Henry Joy McCracken was – like most of his family – a textiles manufacturer by profession. He ought to have succeeded, specialising in cotton, but his radical political outlook led to his neglect of his business, and Joy, Holmes & McCracken went to the wall.
Henry Joy McCracken was, at least by modern standards, a very unlikely rebel. From a well-to-do family, the young Henry Joy branched out (his father was a ship owner and rope maker) into the most lucrative trade of the time, cotton manufacture.
I was first introduced to Henry Joy McCracken by Newryman Brian McCollum and his Folk Group in the middle to late 60s when his single lauding that character topped the Irish charts. Now that I think of it, I believe we had a copy at home.
Bagenal’s Castle, having loomed large in the history of Ulster during the 16th century Elizabethan wars, again featured in the 17th century and for all the wrong reasons. The area near the castle was the scene of a massacre of the Irish in the aftermath of the great rebellion of 1641.
Contrary to frequently expressed sentiment, Newry Canal was not the first in these Islands, but the first summit-level canal; the first, that is, to be fed from a lake at higher level, in our case Acton Lake, some half-way along its length.
Fynes Moryson, secretary to Lord Mountjoy who savagely laid waste to the country of Ireland at the turn of the seventeenth century to defeat the ‘rebels’, was described as a ‘bookish man’ and was a learned fellow of Oxford – as was his master.
Even fellow military men recoiled in horror at the unprovoked massacre at Ballyholland in 1797. Some felt it contributed to the popularity of the United men in an area that had till then been peaceable and uninvolved.