary Tompkins, from Seattle, first contacted Clifton House in December 2016. She had been working with a genealogist from Bangor who had advised her of our search for relations of those who featured in our portraits. Hilary viewed the portraits online [...]
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Easter has always been an important holiday. It marked a time for family to come together and take part in the religious rituals surrounding the holiday. In preparation for Easter families would have had a ‘spring clean’ and a hearty meal was prepared for Easter Sunday, marking the end of Lent. Aspects of these Easter traditions can be found peppered through the Belfast Charitable Society's Archive, held in Clifton House. Although it was now explicitly mentioned in the Minute Books, Easter 1775 was the first with residents in the Poor House. On Easter Monday 1775 the bell and clock from the [...]
The Mary Ann McCracken Foundation and Belfast Charitable Society have come together to offer a new bursary programme for post primary schools in North Belfast. The bursaries will be targeted at 16+ year olds who face financial barriers which may prevent them from continuing to AS / A-Level, further or higher education, employment or apprenticeship. The bursaries will be administered by each of the 12 post primary schools in the North Belfast area, and will support a minimum of 22 pupils. Norma Sinte, Chair of the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation, explained “We often ask ourselves ‘what would Mary Ann do today’? [...]
Dr William Drennan (NMNI) Dr William Drennan was the youngest son of Rev Thomas Drennan, minister of the First Presbyterian Church Belfast, and Anne Lennox. During this period Presbyterians were impacted by the Penal Codes, and as such many ‘sons of the manse’ attended university in Scotland. William Drennan studied arts in Glasgow (1772) and completed his medical studies in Edinburgh (1778). Dr Drennan was heavily influenced by enlightenment ideas and thinking. On his return to Ireland he practised in Belfast, Newry and Dublin. Dr Drennan was the originator of the concept of what would become the United Irishmen [...]
On Wednesday 26th January 2022 the Belfast Charitable Society hosted their 250th AGM, and celebrated 270 years, with a special online event featuring Sir Ronnie Weatherup, President of the Society, and Dr Éamon Phoenix, notable local historian. Through a fascinating conversation, Sir Ronnie and Dr Phoenix examined Belfast’s oldest charity through its buildings, people and influence across the centuries. Belfast Charitable Society was officially established in 1752 by a group of local merchants and burgesses (councillors). After closing up their businesses and homes, nineteen of these gentlemen made their way to the George Inn at the corner of North Street and [...]
Olaudah Equiano The Belfast Charitable Society And The Slave Trade 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 Century 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 [...]
Mary Ann McCracken Foundation highlights the plight of women living in Afghanistan On Thursday 18th November, the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation hosted its inaugural annual lecture, focusing on the challenges facing Afghan women. Many of us have watched in horror as events in Afghanistan have unfolded. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee, fearing for their lives and escaping conflict. Speaking at the event was Dr Sima Nazari, a successful Afghan doctor who was forced to leave her home country following death threats from the Taliban. Sima shared the heart-breaking story of having to leave a job she [...]
The James Kane Foundation are looking for a Foundation Manager to assist the Trustees in developing the strategy, structures, processes and relationships to ensure that it meets its aims. James Kane, the owner of JM Kane Precision Engineering Limited, bequeathed his shareholding to a charitable foundation - ‘The James Kane Foundation’. Set up in 2016, its key purpose is to advance education for people living in the Portadown area and across Northern Ireland. This is to be achieved through the provision of grants to enable access to training and skills to develop learning and improve employment prospects. The Foundation has a board of [...]
Clifton House Centre has been awarded £74,500 to help recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Known to many as the original Poor House, Clifton House is a unique conference venue and historic heritage attraction located in the north of Belfast. Pre-COVID, it would have accommodated hundreds of small conferences and events over the course of a year, and hosted weekly tours, talks and presentations on the history of the Society and the Poor House. As of March this year, Clifton House will have been closed to the public for a full year, resulting in significant loss of income. Not [...]
Mary Ann McCracken Foundation officially launched “Powerful”, “piercing”, “disturbing”, “compelling” and “demanding”, just some of the testimonies about Professor David Olosuga’s key note speech on launching of the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation last night (Wednesday 20th January). Over 400 people tuned in to hear the talk on the ‘Legacies of Slavery’, something which David said was “about having a grown-up approach to history. It’s never simple and it’s certainly never neat, and what it is, is morally complicated”. The launch of the foundation was the first step in celebrating the life of Mary Ann McCracken, and to build on her legacy. Although [...]