Audio Recordings

Dónall Hegarty (Hegarty):

Rugadh Anraí Seoigh Mhic Reachtain i 1767 agus rugadh a dheirfiúr, Máire Áine Nic Reachtain i 1770. Tógadh an bheirt acu i gclann tionsclaíoch i mBéal Feirste. Bhí cónaí orthu ar cúlbhealach M’Kittrick’s (Anois Joy’s Entry). Captaen Seán Mac Reachtain an t-ainm a bhí ar a n-athair, úinéir loinge agus duine mór le rá sa chathair a bhí ann. Bhí Clann Mhic Reachtain sáite sa tionscadal línéadaigh, chadáis agus roinnt earnalácha eile. Bhunaigh a seanathair, Francis Joy Páipéar Nuachtáin darbh ainm ‘The NewsLetter’, nuachtán cáiliúil atá go fóill ar fáil i mBéal Feirste. Bhí Clann Mhic Reachtain ar cheann de na teaghlaigh ba chlúití i mBéal Feirste sna laethanta sin.

Henry Joy McCracken was born in 1767 and his sister Mary Anne in 1770, they were both raised in one of Belfast’s industrialist families. They lived in M’Kittrick’s Entry (Now Joy’s Entry). Captain John McCracken was their father, a shipowner, who was we’ll known in the city. The McCracken family made their wealth through the linen, cotton and other industries. Their Grandfather Francis Joy founded the renowned newspaper ‘The NewsLetter’, a paper which is still popular in Belfast today.

Rossa McIlvenna:

Ba dhaoine díograiseacha cultúrtha iad Anraí Seoigh agus Máire Áine Mhic Reachtain, bhí baint ag an bheirt seo leis an fhéile chliútach, ‘Féile na Cláirsí Bhéal Feirste’ a bhunú i 1792. Thit an fhéile amach thar thar trí lá idir an 11-14ú Iúil 1792 sna seomraí tionóil in aice le Sráid Waring. Féile stairiúil ab í Féile na Cláirsí Bhéal Feirste, an chéad fhéile dá chineál i mBéal Feirste agus léirigh an fhéile an dioscúrsa a bhí ann agus a raibh le teacht

“It is no exaggeration to say that from those musical and political activities in Belfast, during the summer of 1792, sprang the most significant political effort in three centuries of Ireland’s troubled history and the first genuine movement to study and preserve her ancient culture.”

Ní mór trácht a dhéanamh ar Edward Bunting, fear a raibh mar chroílár gníomhaíocht cultúrtha chlann mhic Reachtain. Ba cheoltóir agus bailitheoir ceoil traidisiúnta é Edward Bunting agus bhí cónaí le clann Mhic Reachtain óna raibh sé 11 bliana d’aois agus é mar phrintíseach de chuid an orgánaí William Ware. Ba ghnáth le Bunting poirt a chasadh go rialta i dteach Mhic Reachtain, agus thaitin na poirt go mór le John McCracken go háirithe. Nuair a cuireadh tús le Féile na Cláirsí Bhéal Feirste i 1792 bhí freagracht ag Edward Bunting ceol traidisiúnta na hÉireann a tras-scríobh, agus tá sé ráite go raibh spéis mhór tagtha ar an cheol traidisiúnta de thairbhe obair tras-scríobh Edward Bunting. D’fhoilsigh Edward Bunting ‘The Ancient Music Of Ireland’ le trí imleabhar, an chéad imleabhar bunaithe ar na hamhráin a bhailigh sé ó Fhéile na Cláirsí, an dara imleabhar i 1809 agus an tríú himleabhar i 1840.

 

Odhrán Ó Cuilín:

Bhí baint nach beag ag Máire Áine, mar rannpháirtí gan ainm, leis an dara himleabhar de chuid Edward Bunting a chur le chéile. D’imir Máire Áine ról lárnach i mbailiúcháin Edward Bunting, d’fheidhmigh sí mar rúnaí neamhoifigiúil do Bunting, chuir sí é féin i dteagmháil le ceoltóirí agus daoine cuí fud fad na tíre tríd a teagmhálaithe féin.

The McCracken’s were also enthusiastic cultural activists as well, they played key roles in establishing the famous ‘Belfast Harp festival’ in 1792. The festival took place over a three-day period in the Assembly rooms beside Waring Street between the 11-14th of July 1792. It was an historic festival, the first of its kind in Belfast, which highlighted the discourse of the time and the period which came after.

