Barbour Fund £100K Helps Address Social Disadvantage


BELFAST Charitable Society is celebrating another milestone in its bid to address social disadvantage and wants to thank the Barbour family for its generosity that enabled this to happen. Together through the Barbour Fund, £100k has been committed to worthy causes in Lisburn and North Belfast over the last five years ago. Established when The Hilden District Nursing Home and Belfast Charitable Society came together through a shared mission, the Barbour Fund, distributes the philanthropic giving on their behalf and will run until 2021. Both societies have a long and successful history of caring for older people, working to improve the [...]

Barbour Fund £100K Helps Address Social Disadvantage2019-05-23T16:15:39+00:00

Patriot, Poet & Physician: Dr William Drennan M.A. M.D.


Dr William Drennan was the youngest son of Rev Thomas Drennan, minister of the First Presbyterian Church Belfast, and Anne Lennox. During this period Presbyterians were impacted by the Penal Codes, and as such many 'sons of the manse' attended university in Scotland. William Drennan studied arts in Glasgow (1772) and completed his medical studies in Edinburgh (1778). Dr Drennan was heavily influenced by enlightenment ideas and thinking. On his return to Ireland he practised in Belfast, Newry and Dublin. Dr Drennan was the originator of the concept of what would become the United Irishmen (1791) and he had been active [...]

Patriot, Poet & Physician: Dr William Drennan M.A. M.D.2019-02-05T09:30:14+00:00

Poor House Infirmary: a case of ‘scald head’


The Charitable Society had resolved to set up Belfast’s first hospital  at its inaugural meeting in 1752. The hospital formed part of the original Poor House complex which finally opened in 1774. A string of prominent physicians and surgeons served the destitute and ill in the hospital including Dr William Drennan (founder of the United Irishmen),  Dr. James McDonnell (heralded for his work on the resuscitation of drowning victims) and the Purdon family (who served as doctors in the Poor House from one generation to the next for over a century). Our Minute Books demonstrate that January was a particularly busy time for [...]

Poor House Infirmary: a case of ‘scald head’2019-01-09T10:56:18+00:00

Fleas in the Poor House


January 1809 witnessed a resurgence in an issue which had plagued the Poor House... the presence of fleas in the bedrooms! This had been an issue from the earliest days of the Poor House as in July 1775 David Hackett’s bed was recorded as being “overrun with vermin”. This was in a period before there was pest control as we know today and the Belfast Charitable Society were forced to employ the children in some rudimentary pest control to help alleviate the problem and stop the potential spread of disease. The Orderly, who examined conditions in the Poor House described how he “had [...]

Fleas in the Poor House2019-01-03T09:33:55+00:00

136th Benn Christmas Dinner: the brothers behind the name


Edward Benn Today, 19th December 2018, marks the 136th annual Benn Christmas Dinner. But who were the Benn family and what was their association with the Belfast Charitable Society? Edward (1798-1874) and George Benn (1801-1882), like many who supported the Belfast Poor House combined their keen business sense with a philanthropic spirit. The brothers originally came from Tandragee, County Armagh, and worked in the brewing trade in Downpatrick, County Down. However, it was in the iron ore mining business on their estate at Glenravell, County Antrim, that the brothers made their fortune. Edward and George were both active members [...]

136th Benn Christmas Dinner: the brothers behind the name2018-12-19T08:41:19+00:00

Tales from the Poor House: The young Robert Grainger


The year 1818 was tough for the people of Belfast. Many were impacted by the famine conditions and the associated fever. This led some to take drastic actions. We are not sure what the circumstances were for the young Robert Grainger whose grandfather kicked him out of his home. Whether the grandfather couldn't afford his upkeep, or he had stolen from the family,  or if there was some other sort of family dispute, is something we can never know for sure. On 7th November 1818 the Belfast Charitable Society however, took pity on young Robert and agreed that he should be admitted to [...]

Tales from the Poor House: The young Robert Grainger2018-11-14T08:06:45+00:00

Belfast Charitable Society at the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland Conference 2018


The Belfast Charitable Society are proud to be attending the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland Annual Conference at Cultra Manor today (8th November 2018). The conference offers fundraisers the chance to learn and share best practice in fundraising. This year’s theme is #KeepingItFresh both in terms of yourself as a fundraiser and also your cause. Belfast Charitable Society have, for over 266 years, promoted philanthropy in Belfast and further afield , so we know how important it is to be innovative in an ever changing climate of giving and fundraising. Belfast Charitable Society are proud to be one of the sponsors of the conference, so [...]

Belfast Charitable Society at the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland Conference 20182018-11-08T10:20:00+00:00

Children in the Poor House: 107 years of care and compassion


When it comes to the stories from the Poor House, the experience of the children are some of the most emotive. Some children came in with their families, others were orphaned and deserted, and a few knew only of life in the Poor House itself. In the 107 years from the first child entered until the last child left the younger occupants of the house took priority. The month of November was a significant month for the children in the care of the Belfast Charitable Society. In November 1775, the first child arrived at the Poor House and in November 1882, [...]

Children in the Poor House: 107 years of care and compassion2018-11-01T08:20:10+00:00

The Search for Lt. Patrick Kerr Dixon’s Family: Can you help?


Royal Garrison Artillery Cadets, the figure steeping forward is believed to be Patrick Kerr Dixon. This image was sent home as a postcard to his parents. Clifton House recently discovered a series of over 180 letters from Lt. Patrick Dixon to his parents and sister amongst other family papers. Thanks to our volunteer Jim Ferran, and Clare Tuohy who got in contact when the story broke, we have been able to piece together more of his life. Do you know of the family? Are you related? We would love to hear from you! Patrick Kerr Dixon After the war, [...]

The Search for Lt. Patrick Kerr Dixon’s Family: Can you help?2018-10-23T12:57:35+00:00

Great War Letters Unearthed in Clifton House: Lieutenant Patrick Kerr Dixon, Royal Garrison Artillery


A selection of Patrick's letters and other ephemera he sent back from the front line to his parents and sister in Dublin. The Belfast Charitable Society at Clifton House, whilst preparing for its autumn series of lectures, has uncovered a suitcase of letters and material from the Great War relating to the Dixon family of Dublin. What has been uncovered is over 180 letters, most in pristine condition, which tell the story of an Irish Officer’s life at the front during WW1 and his correspondence with his parents in upper middle class Dublin. Paula Reynolds, CEO of the Belfast [...]

Great War Letters Unearthed in Clifton House: Lieutenant Patrick Kerr Dixon, Royal Garrison Artillery2018-10-18T15:46:24+00:00
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