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New Northern Ireland wide school funding will be a ‘lifeline’ for families


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 [...]

New Northern Ireland wide school funding will be a ‘lifeline’ for families2022-11-24T20:55:51+00:00

Celebrating being ‘The First Great Charity of this Town’ with new publication


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 [...]

Celebrating being ‘The First Great Charity of this Town’ with new publication2022-11-10T16:53:28+00:00

A Tale Fit For Halloween: The Murder of Robert Morrison


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 [...]

A Tale Fit For Halloween: The Murder of Robert Morrison2022-11-03T16:33:59+00:00

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

Exploring the unmarked graves in Clifton Street Cemetery: Mary Gunning


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 [...]

Exploring the unmarked graves in Clifton Street Cemetery: Mary Gunning2022-10-25T22:19:48+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

Black History Month: Philanthropy, Slavery and Abolition


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 [...]

Black History Month: Philanthropy, Slavery and Abolition2022-10-03T14:04:41+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

On This Day 1918: Former Poor House child donated £50 to Belfast Charitable Society


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. [...]

On This Day 1918: Former Poor House child donated £50 to Belfast Charitable Society2022-09-09T23:10:25+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
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