A number of members of the Belfast Charitable Society were involved in the 1798 rebellion. Dr William Drennan, visiting physician to the Poor House, came up with the concept of an organisation to unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter, which became the Society of United Irishmen. Thomas McCabe, a prominent member of the Belfast Charitable Society, was active in within the movement. Thomas lived at the Vicinage on Buttle’s Loney, behind the Poor House, on which St Malachy’s College now stands. It is said that much of the 1798 rebellion was planned in McCabe’s house.

Mary Ann McCracken’s brother, Henry Joy McCracken went into hiding after the Battle of Antrim. He was on his way to a ship to America to escape the Crown forces when he was captured. McCracken was put on trial and condemned to death for his part in the 1798 rebellion. He was hanged at the Market House. Following his death Mary Ann McCracken devoted herself to her work with the Belfast Charitable Society and other charitable causes, especially around issues relating to women and children.

The Poor House was requisitioned by the military throughout the Rebellion, and for sometime afterwards, as a military barracks. On this day (4 March) 1799 the Belfast Charitable Society received a letter informing them of the military’s intention to vacate the building. However, it was the following year, in 1800, before they received permission to re-entered the Poor House. The work of the Belfast Charitable Society resumed as if the Rebellion never occurred and they continued their work to address disadvantage as they entered a new century.

Want to learn more about the 1798 and its impact on Belfast Charitable Society. Join us 19 March at 1pm for our ‘Plots & Plotters’ virtual talk. Click here to book.