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Rushlight The Belfast Magazine, Belfast's oldest existing Historical Publication. Preserving local history and heritage, warts an all, free of the constraints of Grants, Funding or advertising revenue. "If it is worth telling it is worth telling in its entirity"







By Joe Graham




  Belfast History  From Joe Graham

 The Belfast History Man


From.  “Myths, Legends And Facts On Olde Belfast”. 1998


By Joe Graham.


1178 The old Fort of Belfast destroyed by John de Courcy. Grant of the entire province of Ulster given to him by Henry, the Second. Belfast Archives

1315 Edward Bruce invades.. Belfast described as, “a good town and stronghold”

1612 Lord Deputy Chichester granted the territory including the Castle (earlier ones having been burned down during risings) of Belfast by Elizabeth the First. Belfast locally referred to as “The Village”.

1613 Charter granted to Belfast, to a Sovereign and twelve Burgesses. Chichester, a former Pirate, was created a Baron, the barony permitted to send two members to Parliament.

1620 Records exist of chapels and mass being held at Callenders Fort,(todays Glen Road) and at Friars Bush(Stranmillis), in the vicinty of Belfast. Chichester builds his first Belfast Castle.

1637 Belfast purchases, from Carrickfergus Corporation, the right of importing commodities, at one third the duties payable at other places. The Earl of Stafford sets up Belfast Harbour, in a creek in the River Lagan.

1640 Saltwater Bridge(Later Boyne Bridge) in use to Carr’s Row (Sandy Row).

1642 Town has a large influx of Scottish Settlers. Rampart and ditch built around the town.

1644 Belfast surrenders to General Munro

1649 Massive battle takes place between Round Heads (Cromwell’s Army) led by General Venerables and Royalist’s at the “North Wall” (where Academy Street would be today) many were killed and for many years after it right ito the 1800’s people spoke of passing through the area at night and hearing the screams of wounded and dying men, musket bangs , sounds of galloping horses, sabres clashing 1649 Massive battle takes place between Round Heads (Cromwell’s Army) led by General Venerables and Royalist’s at the “North Wall” (where Academy Street would be today) many were killed and for many years after it right ito the 1800’s people spoke of passing through the area at night and hearing the screams of wounded and dying men, musket bangs , sounds of galloping horses, sabres clashing,,, as if the whole battle was being fought again, yet no one ever actually seen a ghost. This “time slip” ghostly phenomena is not so rare.

1660 “Belfast consists of five streets and five lanes, totalling 150 houses.”

1688 Sacheverell writes, "Belfast now the second town in Ireland, well built, full of people and of great trade." researched for you by Rushlight The Belfast Archives.

1689 Three soldiers shot by court martial order having been found guilty of murdering two ships Masters at Corn Market, they had been drunk.

1690. June, Belfast is bedecked for the arrival of King William of Orange, who is probably the most famous gay person ever to visit Ireland, the Dutchman arrived to do battle with another oul foreign King, an Englishman, by the name of James somebody or other. William is said to have a hump on his back, in the 1950's if someone was a bit short of money they would say, "I wish I had King Billy's hump full of 3d Bits".

1691 Naoise O'Haughan the Raparee born.

" 'Tis of a famous Highwayman a story I will tell,

His name was Naoise O'Haughan, in Ireland he did dwell.

And on the Antrim Mountains he commenced his wild career,

Where many a wealthy gentleman before him shook with fear"

1704 Popish Clergy Act passed. Presbyterians are included alongside Catholics to be discriminated under the "Penal Laws".

1707 Fr. Phelomy O’Hamill described as “the Popish Priest of Belfast and Derryaghy and Drum”, arrested under An Drocht Shaol (The Penal Laws) , having been conned by George Macartney, Town Sovereign, to come in and discuss the new laws. he was lodged in the Old Belfast prison. Fr. O'Hamill died there in that prison, despite protestations many from protestant citizens, for his release, he was later buried at Lambeg Cemetery with his relations.

1708, George Macartney, Sovereign of Belfast, wrote, “We have not amongst us within the town above seven Papists, and by the return made by the High Constable there is not above 150 Papists in the whole Barony”, even the dumbest can see by this statement what lay ahead for Catholic people in Belfast through the next generations , they were to be second class citizens in their own country, a pattern was being moulded. Belfast Castle, home of Chichester destroyed by fire.

1709 worse floods in history swept away Shaw’s Bridge at River Lagan.

1720 it was recorded that every house in Bridge Street is thatched.