“It is no exaggeration to say that from those musical and political activities in Belfast, during the summer of 1792, sprang the most significant political effort in three centuries of Ireland’s troubled history and the first genuine movement to study and preserve her ancient culture.”

Edward Bunting is a name worth mentioning when discussing the McCracken’s cultural input. Bunting was one of the most significant traditional music collectors in Irish history, he moved to Belfast when he gained an apprenticeship with the organist William Ware and moved in with the McCracken family at age 11. Bunting would regularly play tunes to the delight of John McCracken especially. When the Belfast Harp Festival was established in 1792 Bunting had the responsibility of transcribing the Irish oral tradition and as a result of his transcriptions a huge spike in interest happened in regards to Irish traditional music. Bunting published the ‘Ancient Music Of Ireland’ in three Volumes. The first volume was published in 1796 with 66 tunes coming from the Belfast Harp Festival itself, the second was published in 1809 and the third was published in 1840.

Mary Ann played a pivotal role in assisting Edward Bunting in his collecting of traditional music, introducing him to people across Ireland, acting as his unofficial secretary and contributed anonymously to the second volume of his work The Ancient Music of Ireland in 1809.

 

Bronagh Ní Corra:

D’úsáid Anraí Seoigh a phost mar fhear gnó ag taisteal fud fad na tíre mar chlúdach chun craobhacha eile de chuid Chumainn na nÉireannach Aontaithe a bhunú in Éirinn. Gabhadh Anraí Seoigh ag na húdaráis agus cuireadh chuig Príosún Chill Mhaighneann é i nDeireadh Fómhair 1796. Ligeadh amach ar bhannaí é, ach chuaigh Anraí Seoigh díreach ar ais chun na réabhlóide a phleanáil ó thuaidh. I ndiaidh neart cruinnithe le ceannasaíocht Chumainn na nÉireannach Aontaithe i mBaile Átha Cliath, agus cruinniú na heagraíochta in Aontroim, ceapadh Anraí Seoigh mar cheannaire ar eagraíocht an Chumainn in Aontroim. D’fhógair Anraí Seoigh forógra ar son airm i Meitheamh 1798, agus an lá dár gcionn ar an 7ú lá, d’ionsaí na hÉireannaigh Aontaithe baile Aontroma. Cé go raibh rath orthu sa chéad dul síos, tháinig trúpaí breise Shasana agus fuair arm Shasana lámh an uachtair ar na réabhlóidithe.

Fionn Grew:

Henry Joy used his profession as a businessman to travel across Ireland and establish branches of the United Irishmen. He was arrested by the authorities and sent to Kilmainham gaol in December 1796. Released on bail, Henry Joy returned north immediately to organise rebellion. After meetings with the leadership in Dublin, and a meeting in Antrim, Henry Joy was elected leader of the Antrim United Irishmen. Henry Joy proclaimed a call for arms, it was answered and on the following day, the 7th of June 1798 the rebels attacked Antrim town. While there were was initial success, the attack failed dafter English reinforcements came.

Lorcan Grew:

D’éirigh le hAnraí Seoigh éalú ó fhórsaí na corónach, d’imigh sé leis agus slua de chuid na nÉireannach Aontaithe ar a sheachaint sna sléibhte. Sna sléibhte, chuidigh muintir na tuaithe leis agus chur Máire Áine teachtaireachtaí, airgead agus acmhainní chucu fosta. Rinne Anraí Seoigh iarracht imeacht chun na Stáit Aontaithe ach gabhadh é nuair a rinne fir ghnó aithne air. Tugadh rogha de Anraí Seoigh, ghéill is ainmnithe ceannairí eile na ceannairce a thabhairt chuig na húdaráis agus gheobhadh sé trócaire, nó bás. Níor ghéill Anraí Seoigh agus cuireadh chun bás é ar an 17ú mí Iúil i gCorn Market, áit ar bhronn a sheanathair ar an chathair na blianta roimhe sin. Cuireadh Anraí Seoigh Mhic Reachtain i bparóiste Naomh Seoirse Bhéal Feirste ar dtús. Sna luath 1900í thóg Francis Joseph Bigger corp Anraí Seoigh Mhic Reachtain agus chuir sé Anraí Seoigh sa reilig Clifton, san uaigh chéanna le Máire Áine.

