Today marks National Numeracy Day and who better to highlight than the remarkable Mary Ann McCracken! Throughout her life she was an ardent educationalist, inspired by her childhood teacher, David Manson.

David Manson was born at Cairn Castle on the Antrim Coast and settled in Belfast in 1752, the same year that Belfast Charitable Society was founded. He’d been sick as a child and was schooled by his mother, who based his learning around ‘play’, and not as was the wisdom of the time ‘discipline and punishment’. He developed a love of learning from his mother and experimented with his own teaching methods before setting up a school in Belfast.

Mary Ann joined the school when Manson was at the height of his fame. Young ladies like Mary Ann received the same extensive education as boys. At an early age Mary Ann developed a great accuracy with figures and this love of numeracy held her in good stead throughout the rest of her life. Mary Ann went on to set up a Muslin business with her older sister Margaret, and did the bookkeeping herself. During her time on the Ladies Committee of the Poor House she served in various roles including treasurer, and ensured the girls were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Mary also put her numeracy skills to go use calculating the amount of soap provision for each resident based on the quantity received from suppliers. Ever the championed of the poor, Mary Ann often wrote to the Men’s Committee to chastise then for the limited amount of soap ordered.

Today Belfast Charitable Society and the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation continue the proud legacy of individuals like Mary Ann, to address educational disadvantage in Belfast and beyond in the 21st century. Click here for more information on our current philanthropic activities.

You too can help support our work by booking on to one of our tours. From Mary Ann’s Belfast Walking Tour to Clifton House and Clifton Street Cemetery there is something for everyone! Click here for more information.