1729 An Act Of Parliament appoints a Corporation for the conservancy of Belfast Harbour. Much dredging and improvement work done.

1732. Belfast peopled by 4,532 Protestant and 340 Catholic families

1737 “ Belfast Newsletter” , the oldest English print newspaper in the world is founded. Military Barracks built in Mill Street.

1745. The Mass House is forced to close at Castle Street, (was just opposite Fountain Lane) following a denouncement from government declaring the house, “ An assembly place for Papists

1752, “Belfast is a considerable town of trade, especially in the linen trade, in which they are all concerned. The town of Belfast consists of one long, broad street, and of several lanes in which the working people live.”

1753, The first private Belfast lottery is held to build the Poor House. This also was the year of “The Hatchet Field Murders”*, on 13th February at his home near where we today call “The Hatchet Field” on the Black Mountain… *A cattle drover, William Cole, his daughter and a woman visitor to the house were all found brutally murdered, apparently they had been slain with an axe, or hatchet, as we say locally. Who ever carried out the brutal murders never stole any valuables and on their way out set fire to the house. No one was ever brought to task for the murders and locals put it down to a jealousy crime, or scorned love. The newspapers made no reference whatsoever to Cole’s wife, and so it has remained a mystery from that day, so much so that it spawned a local expression, if a thing perplexed some one they’d retort, “It’s as secret as Cole’s Murder”, as for how the Field took on the shape of a Hatchet. that too is a mystery!

1756 serious riots breaks out in town due to “scarcity and distress“.

1757 First census taken, 1,779 houses, 8,549 inhabitants, 399 linen looms. 7993 Protestants, 556 Catholics. but, It is noticed that “there are colony‘s of Papists just outside the ramparts at Mill Gate (Millfield) and on Shore Road”, (York Street today).

1760 Mass is being celebrated at the Castle Street home of John Kennedy, a cutler and at the sand pit at Friars Bush. French Admiral Thurot sacks Carrickfergus .The wealthy John McNaghten executed, by hanging, for the shooting of Mary Anne Knox of Prehen

“Bigger’s Entry”, ran west from Crown Entry, evidence show the Biggar family lived here from the ‘mid1600’s, and had a shop in High Street.

Cuddy’s Row was an old New Lodge Road Street

Donaldson’s Court was off Barrack Street.

Royal Avenue was once called Hercules Street after Hercules Langford., Hercules Street was first called Herison’s Lean.

Squeeze Gut Entry was a lane between Bank Lane and Castle Street

Royal Avenue, Belfast, (top end) was once called John Street.

Fountain Lane, Belfast , was called Water Lane, once the site of natural springs .

Castle Street ,Belfast,(upper part) was once called Mill Street.

Corn Market Belfast was once called The Shambles.

Sandy Row Belfast was originally called “Carr’s Row“.

Neeson’s Court , changed it’s name to Burns Court it was a little Entry running from King Street to Hamill Street.

Marquis Street was formerly called Ferguson’s Lane.

Antrim Road, Belfast, (lower part) was once called Duncairn Street.

Library Street, was originally known as “Casper Curry’s Meadow” and was the site for “Pepper Hill Steps”.

North Street. Belfast, was once called Goose Lane,

Victoria Street (lower end) was Cow Lane, along which cattle were drove to Points Fields at the end of Corporation Street, the drovers were known as “Cow Wallopers” The famous Belfast Hardman, Silver McKee” was a Cow Wallopher.

Gresham Street, Old Belfast, was originally Hudson’s Entry .. and Lane

Kent Street ,Belfast, was originally called Margaret Street and houses there rented for two shillings a week, also the first “Ragged School” opened there.

Chapel Lane (Old Belfast) was earlier called Crooked lane.

Bank Lane, in Old Belfast, was once known as “Back Of The Water”, later “Brics lane”, it was here the infamous Waddell Cunningham who, with others, tried to introduce the Slave trade to Belfast lived.


1765 The Belfast Library formed

1769 .Crawford obtained a lease (31 years) on behalf of Fr. O’Donnell as Mass House for Catholics, this was an old building close to Crooked Lane and Marquis Street.


1770..Farset River at High Street is covered over.

1771, “Hearts Of Steel” attack Belfast Military Barracks to gain release of prisoner.*(*Among the issues here were the demand from government for Presbyterians to pay Tithe Money, ie for the building of Anglican Churches, yet, Presbyterians were prohibited from building churches of their own, their marriages were not recognised by the authorities and thus their children illegitimate.!. plus land lease rents were ridiculously increased.)

