The life of Mary Ann McCracken, democrat and social reformer, has been overshadowed by the life of her more famous brother, Henry Joy, although she outlived him by 68 years and was politically active until just a few years before her death at the age of 96.
Mary Ann was born in 1770, the same year as Beethoven, when British slave-based planting and commercial profits came to £3.8 million (circa £450 million in contemporary terms) and at a time when Belfast, like the rest of the country, was experiencing enormous industrial disruption and social change. Irish industry was being systematically destroyed by economic policies designed to protect the interests of English and Scottish industrialists. Mary Ann’s family, however, were relatively prosperous and by the time of her birth well-established and prominent in Belfast social and commercial life. Mary Ann’s liberal and far-sighted parents sent her to David Manson’s progressive co-educational school, where ‘young ladies’ received the same education as the boys; Mary Ann excelled at mathematics.
All lectures will be held in St.Mary’s Parish Centre, Chapel Road, Cushendall, commencing at 8.30pm