Monday, 8 August 2016

Martha Craig (1866-1950) - a Sesquicentennial Commemoration

Updated November 27, 2017

Martha Craig was born on this day in 1866. I first noted her name as a reputed neighbour of the McKinley family of Conagher, between Ballymoney and Dervock. I decided to go in search of Martha last year but found her not in north Antrim but in south-east  Antrim, on the high ground between Larne and Carrickfergus and close by the village of Gleno.

Martha, the astronomer

She was born in Carneal, in the parish of Raloo, the daughter of William Craig and Mary Nelson. Mary was a close relation of teenager Willie Nelson who was hanged in 1798 during the course of the United Irish rebellion. Stories about events surrounding the rebellion appear to have had a profound influence on young Martha. She was a remarkable woman yet her remarkable exploits have almost completely disappeared from the public mind. What follows is a brief glimpse into an extraordinary life:

Martha, member of the Henry Joy McCracken Literary Society

[Ottawa Journal 06 June 1898]

[New York World 06 March 1898]

[Lowell Sun 09 July 1904]

Martha on the trail of Hiawatha



[Boston Sunday Globe 06 August 1905]

Martha, the inventor

 Martha, first woman to lecture at University of Salamanca


Martha, the poet




Martha's final resting place
St Columba's graveyard in Gleno

Canada's Early Women Writers
[added 15 August 2016]

Added November 27, 2017

Martha's sister Mary Anne married Robert John McDowell in 1878 and their daughter Margaret Craig McDowell married Thomas Gregg in 1909, parents of Professor Robert John Gregg, sometime Honorary President of the Ulster-Scots Language Society.