1774, Old church in High Street taken down St Anne’s started , Poor House opened.) Ballymacarrat is described as “having only two the mill and Mountpottiger “. The area consisted mostly of grazing land.

1777 Belfast has not seen rain for 200 days.

1779 John Howard (Prison Reformist) visits French prisoners at Belfast Military Barracks.

1782 Population of Belfast now 8,000

1783 St, Mary’s Chapel erected in Chapel Lane, cost £1,200 .“Belfast Mercury” Issued. White Linen hall erected. Fr, Hugh O'Donnell, P.P takes up lodgings in Hercules lane.

Garfield Street,(Old Belfast), was originally Bell’s Lane (named after the brewery)

Whiterock Road, , was formerly known as Sinclaires Loanan. (lane)

Ardoyne Road once housed “Ardoyne Village”, the road was “Lane” then.

Exchange Street was originally called Green Street ( after Robert Green)

Robert Street in old Half Bap was changed to Exchange Street West.

(A brutal murder took place at 38 Robert Street in 1888 , Arthur McKeown murdered his common - law wife.)

Manor Street, Belfast, was originally Cabul Street . (Kabul?)

Howard Street was originally Henrietta Street

“Ardoyne” area, from the Gaelic, built on ancient Ardoyne townland.

Raphael Street was in the old Market area, it is said a strange ghostly events happened here, debris would blow violently about the street yet it could be on the calmest day, no hint of a wind.

1784, Long bridge built over Lagan, Population now 16,000.

Ballysillan, from the gaelic, built on the ancient Ballysillan town land.

Malone. from the Gaelic , plain of the lambs.

1786 This year 772 Vessels have used the Port Of Belfast, with 34,267 Tonnage.

1787 “Bank Of The Four John’s” opened,John Hamilton, John Ewing, John Holmes, John Brown, so Belfast had its J.R, Ewing long before Dallas?

And John Hamilton, (on site of today’s Bank Buildings, Castle Junction).

Grosvenor Road Belfast,was once known as Grosvenor Street.

Durham Street was formerly called Malone Road.

Spamount Street New Lodge Belfast was named after a house that sat on the Old Carrick Road ( which later became known as North Queen street).

Farrington Gardens was originally called Ardglen Gardens.

Holmdene Gardens was firstly called Glenard Drive.

Estoril Park formerly called Glenard Parade.

Northwick Drive was first called Ardglen Drive.

Highbury Gardens was formerly Glenard Gardens.

Clonard Gardens was originally Clonard Street.

Etna Drive (Ardoyne Belfast) was Ardglen Crescent

Stratford Gardens Ardoyne Belfast was originally Ardglen Park

Ladbrook Drive Ardoyne Belfast was earlier called Glenard Gardens.

Strathroy Park. Ardoyne Belfast. was first called Glenard Parade.

Velsheda Park was originally Ardglen Park. Fort Street (Springfield Avenue ) was originally Fortune Street and in recent years nicknamed “Sooty Street”. the street was infamous in earlier years as being prone to flooding. Berwick Road (Ardoyne) was earlier Ardglen Parade.

Seaforde Street was originally called Chapel Lane

Dunedin Park was earlier called Glenard Drive.

Brompton Park ,part of, called Glenard Park, other , Ardoyne Avenue

Winetavern Street was known as Pipe Lane, Clay Pipe manufacturing.

Other streets long gone by Winetavern Street were Winetavern Street Place, Duffin’s Court, Laws Entry and more recently Samuel Street.

“Gooseberry Corner” was in Ballymacarret.

1788, Belfast Reading Society formed, now known as Linenhall Library., “Ballymacarrat Village consists of long rows of white washed cottages stretching from Queens Bridge to Connswater,”

1789, Nearly 300 houses built in Belfast this year, Mustard manufacturing started.

Springfield Avenue was once Elliott’s Row, was earlier called Goats Row.

Donegall Road once known as Blackstaff Lane, and later Blackstaff Road.

Louisa Street (Oldpark) was formerly called Brooklyn Street.

Dee Street,Belfast, was formerly Club Row Lane.

Dunbar Street,Belfast, originally called Grattan Street.

Carrick Hill and North Queen street was known as the Carrickfergus Road, was the main coach road.

1791. Society Of United Irishmen founded by Samuel Neilson, Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken and Thomas Russell. Belfast now has 2,209 houses occupied by 18,320 people. Ritchie establishes first shipyard in Belfast. Tone in his dairy describes Ballymurphy as “A most romantic and beautiful country”, he had visited with Sinclaire.

