New Northern Ireland wide school funding will be a ‘lifeline’ for families The number of people living in poverty across Northern Ireland is rising dramatically as the costs of basic essentials like food and fuel skyrocket. Many are struggling to feed and clothe their families and are at a financial breaking point. David Watters, Chair of the Belfast Charitable Society commented “There is no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis will mean more and more children will be growing up in poverty in Northern Ireland. The evidence of this is already being seen in schools, as increasingly children are arriving hungry and [...]
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Today, Wednesday 9th November, Belfast Charitable Society celebrated being ‘the first great charity of this town’, with the launch of a new book charting its history in developing Belfast. Professor Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, was in attendance giving invited guests an opportunity to hear her speak of the important role the Society played in ‘her North Belfast’. Edited by Professor Olwen Purdue of Queen's University Belfast, and published by Irish Academic Press, this new collection of essays explores the social history of Belfast from the foundation of Belfast Charitable Society in 1752 through to the point at which Belfast [...]
A brutal stabbing in 1810, which led to a Portuguese sailor being hanged near Carrickfergus, became a sensation of the time. His name was Antonio de Silva, a sailor on board an American ship in Belfast harbour. He allegedly stabbed to death a ship’s carpenter called Robert Morrison, near Prince’s Street, and was subsequently tried and convicted of the crime. The place of execution was a mile outside Carrickfergus, and the apparatus used for the execution consisted of three tall columns, with a cross-beam, to which the rope was attached. They were familiarly known as the ‘Three Sisters’, and stood directly [...]
Burial registers for Clifton Street Cemetery were kept from 1831, recording a wealth of information on people at the time of their death. Of particular interest is 'Black '47' the worst year of famine related deaths in Ireland. Belfast did not escape the affects of the Great Hunger. On this day, 17th October 1847 the body of Mary Gunning was interred in the 'New Burying Ground', to give the cemetery it's original name. Mary had died of fever at her home on Mays Lane, off Queen Street in Belfast. It would appear from the burial register that Mary was an enterprising [...]
Today marks the start of Black History Month, an annual observance recognising the important contribution of black people and events in our history and today. The Belfast Charitable Society has not shied away from the fact that its members, back in the late eighteenth century, were a mismatch of those who benefited significantly from the slave trade – either through the ownership of plantations or related business activity – and another group of people who were part of the abolitionist movement and anti-slavery voice of the day. However by focusing too much on these individuals, we too are covering up the [...]
John Trimble was admitted to the Poor House in May 1858 at the tender age of aged 7. His mother was still living in Belfast at the time but as his father had passed away. After spending a number of years within the walls of the institution, John was apprenticed in 1865 to Mr Reed, a stationer, printer and bookseller based at Waring Street not far from the Poor House. Our admission book includes a note that after his apprenticeship John settled with his mother in Charles Street. However, this was not the last the Poor House heard from John Trimble. [...]
Earlier this month we celebrated International Cat Day and we thought it was only fair that we also mark International Dog Day! Today, 26 August 2022, marks International Dog Day, and is the perfect opportunity to share a small bit of the history of Clifton Street Cemetery. This beautiful sculpture of a dog (pictured) once graced the top of the Hyndman headstone in Clifton Street Cemetery. Sadly the sculpture and the memorial tablets on the headstone were destroyed during the Troubles. The first person to be buried in the Hyndman grave was a man called Robert. He lived at Portview, Ballymacarrett [...]
New Job Opportunities at Clifton House The team at Clifton House get excited about our rich history and love telling the stories of our past. However today they are just as excited about the future as they announce not one, not two, but THREE new job roles to join their team! The recruitment is now live, and the search is on to find motivated and experienced individuals for the following positions : - Foundation & Grants Manager; - Heritage Development Co-ordinator; - Administration Assistant. The closing date for all applications is 4pm on 7th September 2022. Full details and application packs [...]
Today marks International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. But what is the significance of the date? Well, on the evening of 22nd into the 23rd August 1791 witnessed the beginning of an uprising in Santo Domingo, which played a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Both before and after the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, individuals in Belfast, including members of the Charitable Society, 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, [...]
On this day in 1866 the people of Belfast learnt of the death of Mary Ann McCracken. She had lived through some of the most turbulent years of Irish history including the 1798 rebellion, the Great Famine and the Industrial Revolution. Passing away aged 96, Mary Ann lived into a period where photography was becoming popular. We have one photograph of her but this image of an older lady masks the strong willed and determined character that she possessed throughout her life. Mary Ann never married, or had any children of her own. However, after the execution of her brother Henry [...]