The book Sir Crawford McCullagh, Belfast’s Dick Whittington, is a biography of The Rt Hon Sir Crawford McCullagh, 1st Baronet (1868-1948) who was a draper, unionist councillor on Belfast City Council and held the position of Lord Mayor for a record 17 times.[1]

McCullagh came from humble origins. He grew up in County Armagh, the fifth of six children of tenant farmer Robert McCullagh.[2] His father had wanted Crawford to be a Presbyterian minister but Crawford, aged 14, defied his father and took up an apprenticeship with drapers Roberston, Ledlie and Ferguson in the Bank Buildings in Belfast.[3][4]

He went on to open his own shop in Belfast in 1894[5] and brought  Castle Buildings, Castle Lane, in 1905. He rebuilt Castle Buildings into one of the finest architectural examples of Art Noveau in Belfast that still exist to this day.[6]

In the same year, Crawford entered public service as a councillor in the Belfast Corporation and as a representative being elected as Lord Mayor from 1914-7, 1931-1942 and 1943-1946.[7] Throughout his life, he was a staunch unionist, presbyterian and conservative. His first wife and child both died and he was married a second time.[8] McCullagh was knighted in May 1915 and created a baronet in 1935.

The book was written by his great-granddaughter, whose mother Daisy was Crawford’s daughter. She believed that Crawford should be remembered as he had a major impact on Belfast and shaped the city as did men like Charles Lanyon but also that he was integral to the city that exists today.[9]

Sir Crawford McCullagh, long-serving Lord Mayor of Belfast.The picture obtained from his biographer Susan B Cunningham. He was former Lord Mayor of Belfast. It is thought to have been taken in around 1910 or so. Origin: 

This biography does not claim to be an academic work or analytical work of his politics but a profile of life and family.[10] It is a remarkable story of a man who grew up in relative poverty in the countryside to become a millionaire and leading civic worthy in Belfast. He defied many of the social conventions at the time he had risen to his mighty heights through ‘trade’ and not having a public school education. The academic pedant within me would have appreciated more footnotes and a map but this biography is aimed at the general reader and is an excellent introduction to Belfast and its times during the late Victorian era and the first half of the last century.


[1] Accessed 17.3.21.

[2] Susan B. Cunningham, Sir Crawford McCullagh, Belfast’s Dick Whittington (Donaghadee, NI: Ballyhay, 2016), p.2.

[3] Ibid., p.8.

[4] Ibid., p.6.

[5] Ibid., p.34.

[6] Ibid., p.53.

[7] Accessed 17.3.21.

[8] Cunnigham, pp.24-27, 39.

[9] Susan B. Cunningham interview, Belfast Newsletter, 8th May 2017,

[10] Cunningham, p.iv.