Caddell’s Entry, Belfast, shown on 1791Belfast map as running between Castle Place and Rosemary Street Belfast

Legg’s Lane tore down to make way for Lombard Street.

Bullers Field for long well known as a grazing area, was built up on to make houses for what became the Half Bap and “Little Italy” , built up areas.

A 1791 Belfast map shows houses there called Bullers Row.. Buller was local land and farm owner. Wolfe Tone describes Belfast as, "My new adopted Mother"

1792. First number of “The Northern Star” issued on 4th January. Famous Harpists Meeting takes place in Belfast. Petition for Catholic emancipation signed by leading citizens. Royal Hospital founded, first foundry established. Local bye law warns that no Carter is to travel on a Sunday, under pain of a fine of twenty shillings and two days in the stocks . Belfast General Dispensary Founded, from which evolved Belfast’s first General hospital.

1795. “The Gaelic Magazine” issued by Miss Brookes. Public Floggings still taking place at “The Triangle” at Bridge Street, and at Millfield/ North Street junction, Castle Junction also being used. Seventy branches of the United Irishmen represented at a meeting in Belfast.Tone McCracken etc reafirm their resolve to free Ireland on McAirts Fort. Dr. William Drennan removes himself from the Society of United Irishmen. Rev. Thomas Ledlie Birch, Saintfield, has articles published in the "Northern Star", one of which declares, " Kings are the butchers and scourges of the human race, revelling in the spoils of thousands whom they have made widows and orphans"

1796. January 5th, the body of a man called Phillips was dragged from the old Dam near Joys Paper mill, there was evidence that others had deliberately drowned him , it turned out he had been an ex-communicated priest who had arrived quite recently in the area having fled from Roscommon from a local Group known as “The Defender’s” against whom, it is said, he had been a paid informer. It seems even back then there was some sort of telegraph line. For years after the incident many spoke of seeing Phillips ghost by the Mill Dam. Also in the Market area a ghost is said to have appeared by the old Mill.

March 24: Act (36 George III, c.2) removes tax on beer and increases tax on malt. (Stimulates Irish brewing industry.)

Insurrection Act (36 George III, c.20) provides death penalty for administrating illegal oath (The didn‘t wait long to enforce, ie William Orr?), and imposes curfew and arms searches on districts proclaimed by government as disturbed. Act gives magistrates power "of seizing, imprisoning and sending on board the fleet without trial anyone found at unlawful assemblies or acting so as to threaten the public tranquillity". ("The sectarian intent of these measures is disclosed by the disposition of an Armagh magistrate, Nathaniel Alexander: in the aftermath of Orange attacks on Catholic homes in late 1796, this magistrate reported that the Catholics were the aggressors having burned their own homes because of arrears in rent." (Sound familiar huh ??? Like the Catholic who was found with 20 stab wounds, coroner said it was the worse case of suicide he‘d even came across)

April 20: First stone of new buildings of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, laid by Camden Lord Lieutenant.

July 12: Orange parades in Lurgan, Waringstown, and Portadown.

August 3rd. Two more bodies found drowned in waters at Belfast, one was of a soldier, they were believed to be informers. (In later years Jemmy Hope said that these murders and others were not carried out by the “United Irishmen”,

August: Arthur O’Connor and General Lazare Hoche meet clandestinely in France and discuss possible United Irish support for intended French invasion of Ireland.

September 12: Thomas Russell’s A letter to the people of Ireland on the present situation of the country, (Belfast). Russell's central theme is the necessity for union among Irishmen of all religious backgrounds. Relief of Catholic grievances was lost not because Protestants were ungenerous but because excessive trust had been placed in "men of the first lordly and landed interests in Ireland who shamefully and meanly deserted the people". When, as in 1793, Catholic demands were insistently pressed, the Whigs entered common cause with the government against the Catholics. "No persons reviled the Rights of Man or the French Revolution, or gabbled more about anarchy, and confusion, and mobs, and United Irishmen, and Defenders, and Volunteers, or coincided more heartily in strengthening the hands of that government which they had opposed, and reviting the chains of the people . . . that the gentlemen of the opposition." The aristocracy were "fungus productions who grow out of a diseased state of society and destroy as well the vigour and the beauty of that which nourishes them". Slavery was the issue of "the greatest consequence on the face of the earth". The slave trade created barbarism and misery; it prevented the spread of civilisation and religion. It was "a system of cruelty, torment, wickedness and infamy . . . the work of wicked demons rather than men". He concluded: "The great object of mankind should be to consider themselves as accountable for their actions to God alone, and to pay no regard or obedience to any men or institution, which is not conformable to his will." The pamphlet was signed "Thomas Russell, an United Irishman".

