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We are delighted to announce that our President’s Talk series returns each Thursday evening in November 2022. This year the talks will features an array of speakers from historical and legal fields who will explore the shared history and contested narratives tied to the Society and the developing Belfast of that time.

The second talk of the series will be delivered by Kenneth Dawson on “A House Divided: Belfast, its Charitable Society and the 1798 Rebellion”.

The Belfast Charitable Society provided civic and philanthropic leadership in an age of unprecedented urban growth. The town’s middle class entrepreneurs established a range of bodies that offered moral, educational, cultural and intellectual guidance at a time of great change. As revolution dawned in Europe, political battle lines were drawn at home. The Charitable Society’s governors included men associated with the political idealism of the United Irishmen as well as those of a more cautious disposition. This talk traces the role of some of the Charitable Society’s leading lights and their activities in the year of the 1798 Rebellion.

Kenneth L. Dawson is the joint editor (with Dr Myrtle Hill and Dr Brian Turner) of 1798: Rebellion in County Down (Newtownards, 1998) and author of The Belfast Jacobin: Samuel Neilson and the United Irishmen (Dublin, 2017). Originally from Belfast, he was formerly Head of History and Politics and is currently a vice-principal in Down High School, Downpatrick.


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