Irish Republican News · July 7, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: The week in Irish history
The week in Irish history

By The Wild Geese

On July 8, 1770, Mary Ann McCracken -- patriot, philanthropist and sister of United Irish martyr Henry Joy McCracken -- was born in Belfast. Mary Ann was the fiercely independent daughter of a Presbyterian sea captain. With her sister, Margaret, she started a small muslin business while only in her late teens, unheard of for women at that time. She and her family helped revive interest in the Irish harp by founding the Belfast Harp Society. Mary Ann was a supporter of Henry Joy’s United Irish activities and may have helped him form many of his ideas regarding social reform and Catholic emancipation. Mary Ann worked hard to get a pardon for her brother in 1798, and even attempted to arrange an escape. When both these efforts failed, she accompanied Henry Joy to the gallows. After her friend Thomas Russell, in whom Mary Ann may have had a romantic interest, was executed for his United Irish activities in 1803, she withdrew from Irish politics. Much to her credit, however, Mary Ann did not become a bitter recluse -- she devoted most of the rest of her life to helping the poor and supporting the anti-slavery movement. She also contributed to Dr. Madden’s famous 7-volume history of the United Irishmen. Mary Ann died in 1866 at the age of 96.

© 2004 Irish Republican News