A family story that began in 1814 with the birth of James MacGeorge in Scotland, came full circle as his descendants visited Newry Museum last week.

The Pocock and Coles families from Ontario, Canada visited the Museum to donate a silver cup that was presented to James’ son Ebenezer Gladstone MacGeorge on his retirement from the Secretaryship of the Belfast Branch of the Scottish Provident Institution in 1909.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Councillor, Charlie Casey who welcomed the visitors to the museum said, “I was extremely interested to hear about the MacGeorge family, particularly about James, father of Ebenezer, whose bust is on display in the Museum. He was a businessman, local politician and philanthropist and contributed greatly to the civic life of Newry.”

Presentation of the silver cup to Newry and Mourne Museum.  L-R: In front of bust of James MacGeorge: Sue Coles, Sheila Pocock, Kate Pocock, Councillor Charlie Casey and Noreen Cunningham, Museum Curator.
Presenting the silver cup to Newry and Mourne Museum. Pictured In front of bust of James MacGeorge, from left: Sue Coles, Sheila Pocock, Kate Pocock, Councillor Charlie Casey and Noreen Cunningham, Museum Curator.

The family had described how James, born in Drumfrieshire, Scotland, had settled in Newry by the age of 24 when he is recorded as owning the ‘Newry Mart’, a haberdashery shop in North Street.

James became a Police Commissioner for Newry and later became a Town Commissioner, a position which he held until his death in 1870. He was also involved in the Newry and Warrenpoint Gas Companies, in the establishment of the Newry and Warrenpoint Railway and the Newry and Enniskillen Railway as well as the linen industry, with a scotch mill at his farm at Carnmeen, near Newry.

James MacGeorge was known for his charitable work, particularly in relation to education and the promotion of literacy. He established the Young Men’s Improvement Society in Newry for young working men and became President of this organisation, which had over one hundred members. Linked to this venture was the development of a library in the town which was largely set up with MacGeorge’s own money.

Noreen Cunningham, Museum Curator said, “After several months of correspondence, I was delighted to finally meet Sheila, Kate and Sue and receive their important donation to the Museum. While we know quite a lot about James MacGeorge, we were keen to find out more about his children, including Ebenezer. I was also fascinated to hear about his daughter Mary who graduated as a doctor from the London School of Medicine in 1884, and worked as a doctor and missionary in India.”

While in Newry, the family also visited the St Patrick’s Church of Ireland graveyard in Newry where the MacGeorge family (including James and Ebenezer are buried), the Town Hall and Newry Cathedral.

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