September 16: Offices of Northern Star raided. Thomas Russell, Samuel Neilson, and several others with French sympathies arrested in Belfast on charges of high treason. Among those arrested: Rowley Osborne and Samuel Kennedy of the Jacobin Club, John Young, Henry Haslet, Daniel Shanahan, Charles Teeling, Samuel Mulgrave and James Bartley. William Orr, later executed, is arrested at his home outside Belfast. (The next issue of the Northern Star describes the raids as "a contemptible invasion of the peace".) On arrest the prisoners are brought to Dublin. Each man is transported in a separate post-chaise. Four troops of cavalry and two King's messengers travel with them.

September 17: Men arrested in Belfast arrive in Dublin. Russell, Musgrave, Young and Shanahan placed in Newgate prison. Neilson, Haslett, Kennedy, Darley and Teeling placed at Kilmainham.

September 18: Prisoners brought before Judge Boyd for committal. Charged with High Treason. Prisoners continue to be held without bail or trial.

Albert Street was Brogan Lane, Brogan Row, Albert Crescent, then Albert Street. The lower end of this street was meadowland and pasture.

October 19th.William McBride, who had just arrived in Belfast from Glasgow fell into the hands of “Moiley”, the name given to the invisible assassins that were drowning and killing people in the Belfast area, whom appeared to be labelled ‘informers’. McBride’s body was found with pistol shot wounds at the top of North Street.. his was perhaps a case of mistaken identity.?

Malcomson Street was built on site of Malcomson’s Mill.

Ballysillan Park was originally known as Buttermilk Loney. (Lane)

Falls Road Belfast, named after the district it led to, and later extraordinarily led from,

Lettuce Hill, was in old “Falls” Area , when redeveloped renamed John Street. Richard Turley, a resident of 12 Lettuce Hill, was fireman on the fateful “Titantic“, and lost his life in that tragedy.

Paradise Row, was in old “Falls” area close to Barracks Street.

“The Falls”, was the area around junction of Millfield and Hamill Street .

Townsend street. named as the then end of urban town.

Glenwood Street, School. Etc derive their names from John Cunningham’s “Glenwood Corn Mill”, Upper Shankill.

Boundary Street, named as end of newly extended town of those days.

Barrack Street, named through proximity to site of military barracks.

Ballymurphy Street originally Mica Street and Sunbeam Street.

Beechview Park (Falls) was formerly Giants Foot Road.

Hamill Street named after the Hamill family who developed that area.

John Street named after John Hamill, family buried at Hannastown .

Dunville Street, Park, etc, named after the Dunville Whiskey family.

Sorrella Street named after the “Sorella Trust“ set up to maintain Dunville Park.

Distillery Street, named through proximity to Dunvilles Whiskey Distillery site.

Leopold Street. (Crumlin Road) at one time was called “Quality Row”

Stanfield Street was formerly known as River street

New Lodge Road built roughly on old site of “Pinkerton Row”

Pinkerton Row named after Pinkerton the local mill owning family.

Cliftonville Road, area originally was to be named as “Cliftonville Garden Village“.

Bridge Street, named as link to bridge over Farset River at High Street .

Skipper Street, sea faring link to this, the earliest “Sailortown”, of Belfast.

Ewart’s Row, named after the mill owner and land lord William Ewart.

Ballymurphy Estate, built part on the ancient “Townland of Murphy”

Nansen Street, Falls Road, named to honour F. Nansen, the Norwegian explorer.

Pound Street, Divis Street, built on site of lane that led to town’s old animal pound.

“TEETOTAL HALL”, was a Smithfield charity establishment in ‘mid 1800’s where homeless men and women could drop in for affordable meals.

Pound Loney.. Old district now gone built near Pound and St Peter’s. A

Little stream that flowed through the area at Durham Street was called , “The Pound Burn” , was covered in in early 1970’s

Belle Steele Road, Poleglass, named after local land owner and renowned liberal, a close friend to the Hamill family and is said to have hidden the vessels of the Mass for her Catholic neighbours so that they could hold secret Mass in the Penal days.

Snugville Street, Shankill, got its name from the site of the home “Snugville” of Edward Walkington, Druggist.

Oman, Sevastopol, Balaclava Streets named after Crimean battles mid 1800’s.