Henry Joy and other rebels evaded enemy capture and sought refuge in the mountains. Locals and May Anne especially helped feed, clothe and hide the rebels. Mary Anne was able to provide communications and money to the rebels. Henry Joy attempted to flee Ireland on a boat to America when he was recognised by other businessmen. When captured, Henry Joy was given a choice, either give up the names of other rebels or face death, he chose death and on the 17th of July he was hung in Corn Market, a place which was gifted to the city by his grandfather. Henry Joy McCracken was buried initially in St. George’s parish grounds; however, in early 1900’s Francis Joseph Bigger reinterred Henry Joy’s corps and buried him in Clifton Street Cemetery in the same plot as his sister Mary Ann.

 

Piaras McMullan:

Bhí Anraí Seoigh agus Máire Áine mar chuid de chlann liobrálach agus cheannródach san am sin, cuireadh duine ‘oilte’ ar John McCracken. Chaith John seal i bpriosún sa Fhrainc agus chuaigh cultúr na Fraince i bhfeidhm air. Nuair a tháinig sé ar ais fuair sé teagascóir dúchasach Fraincise dá pháistí. Bhí tradisiún i gclann Mhic Reachtain maidir le cuidiú le daoine a bhí ar an ghannchuid, agus is iomaí uair a chuir siad lámha i bpócaí s’acu féin chun feabhas a chur ar staid mhuintir na cathrach.

D’fhreastail an bheirt acu ar scoil David Manson ar Shráid Dhún na nGall, bhí John McCracken tógtha go mór le cuir chuige David Manson, agus a chuid smaointeoireachta. Scoil forásach ar bhun chomhoideachais, scoil a d’imir tionchar mór orthu agus iad óg agus iad ag fás aníos. Theagaisc an scoil seo le modhanna neamhchoitianta, a leag béim ar shult seachas pionós. Bhí páistí John ábalta cuidiú leis agus iad ag aois óg le gnó an chomhlachta, go háirithe mar a bhain sé le suimiú a dhéanamh. Chuir na scoláirí imní ar na seanóirí nuair a thosaigh siad ag léamh obair ó dhaoine cosúil le William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, agus ansin Tom Paine.

Ethan Murray:

Henry Joy and Mary Anne grew up in a liberal and forward-thinking household for its time, John McCracken was considered a ‘cultured’ man. Having spent time as a prisoner in France, John quickly took to their way of living. On return he hired a private French native speaker as a tutor for his kids.

Due to their fathers forward thinking and admiration for the ethics and way in which David Moran taught, they both attended David Manson’s co-educational school. This school was progressive in its time, a school which had a major influence on them at a young age and as they grew older. The school emphasised amusement rather than punishment. They children were able at a young age help their father in his business, primarily working out sums. As the pupils grew older, they soon started to worry their elders by reading works by the likes of William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and then Tom Paine.

Meadhb Clarke:

B’fhorásaí í Máire Áine Nic Reachtain ach an oiread, duine chun tosaigh ar lucht a linne ó thaobh na polaitíochta agus ó thaobh cúrsaí sóisialta de. Mhol sí comhionannas idir mná agus fiú, fiú i gCumann na nÉireannach Aontaithe. Bhí ról lárnach aici i gcoiste na mban, eagraíocht a dhearna obair ar son daoine bochta agus teacht na mbocht i mBéal Feirste. Mar gheall ar obair Mháire Áine, bunaíodh scoil agus naíscoil ar son dílleachtaí na cathrach. Bhí freagracht ag Máire Áine ar mhúinteoir a cheapadh do na scoileanna agus rinne sé a seacht dhícheall chun múinteoir a cheapadh a raibh oideachas ardchaighdeán aige agus a thacaigh le cúiseanna Mháire Áine. D’obair Mháire Áine go smior i dTeach na mBocht (Teach Clifton) ó aois óg, tá sé ráite go raibh sí i mbun éadach a dhéanamh do pháistí Teach na mBocht. D’obair sí i dTeach na mBocht agus í níos sine mar chathaoirleach an Chumainn Carthanachta Bhéal Feirste. Is léiriú é sin de ghrá an dualgais a bhí aici chun coinníollacha daoine bochta na cathrach a leasú. Agus Máire Áine mar bhean ghnó, sheas sí amach ó lucht ghnó eile. Nuair a bhí comhlachtaí ag cuir chun bóthair cuid mhór oibrithe i dtréimhsí crua eachnamaíochta, rinne Máre Áine a mhalairt, dúirt sí “could not think of dismissing our workers, because nobody would give them employment”.

