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St. Mary’s Chapel – Eaglais Naomh Mhuire

Francis Street
April 13, 2020
Parish Church Of St George
April 13, 2020
Francis Street
April 13, 2020
Parish Church Of St George
April 13, 2020

St Mary’s chapel, the first Catholic church to be established in the predominant Presbyterian town of Belfast. Interestingly, the McCracken’s/Joy’s played a role in its establishment and grand opening. Henry joy and Mary Ann’s uncles, especially Robert Joy were heavily involved with the Belfast Volunteers, a local militia originally set up in the fear of French invasion. Among its first member were Henry Joy and Mary Ann’s father, Captain McCracken and their brother Francis ‘Frank’ McCracken, only sixteen at the time. The Volunteers took a real anti-sectarian approach which was in contrast to other volunteer militias in Ulster. The Belfast Volunteers subscribed £84 for the local Catholic congregation and paraded in full uniform for the grand opening of the church in May 1784. The action of the Volunteers that day highlights the influence the McCracken/Joy family had on local politics of the time, showcasing Belfast as the anti-sectarian centre of Ireland at the time.