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So far Clifton House has created 73 blog entries.

Belfast Charitable Society & the Belfast Blitz: Return From Garron Tower


Following air strikes in April 1941  those in charge of Clifton House set about making arrangements to get the residents and the staff out of Belfast. They ultimately settled on Garron Tower on the North Coast as a safe refuge. Garron Tower was a quiet, isolated spot compared with life in the city of Belfast. Rationing also had an impact. In Belfast the relatives of the residents could have easily walked there for visits, however with petrol rationed, even those with cars did not have enough fuel to get to Garron Tower. The Matron requested additional games, gramophone records and a [...]

Belfast Charitable Society & the Belfast Blitz: Return From Garron Tower2022-10-25T22:00:52+00:00

The Case of Mary West- an abandoned child


Children were admitted for a variety of reasons to the Poor House, but we have records of a number that were abandoned by their families. Two years prior to Mary West’s admission to the Poor House a volcanic eruption had caused what was known as the ‘Year of No Summer’, which decimated crops and led to the spread of disease. Even in 1818 the effects of famine, fever and poverty were still rife in Belfast. The Poor House was under pressure to cope with demand, and the conditions in the town drove many people to desperate actions in order to survive. [...]

The Case of Mary West- an abandoned child2022-10-25T22:21:13+00:00

Mr Girmondi, Dancing Dogs & the Belfast Poor House


There have been some unusual donations to Belfast Charitable Society over the years, many of them recorded on huge wooden boards with the details of donors stencilled on. On this day (30 September) 1818 Mr Girmondi, who was in Belfast entertaining the citizens of the town, became one of these donors. Girmondi was the proprietor of a troop of 'Dancing Dogs' and he donated a days takings from his exhibition to the Poor House in order to support its work. You too can support the work of Belfast's oldest charity! Our weekend tours offer something for everyone- from our Friday afternoon [...]

Mr Girmondi, Dancing Dogs & the Belfast Poor House2022-09-29T15:50:57+00:00

Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866): you know the name, now hear her story!


You will have undoubtedly heard her name in recent weeks and months in the media, but do you know the full story of Mary Ann McCracken? This formidable woman would have been a well known figure in her day, walking through the streets of Belfast, always on a mission! Now you have the chance to walk those same streets, and find out more about her life, the places she lived, worked and visited. You will come away not only knowing more about Mary Ann herself, but also what life was like in Belfast and Ireland when she was alive. You will [...]

Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866): you know the name, now hear her story!2022-09-29T15:49:10+00:00

Belfast Charitable Society 270th Birthday!


At the George, 28th August 1752 The evening of Friday 28th August 1752 was cool in Belfast. After closing up their businesses and homes, a group of nineteen merchants, burgesses [councillors] and the local vicar, made their way to the George Inn at the corner of North Street and John Street (now Royal Avenue). It was there in the George Inn that these gentlemen formed the Belfast Charitable Society, to address poverty and help the poor. The names of the founders were recorded in the first minute book of the new society, which is now held in the Clifton House archives: [...]

Belfast Charitable Society 270th Birthday!2022-08-28T07:13:37+00:00

On This Day 1818: An Unusual Visitor to the Belfast Poor House


On Saturday 22 August 1818 the Belfast Poor House had a rather unusual visitor. Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia dismounted his carriage at the stone steps in front of the building and was given a tour of the institution by members of Belfast Charitable Society. The Grand Duke must have been impressed by what he saw as he was shown through the corridors of the Poor House, as he made a substantial donation of £54 to support its work- the equivalent of over £5,000 today. His name was subsequently added to one of our donation boards which originally hung in [...]

On This Day 1818: An Unusual Visitor to the Belfast Poor House2022-08-15T08:38:10+00:00

#OnThisDay 1944: The first wedding between Belfast Charitable Society Residents


During the Second World War, residents of Clifton House- then known as the Belfast Charitable Institution- were evacuated from Belfast to Garron Tower on the North Coast due to the threat of air raids on the city.  It was during the stay there that the Belfast Charitable Society had the first recorded marriage between two residents in its long history. A bachelor called John Bloomer, aged 83, married Frances Ash, aged 65, at Largy Road Parish Church, a short distance from Garron Tower. The ceremony was attended by residents and staff. The couple were granted permission by the Board to honeymoon [...]

#OnThisDay 1944: The first wedding between Belfast Charitable Society Residents2022-08-15T08:34:41+00:00

Who Do You Think You Are? Tracing the McCabe family


We recently had the pleasure of welcoming Mirta Ramer on a tour of Clifton House and Clifton Street Cemetery. Mirta has been researching her family tree, through the McCabe line and discovered her relations were buried in Clifton Street Cemetery. The McCabe family were originally from Lurgan and Mirta has traced her family back to her 6x great grandparents Patrick McCabe married Mary Maziere. The most famous member of the family is arguably Thomas McCabe (Mirta’s 5x great granduncle). Thomas McCabe was a goldsmith and cotton manufacturer who had a business in North Street. Together with Robert Joy and Captain McCracken [...]

Who Do You Think You Are? Tracing the McCabe family2022-08-11T19:14:42+00:00

Peace Day Celebrations (1919) & the Belfast Charitable Institution


The Belfast Charitable Society’s archive is a unique record of the work of a key Belfast institution. However, you only have to pick out one of the volumes of our Minute Books to discover that they give a glimpse in to the wider history of Belfast city itself. On 11 August 1919 the Orderly of the old people’s home, then known as the Belfast Charitable Institution, reported that the residents thoroughly enjoyed the Peace Day Celebrations held earlier in the week. This parade marked the end of the Great War, and gave those in Belfast the opportunity to cheer on the [...]

Peace Day Celebrations (1919) & the Belfast Charitable Institution2022-08-11T19:04:17+00:00

International Cat Day: Matron Janet MacVicar


Janet MacVicar was appointed Matron at Clifton House in 1947. At the time of her appointment she was nursing in Ayrshire. Our feline loving followers will be happy to read that Janet was an animal lover and was granted permission to bring her cats with her to her new employment. Based on our research we believe these were the first pets ever in Clifton House! As an interesting side note, in the late 1940s Matron MacVicar was interviewed along with some female residents about life in Clifton House. Janet reflected that the older ladies always got dressed up in their best [...]

International Cat Day: Matron Janet MacVicar2022-08-11T19:10:47+00:00
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