Chuidigh Máire Áine leis na hÉireannaigh Aontaithe idir eagraí agus i bhfoirm phraiticúla mar shampla nuair a bhí Anraí Seoigh agus a comrádaithe ar an tseachaint sna sléibhte I ndiaidh cath Baile Aontroma, ghlac Máire Áine acmhainní chucu go rialta agus d’eagraigh sí bealaigh chun iad a thabhairt chun slánú. Tógadh Máire Áine ar shráid High ach bhog sí agus a clainne idir Sráid Rosemary, Sráid Dhún na nDall agus Donegall Pass. Thug Máire Áine cúram de Maria Bodel, iníon tabhartha Anraí Seoigh Mhic Reachtain go dtí go bhfuair sí bás ag 96 bliana d’aois. Cuireadh í in uaigh neamh-mharcáilte sa reilig Clifton, ar chúl Teach Clifton. D’fhán uaigh Mháire Áine neamh-mharcáilte go dtí na luath 1900í nuair a baineadh corp a deartháir Anraí Seoigh Mhic Reachtain ó talamh Naomh Seoirse agus cuireadh san uaigh chéanna iad sa reilig Shráid Clifton.

Padraig Mac Aoidh:

Mary Anne McCracken was a progressive, someone who was well ahead of her time socially and politically. She advocated equal status of men and women, including in the United Irishmen. Mary Anne had a key role in the women’s committee, a group which helped to alleviate the condition of the poor in Belfast. As a result of her efforts, a preschool and primary school were established for the orphans of the city. Mary Anne went to great lengths to find a teacher who was in line with her beliefs and who was capable of a high standard of teaching. Mary Ann worked immensely in Belfast’s poor house (Clifton House), it’s said that at a young age she helped make clothes for the children in Clifton House. She worked in the poor house in later years as the chairperson of the Belfast Charitable Association; this reflects her labour of love of helping improve the conditions of the city’s poorest. As a businesswoman, Mary Ann stood out from the rest, during difficult economic times, she kept workers on in contrast to what every other business was doing at the time, and she said “could not think of dismissing our workers, because nobody would give them employment”.

Mary Ann helped the United Irishmen in many forms, between organising and in practical forms such as when Henry Joy and his men were evading capture in the mountains after the battle of Antrim, it was Mary Ann who brought recourses to them, she also tried to organise ways for them to escape. Mary Ann was raised in High Street, but her and her family moved between Rosemary Street, Donegall Street and Donegall Pass. Mary Ann also raised Mary Bodel, Henry Joy’s daughter until her death at 96. Mary Ann remained in an unmarked grave until the early 1900’s when her brother, Henry Joy’s corpse was removed from St. George’s parish grounds and reburied in Clifton Street cemetery; they were both buried in the same plot.

 

Oisín Ó Conghaile:

Bhí Máire Áine i gceannas ar choiste chealú na sclábhaíochta na mban nuair a bhí an ghluaiseacht chealú na sclábhaíochta faoi lán seoil. I rith an 19ú haois déag, tháinig laghdú ar spiorad an radacachais i mBéal Feirste i gcomparáid leis na 1790í, mhaígh Máire Áine “I am both ashamed and sorry to think that Belfast has so far degenerated in regard to the Anti-Slavery Cause”. Cé gur tháinig athrú ar Bhéal Feirste, d’fhán Máire Áine dílis do phrionsabal s’aici go dtí an lá a chuireadh sa talamh í. Ag 89 bliana d’aois bhí sé go fóill ag scaipeadh bileoga chealú na sclábhaíochta amach ag na dugaí chuig na himircigh ag dul chuig na Stáit Aontaithe, áit a raibh sclábhaíocht go fóill dleathach. Fuair Máire Áine bás ar an 26ú Iúil 1866.

Mary Anne McCracken lead the anti-slavery movement in Belfast, she founded the women’s abolition committee. During the 19th century the spirit of radicalism had slowly perished in Belfast, Mary Anne stated “I am both ashamed and sorry to think that Belfast has so far degenerated in regard to the Anti-Slavery Cause”. Regardless of the changes which came to Belfast, May Anne stayed true to her beliefs to the day she died. At the age of 89 she was seen handing out anti-slavery leaflets at the docs to immigrants destined for the United States, where slavery was still legal. Mary Anne McCracken died on the 26th of July 1886.