Half Bap . near St. Anne’s Cathedral, named because of the odd mound shaped roundabout , (like top half of a bap) at the end of Talbot Street, poignant as one remembers that it was in this area, Donegall Street, that Barney Hughes invented his famous Belfast Bap. This mound could well be described as Belfast’s first roundabout. Belfast Council, with grants and funding galore are hell bent on having some rewrite history, thereby implying this was "The Cathedral Quarter", it never was, in fact when Lord Carson was buried in the vaults of st Ann'es, slogans appeared on local gable walls, saying, "First you try to bomb us out, now you are trying to stink us out", such was the significance of the Cathedral' in that area.It is heartening to hear many parrot my resistence to that area being called "The Cathedral Quarter", but I suppose if you throw grants and funding at some people they will write anything you want, huh.? a bit like Catholic people celebrating the "Titanic"..?? what are they celebrating .?? that they couldn't get a job in the shipyard, shallow people!. Few will be aware that there was also at one time near the Durham Street Grovernor Road junction another Belfast area also called “The Half Bap”

“Little Italy“, an old district now gone peopled by many Italian emigrants.

“The Hammer” district, an old Shankill area at Agnes Street,, now redeveloped.

“The Nick”, Belfast, an old Shankill area redeveloped mid 1960’s.

“The Fenian Gut”, old district near Gallagher’s factory, now gone.

“The Alley”, very loyalist old York Street district, 20’s troubles, Buck Alec Robinson's domain. Buck Alec, was an infamous loyalist gunman during the 1920's, also a "Special", he is recorded in 'official' documents at having murdered many people, yet never faced a court on a murder charge, in fact was given a commendation by the Governor, for "his good police work". huh??, he was also involved in the 1930's troubles. Buck Alex Robinson also kept greyhounds, and boxed and wrestled at fair ground booths. and I am sure you are tired off hearing 'historians' write of his later escapades, as they protray this ruthless gunman and bomber as some sort of quaint little character. when he walked a toothless lion around Belfast.

“Sailortown” Belfast, dockland area settled around Corporation Street now redeveloped.

Ballymacarrat, old district on east side of River Lagan, once called “Wee Belfast”

Short Strand, the east strand between the Queens and Albert Bridges.

“The Market”, very old district centred around Belfast abattoir and farm markets.

Lancaster street, named after Quaker School/ educational system founded there.

“Iveagh,” area built at old Broadway Village, named after the Iveagh Trust.

Iveagh Crescent, Falls Road, was originally called Celtic Parade.

Beechmount, Falls Road Belfast, named from Beechmount, local mansion set in hilled wooded area, once the home of a Bishop and latterly the home of Samuel Riddle, a jeweller, it is said it is written into the deeds of the property, that the land should never fall into Papist hands. It later became a convent! , if it was Riddles who had that written in I’m not sure, but it is a fact that when he donated money to a children’s hospital he requested that no papist should benefit from it. The writing into a deed that no papist should acquire the property was not solely restricted to mansions, a house at 16 Elswick Street that I bought in 1970 had that clause in the deed. But expediency prevailed as protestants were moving from the area and Catholics were moving in, part of the sad further polarization our wee town was suffering at that time.

Hector Street (Half Bap) originally called Caxton Street.

“McCances Glen” named from the land owner John McCance.

Suffolk area, West Belfast, built on site of Suffolk House and land, home of the McCance’s family.,John McCance had been Mayor of Belfast.

Smithfield, ancient site of Lamas fair, for centuries a market centre. There was a very interesting Public House in Smithfield at one time , above which hung the sign…

“Ye Gentlemen and Archers good,

Come in and drink with Robin Hood

If Robin Hood be dead and gone,

Come in and drink with Little John“

The pub which was on the east side of the Smithfield Square, (Central Cinema side) was owned by a man named John, this “little John” was about 6 foot 6 inches and built like a brick wall, needless to say his customers were well behaved regardless of how “Merry“ they got.

Smithfield Belfast was also the site for my favourite Ghost story, I say favourite because never will you hear of anyone who had seen the ghost of Biddy Farrelly speak of being frightened, indeed her ghostly appearance brought smiles to the faces of those who seen her. It is said that sometime before her death Biddy was left £250 in the will of a friend who died in Dublin.. And this friend was the High Sheriff of that City, and how you may ask did a wee ‘bag lady’ get to befriend such an important man?. Well it was like this, Luke White was reared in Bell’s Lane, Smithfield and later, about 1850, ran a book stall at nearby Croakens Lane., which ran from Hercules Street (Royal Avenue) to Smithfield and it was during this time he befriended the sweet wee pauper Biddy Farrelly. However soon after wards he moved to Dublin and set up there as an auction business and flourished, moved up in the world and joined the high circles of Dublin society where he met and married the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Later he died and left behind him the huge fortune of £2,000,000 and as I have said he left Biddy £150 , a lot of money in those days.. well…our Biddy loved a wee drink , and now you know how her ghost always had a permanent smile on its face.. Biddy drank herself to death.

