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Travel & Tourism

Life and Times of Mary Ann McCracken at Belfast’s Féile an Phobail

Mary Ann McCracken’s story and endeavours for social justice and reform will be told at Clifton House on Thursday 26th July, the 152nd anniversary of her death.

Many may not have heard of Mary Ann McCracken, a formidable lady, born on 8th July 1770 who died at the age of 96 in 1866. She had fought for reform, equality and social justice throughout her life which spanned some of the most turbulent years of Irish history, including the 1798 rebellion. Her own brother, the liberal Presbyterian Henry Joy McCracken, a leading member of the United Irishmen Society, was executed for his role in this rebellion.

Active in anti-slavery circles in Belfast; involved in the early women suffrage campaigns; prison reform schemes as well as a committee set up for abolishing climbing boys in chimney sweeping, she was a woman who strove to change society.

Mary Ann McCracken

Mary Ann McCracken

Féile an Phobail

Paula Reynolds, CEO of the Belfast Charitable Society said, “The Belfast Charitable Society is extremely pleased to be part of the Féile An Phobail. This is an opportunity for those partaking in the Festival, as well as others, to hear how one woman strove against social injustice, helped the poor, ran a muslin business and took in her brother’s illegitimate daughter, defying family opposition, after he was hanged in the 1798 rebellion.

“Mary Ann McCracken is a central figure in Belfast’s history, a great philanthropist who campaigned tirelessly for the welfare of women and children and the political equality. If you are interested in the history of Belfast then you must listen to this impressive woman’s story.”

Find Out More

The event, ‘The relevance of the life and work of Mary Ann McCracken for Belfast Today’ in partnership with Féile An Phobail and the Greater New Lodge Community Festival, ‘ will take place on Thursday 26th July at 7pm in Clifton House. The event is FREE but booking is essential. Please call 028 90 997022 to reserve your space.

Travel & Tourism

Most Appropriately Dressed Lady and Gent Crowned at 2021 Balmoral Show

The Most Appropriately Dressed Lady and Gent at the 2021 Balmoral Show was won by Caroline Martin from Tempo and Robert Wallace from Ballynahinch. Flower Wall kindly provided by the Blossom Lane Co, Hillsborough.

The Most Appropriately Dressed competition returned this year to the Balmoral Show and once again it proved to be a hit with visitors, with a record number of entries.

Taking place on Saturday 25th September, Cool FM’s Melissa Riddell had the difficult task of judging the Most Appropriately Dressed Lady and Gent. A range of fabulous prizes were on offer, with the overall winners of each category receiving a stylish country outfit provided by title competition sponsor Dubarry of Ireland as well as a luxury two night stay with B&B and one evening meal provided by Ireland’s Blue Book.

This year’s Most Appropriately Dressed Lady was won by Caroline Martin from Tempo while Robert Wallace from Ballynahinch was crowned the Most Appropriately Dressed Gent. Runner-up winners were Ellen Deery from Dundalk and Alan Martin from Hertfordshire.

On the day, the Flower Wall was kindly provided by the Blossom Lane Co, Hillsborough.

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Travel & Tourism

Tourism NI Equips Industry for Incentive Travel Excellence

Front (l to r): Kim Smart, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Hannah Watson, Larchfield Estate, Michael Dalton, SITE Ireland Chapter, Joanne Taylor, Tourism NI, Charlene Lourens-Griffiths, Visit Derry, Naomi Wilson, Clayton Hotel Belfast and Caitriona Lavery, Hastings Hotels. Back (l to r): Caroline Wilson, Taste & Tour, Ashleigh Hamilton, Killeavey Castle, Jennifer Michael, National Trust Giant's Causeway, Jamese McCloy, Glenshane Country Farm, Terry Kelly, Killeavey Castle, Kellie-Anne Small, Hilton Hotel Belfast, Judy Hutton, Linen Mill Studios, Jonathan Campbell, Titanic Belfast and Stephanie Sheerin, Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast.

Tourism NI and The Society of Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Ireland have joined forces to deliver an educational initiative to support the tourism industry here as it continues to recover and rebuild, and with the aim of securing business from high value tourism markets.

The Certified Incentive Specialist qualification from SITE is the first stage of a programme of activity designed to further develop the incentive tourism industry in Northern Ireland, provide networking and destination awareness opportunities, as well as equip businesses with the knowledge to deliver motivational travel experiences for future clients.

Participants included Glenshane Country Farm, Titanic Belfast, Larchfield Estate, Hilton Hotel Belfast, Linen Mill Studios, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, National Trust Giant’s Causeway, Taste & Tour, Clayton Hotel Belfast, Visit Derry, Hastings Hotels, Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast and Killeavey Castle.

The partnership agreement between Tourism NI and SITE Ireland first launched in 2020 and has been extended to 2022 due to demand.

Eimear Callaghan, Business Solutions Manager at Tourism NI commented:

“We are pleased to announce the continuation of our valued partnership with SITE Ireland. This is a very challenging time for the tourism industry and our relationship with SITE offers opportunities on a global platform to promote Northern Ireland as a world class Incentive Travel destination to international clients looking for new programmes from the island of Ireland. Incentive Travel is focused on amazing experiences and through Northern Ireland Embrace a Giant Spirit, we have a range of immersive experiences well suited to this market.”

She added: “At Tourism NI, we continue to work with a range of key strategic stakeholders to position Northern Ireland as a destination of choice for MICE (Meetings, Incentive, Conferences and Exhibitions). This business is lucrative, with the average MICE delegate worth on average three times that of the leisure visitor.

“I congratulate the 15 industry representatives who successfully completed their CIS certification, and we look forward to delivering further opportunities for our industry together with SITE Ireland.”

Front (l to r): Michael Dalton, SITE Ireland Chapter, Charlene Lourens-Griffiths, Visit Derry, Joanne Taylor, Tourism NI and Caitriona Lavery, Hastings Hotels. Middle (l to r): Caroline Wilson, Taste & Tour, Naomi Wilson, Clayton Hotel Belfast, Hannah Watson, Larchfield Estate, Ashleigh Hamilton, Killeavey Castle, Kim Smart, Hillsborough Castle and Stephanie Sheerin, Fitzwilliam Hotel. Back (l to r): Jamese McCloy, Glenshane Country Farm, Terry Kelly, Killeavey Castle, Judy Hutton, Linen Mill Studios, Jennifer Michael, National Trust Giant’s Causeway, Jonathan Campbell, Titanic Belfast and Kellie-Anne Small, Hilton Hotel Belfast.

Michael Dalton, Immediate Past President, SITE Ireland, added:

“SITE Ireland is extremely grateful for the commitment of Tourism Northern Ireland to the professional development of the industry in the Incentive Sector. The Incentive Travel Industry is very niche and can be hard to grasp. The Certified Incentive Specialist Course provides all the knowledge anyone working in this sector should possess.

“It is the most lucrative segment and highest spend of all Business Tourism. Great to now have 30 Certified Incentive Specialists in Northern Ireland. This is sure to provide clients with the confidence of a destination that delivers exceptional incentive experiences, understands the value of incentive travel and is 100% incentive ready.”

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