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Historic Belfast building to be redeveloped

Co-owners of Henry’s & the Jailhouse Mark Beirne and Jim Conlon pictured with Zoe Watson, Operations Manager in the building Henry Joy McCracken was held before his execution

An historic Belfast building which was the last holding place of Henry Joy McCracken before he was hanged in Cornmarket in 1798, is being revived as part of a £1m redevelopment.

The building which adjoins McCracken’s Bar in Joy’s Entry off High Street has been derelict for many years.  Joy’s entry and its surrounding alleyways represent some of the oldest remaining parts of Belfast and they were the scene of a thriving residential and commercial community in the 17th Century.

McCracken’s has been a licenced premise since 1892 and the redevelopment will incorporate both the bar and the adjacent building were Henry Joy McCracken was held for two days before his execution.

The redevelopment, which is creating 40 new jobs, will maintain the integrity of the site and will reflect its rich history and unique story, with ‘Henry’s’ replacing the existing bar and its adjoining building becoming the ‘Jailhouse’.

The project is being developed by Belfast entrepreneurs and publicans Mark Beirne and Jim Conlon. Commenting Mark 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.  Located off High Street, a short walk from the Cathedral Quarter with its quaint entry and historic and striking buildings we see a unique opportunity to breathe new life into one of our City’s most memorable landmarks.”

Jim Conlon added, “It is incumbent upon us to do justice to the heritage of this venue and we are committed to maintaining the original architectural features while incorporating the vibrancy of 21st century Belfast. ‘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.

McCracken’s bar will close on Sunday 15th April and reopen in June.

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