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Mary Ann McCracken and Winifred Carney statues unveiled on International Women’s Day

Date: 08 Mar 2024

Category: Culture and arts

Mary Ann McCracken (Carol Moore from Kabosh Theatre Company) pictured with Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy following a ceremony to unveil statues of Mary Ann McCracken and Winifred Carney at Belfast

Striking bronze statues of Mary Ann McCracken and Winifred Carney have been unveiled at a ceremony at Belfast City Hall to coincide with International Women’s Day 2024.

The statues are located on the front lawn area of City Hall either side of the statue which celebrates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Mary Ann McCracken was an abolitionist, educator, social reformer and businesswoman who fought for the rights of many, while Winifred Carney was a suffragist, committed trade unionist and political activist.

The design of the two statues reflects the values and activities for which they are best known.

Mary Ann is depicted handing out abolitionist leaflets while wearing a Wedgewood anti-slavery badge and Winifred’s sculpture reflects her roles as a trade unionist, adjutant in the Irish Citizen Army and as James Connolly's personal secretary and political confidante.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “As these are two of the most notable and influential women in Belfast’s history, it is important that they receive this formal recognition by the council on behalf of the city.

“Following the opening of the City Hall Visitor Experience in 2017, the installation of these statues marks another important step in the council implementing the recommendations of a 2012 report which focused on ensuring we created a ‘good and harmonious environment’ through our displays at City Hall and its grounds.

“These statues celebrate female achievement, inclusivity and the diversity of the people who have helped shape our city. They will therefore help to educate locals and visitors about our city’s history, and I have no doubt that they will help attract more visitors to City Hall and the city for decades to come.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to come view the statues for themselves and find out more about the importance and influence of Mary Ann and Winifred.”

The statues were sculpted by internationally acclaimed artist Ralf Sander along with his daughter Naomi Sander.

Commenting on the project, Naomi Sander said: “It was an honour for Studio Sander & Sander to be selected to create sculptures of these two influential women, especially given the prominent setting in City Hall where they will be viewed by huge numbers of visitors for decades to come.

Ralf Sander said: ““I led on the sculpture of Winifred, while Naomi was the lead artist on Mary Ann. Creating life-size bronze figurative sculptures is a complex and time-consuming process, but this has been a very rewarding project to deliver. I think that we have captured the essence of both women in the final pieces, so I hope that they will be seen as positive additions to the grounds of City Hall by the public.”

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