“Springhill“, modern area named after an a once nearby ancient “Clachan” , which was close to “Molly‘s Well“ at the top of the Mountain Loney, now called Upper Whiterock Road..

Kane Street (Clonard) was firstly known as Aboo Street.

“Turf Lodge” named after “Turf Lodge Farm” on which land the estate is built.

Cavan Street, old street once sited at side of Clonard Cinema, long gone.

Craig Street, Falls Road, now gone named after a local mill, Craig’s Mill.

A humorous story I must tell you about this little street, back in the 1950’s it housed only one family and the man of the house, a tiny little man loved a drink on a Saturday night. On arriving home, safe in the street, he would throw off his coat and shout, “I will fight any man in the street”, he was the only man in the street, he had a wife and some daughters.

Conway Street named to ’honour’ the planter family and robber baron.

Downfine Estate, named after the ancient town land, “Ballydownfine”.

NewBarnsley, named after a local Clachan sadly burned down in recent troubles.This little row of cottages were at the corner of Springfield park, and in the early years of Ballymurphy, it was also the end of the line for the local bus service, The Terminus". The fields behind the row of cottages were "Brown's Fields", Brown was a local bleaching Green owner and Farmer.His fields in latter years were let to John Gordon for grazing his dairy cattle.

Dermott Hill , merely named so , from a family members name, by the builder of the estate late 1960’s, it is believed that the estate is built upon an ancient cairn.Until recent years a row of cottages bore the name "Cairn" at the top of the Whiterock Road, obviously a link to the old Cairn.

Cavendish Street named after an assassinated British politician, St Paul's Chapel Is at the corner., and also faced onto the wall, some years ago, of "Looney Park", the Belfast Asylum,

Sugarfield Street, Shankill , built on site of “Sugarfield House“, home of Rev of Rev Isaac Nelson, Presbyterian minister at Donegall Street Church, he was an ardent Nationalist, and Nationalist M.P.

Bread Street, (Pound Loney) now gone , named through proximity to Flour mill.

Alexander Street North, named after landlord, flour mill owner John Alexander.

Milford street, named after Alexander’s Co. Carlow birthplace.

Ardmoulin Avenue named after his house “Ardmoulin”, his earliest corn mill would have been where the “Morning Star” hostel stands today in Divis Street of course you know this building was once “Brickfields Police Barracks”, was still a barracks right into the 1920’s troubles.

Glasshouse Street was off Boyd Street.. No one threw stones?

“Mary’s Market” was in Townsend Street, later became known as “The Bullring”

“Torren’s Market” and Torren’s Row were off Hercules Street.

1797. The Belfast Yeomanry formed, Fever Hospital opened with six beds. May16th, Four members of the Monaghan Militia are shot at Blaris on information recieved from Newell the informer, as being members of the United Irishmen.

May 19:1797 Presses of Belfast Northern Star broken up by Monaghan militia. 12th July. 6,000 Orangemen parade through Belfast with approval of Gen. Lake

October 14: William Orr, United Irishman, hanged at Carrickfergus.

1798, Martial Law proclaimed by Gen. Nugent, no one is allowed in or out of Belfast except to market. Volunteers surrender their cannon , Battle of Antrim is led by Henry Joy McCracken, Battle of Ballynahinch By Henry Munro June 13: United Irishmen led by Henry Monro defeated at Ballynahinch, Co Down. Monro executed at Lisburn, 15 June. July 7

Henry Joy McCracken hanged outside Market House, High Street, Belfast .Other Old Belfast executions at that spot included those of John Storey, printer at the Northern star, James Dickey, barrister from Crumlin , Dickey was captured on the Divis Mountain where he hid out after taking a heroic stand at the Battle of Antrim. J. Byers, cattle drover, Saintfield, Hugh Graham, (Grimes), and William McGill . All but McCracken were beheaded and had their heads spiked, and for over a month put on public exhibition at the Market House.As Henry Joy was led to the gallows he witnessed the decaying heads of his comrades on display. He left behind a daughter which he had with Mary Bodle, a peasant girl who lived near Cavehill.

