Belfast Telegraph

Derelict building where rebel McCracken was held before his execution to be turned into pub

By Margaret Canning

A historic Belfast building which was the last holding place of Henry Joy McCracken before he was hanged is being revived as part of a £1m pub redevelopment.

The derelict premises next to McCracken's pub in Joy's Entry is being revamped and renamed 'Henry's' and 'The Jailhouse' by owners and publicans Mark Beirne and Jim Conlon.

Their project will bring 40 new jobs and is the latest in a series of pub ventures in which disused buildings have been turned into licensed premises in the city centre.

McCracken's has been a licensed premises since 1892 and the redevelopment will incorporate both the bar and the building next door where McCracken - one of the United Irishmen - was held for two days before his execution in 1798.

The Presbyterian merchant was hanged in Cornmarket for his role as leader of the insurgents at the Battle of Antrim on June 7, 1798.

McCracken's will close on Sunday and reopen in June when the renovations are finished.

Mr Beirne previously led the revamp of a historic building in the Cathedral Quarter which was turned into the Potthouse in 2005.

Merchant Hotel owner Bill Wolsey also turned an old building in the Cathedral Quarter, which had been the city's oldest intact timber-framed building, into the Dirty Onion pub.

And hotelier Lawrence Kenwright from Liverpool has unveiled ambitious plans to transform disused buildings including Crumlin Road Courthouse, the Scottish Mutual Building and the War Memorial Building on Waring Street into hotels.

Mr Beirne said: "Having been involved in the redevelopment and transformation of a number of venues in Belfast over the last 20 years, this project is without doubt the most exciting."

And Mr Conlon said the restoration would be sympathetic and would retain the building's original features.

Henry's will include traditional snugs and cast-iron columns while the Jailhouse will maintain the original brick walls, beams and windows on every floor.

"As a long-established and respected bar, we are looking forward to redeveloping McCracken's along with the connecting Jailhouse to add an exciting new dimension to the social scene in the heart of Belfast which links the burgeoning and bustling life of the 17th century with a thriving city centre of the 21st."

Mr Beirne has also been linked with other pub venues around Belfast, including The Albany on Lisburn Road and House in Stranmillis.

Belfast Telegraph

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