Plaque is planned for Gleno explorer after pandemic passes

Plans to commemorate a remarkable woman from the Gleno Valley who was an explorer, scientist and academic are among those which have had to be put on hold due to the current pandemic.

The Ulster History Circle propose to mark the life of Carneal woman Martha Craig, who was born in 1867 and was the first woman explorer in Labrador in Canada in the early 1900s.

During a remarkable life, she was also a lecturer in North America and once visited US President Andrew McKinley in the White House to present him with a photograph of his ancestral home near Dervock in North Antrim.

Last week the Carrick Times reported how east Antrim’s links to the White House were being celebrated with imagery on two lambeg drums paying homage to the first Ulster Scot President, Andrew Jackson.

Gleno. Pic by Google.

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Educated at the Sorbonne in Paris, Martha Craig was the first woman to deliver a lecture in the famous University of Salamanca in Spain and during the First World War she served as a Red Cross nurse.

The Ulster History Circle plans to commemorate her were at an advanced stage last year, with a site for a plaque in Gleno village agreed and plans for an unveiling progressing.

But as the Covid pandemic worsened the plans were postponed in 2020 and it is not clear when the official siting of the plaque will take place.

Martha Craig. Pic by Boston Post, 1898.

The plan is one of a number for historical figures which have had to be put on hold.

But when the event does take place, it will help to highlight someone who was undoubtedly one of the outstanding figures from the locality.

Martha was one of the children of William Craig and Mary Nelson of Carneal and showed early indications of having an enquiring mind – which would lead her to focus on science and exploration when she became older.

She was one of those who argued, along with Einstein, that the earth was at the centre of a vortex, contradicting Newton’s Law of Gravity.

This led to her travelling to Labrador to see the atmospheric phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, which she believed proved her theory.

Interesting, NASA has concluded in recent years that Einstein – and Martha Craig too – were right.

The local woman was also made a Native American Princess, an honour bestowed by one of the tribes which she studied and lived among for a period.

She died in 1950 and is buried in the family plot at St Columba’s Church in the village of Gleno, but there is nothing on the gravestone to signify such a distinguished and varied career.

The Ulster History Circle, which has done much to preserve the history of individuals in communities across the historic province of Ulster through their famous blue plaques plan to redress that once things return to normal following the current pandemic.


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