Northern Ireland news

Events to be held to mark 250 years since birth of social reformer Mary Ann McCracken

Mary Ann McCracken was an abolitionist, philanthropist and reformer

SOME of Belfast's key heritage and cultural institutions are coming together to mark 250 years since the birth of one of the city's most important citizens.

Mary Ann McCracken was a social reformer, philanthropist and abolitionist who lived in Belfast between 1770 and 1866.

The sister of United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken, she campaigned on behalf of the poor of the city, children, women and workers, as well as fighting against the slave trade.

To mark 250 years since her birth, the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation has teamed up with several organisations to create a series of free events to celebrate her life, legacy and relevance today.

In partnership with Clifton House, National Museums Northern Ireland, Linen Hall Library, Reclaim the Enlightenment and the Frances Hutcheson Institute, a diverse programme called 'Mary Ann McCracken 250' will tell her story, who she was and what she achieved.

The series will also link her legacy to current issues including slavery, poverty and women's rights - some of the many issues that she campaigned for during her lifetime.

Norma Sinte, chair of the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation, said: "Two hundred and fifty years after her birth, the legacy of Mary Ann McCracken's achievement and what she stood for is alive and well today.

"Her fight for the rights and welfare of workers, the poor, women and children continues to influence the work not only of the Belfast Charitable Society but also the Foundation, which was established in her name.

"We are delighted to be working with so many diverse organisations to provide such a wide range of events to mark Mary Ann's 250th birthday.

"To honour Mary Ann, all those involved have given their time and resource free of charge."

Mary Ann McCracken 250 will launch on June 10 with guest speaker Cathryn McWilliams presenting her doctoral research into Mary Ann's life.

Other events include a discussion on ‘The Spirit of Inquiry and Age of Enlightenment' organised by Reclaim the Enlightenment and the Frances Hutcheson Institute and Mary Ann's cultural endeavours are explored in talks hosted by Linen Hall Library.

On her birthday on July 8, a special event exploring ‘Who and what did Mary Ann fight for?' will examine the causes closest to her heart and their relevance today.

Details of all events, which run until July 14, can be found on

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