The life of Mary Ann McCracken, sister of 1798 leader Henry Joy McCracken, is celebrated through music and theatre.

Born into a mercantile Presbyterian family in 1770 in Belfast, Mary Ann McCracken was a woman ahead of her time.  An educated and able woman, she ran businesses, campaigned for the abolition of slavery and boy chimney sweeps, believed that women should be equal to men, and was involved in the running of the Poor House, among many other things.  

She also supported her brother Henry Joy McCracken, a founder member of the United Irishmen, in his work, wrote frequently to him while he was in prison, and accompanied him to the gallows.  

‘Mary Ann’ is written by Belfast based folk singer and songwriter Jane Cassidy and her husband, Maurice Leyden.  During her research, Jane discovered that she herself lived quite near to the site of the Belfast Poor House, where Mary Ann had spent so much time, 

I felt her like a benevolent presence, she was like an acquaintance then...so writing songs was easy enough, because I wanted to express what she must have felt for Thomas Russell, and you know, about other things.

'Mary Ann' is at the Hawk's Well Theatre in Sligo and Jane Cassidy would like to take the production to other venues in Ireland. 

This report for ‘Morning Ireland’ was broadcast on 5 August 1987. The reporter is Tommie Gorman. 

'Morning Ireland' is RTÉ's breakfast news programme broadcast each weekday morning between 7am and 9am on RTÉ Radio 1. The programme was first broadcast in 1984. The programme is co-presented and over the years presenters have included David Hanly, Joe Little, Áine Lawlor, Cathal Mac Coille, Rachael English and Gavin Jennings.