Whitesidetown renamed Andersonstown after the Whiteside family who were dispossessed through their leanings to the principles of United Irishmen. a name Change back to Whiteside- town may be appropriate ?).

Andersonstown Park South was earlier called Andersonstown Place.

Alliance Gardens was firstly called Alliance Place

Church Street was first called School House Lane.

Queen’s Island was once called Dargan’s island.

1799, Belfast, indeed Ireland, suffers the worse winter in living memory, heavy rain then snow that fell continually for seven days followed by a heavy freeze.

1800 . First Belfast public bakery opens near Donegall Street.

Local Bye Law issued warning that “all wandering swine” found on the streets would be taken “for the use and benefit” of the old poor house.

An act was passed in 1800 for paying, lighting, and for keeping a night watch. The streets were to be widened, cleaned and improved. But not more than £1,000 was to be spent in one year.

Gunpowder was to be kept, locked in a separate place, and if it were not so kept a fine of £10 was to be enforced. It was also to be sold only in daylight, or £10 was again the fine. No fires were allowed to be lit, on board ships in docks on any pretext whatsoever, or there was risk of a penalty of £5.

The street lamps were well protected law. The punishment for breaking, extinguishing, or injuring a street lamp was from one to six months imprisonment

For training horses on the streets of Belfast ( ?) the fine was from 5s to 20s, the same as for throwing dust, ashes or rubbish on those streets. Hence, perhaps, the traditional cleanliness of Belfast, constantly remarked by strangers. Second nature.

Two masons in Belfast struck work in 1800. They were sent to jail for three months. Six shoemakers combined in the same year to have their wages raised. They were at once sent to Carrickfergus Jail. the judge remarking: " How could trade go on or trade improve if such actions were permitted."

1801. The "Act Of Union" between Britain and Ireland enacted. Typhus prevalent in Old Belfast. Edward May M.P.

Edward Street was named after this character Edward May as was May Street Edward May will go down in local history as the man who pioneered the reclamation of land from the Lough edges, but more infamously as the man who desecrated the graves of those buried there at St Georges graveyard at High Street and Ann Street. so as to sell the land for the development. of Church/ Ann Street.

Westland Road was originally Barley Mill Lane.

1800 John Brown a wealthy Builder and merchant becomes “Sovereign” of Belfast , A notable Orangeman, streets like Brown and Browns Square are named after him.

1801. May 13th,The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland allocate Lodge Warrant, No. 200 to The Monaghan Militia.They spit on the graves of their executed patiotic comrades, the Blaris Martyrs.(executed 1797).

Belfast Newsletter, 18 December 1801

A most extraordinary plan for wicked revenge was put into execution on Wednesday last by Doyle, now in the New Gaol, under sentence of transportation for having forged notes in his possession. He contrived to get a confederate to swear the peace against a person named Davis who prosecuted him, and that person being in consequence lodged in gaol, Doyle fell upon him there before there was time to prevent it and abused him most severely; and no doubt would have killed Davis had not Mr. Gregg the gaoler came to his relief, who had Doyle heavily ironed and put into a dark dungeon.


1802 Mary Ann McCracken now living in Winecellar Entry. Her brother John McCracken obtains 150 old Irish songs from Pat Lynch, native of Loughlinisland, Gaelic scholar who translated them to English, for Edward Buting to publish.

1805. Israel Milliken, a close friend of Jemmy Hope, opens his popular Peter’s Hill Public Baths, Israel also gave generously to the erection of memorials to United Irishmen, such as the beautiful memorial to Orr at Ballycarry.

1807 Population Of Belfast now 22,095, houses 3,514, looms - cotton 629, linen 4, The first Belfast Directory formed. William Siclaire, United Irishman died, buried at Cifton Street, known as “Sinclaire of the Hawks”, Wolfe Tone in his dairy wrote of visiting Glenalina Bleachers, (Ballymurphy)

1808 The “Belfast Magazine” issued by Dr, Drennan, it lasted six years ,This I chose, "Belfast Magazine", you will notice, to complete the title of my magazine, “Rushlight. The Belfast Magazine”, which I established in 1972.

1809 House of Industry opened in Smithfield, first Ormeau Bridge built.

1810 Antonia De Silva, a visiting seaman, hanged at “The Three Sisters” Carrickfergus for the Belfast murder by stabbing of Robert Morrison, found guilty his execution took place at "The Three Sisters" Carrickfergus.

1811 St Patrick’s Chapel built, protestant subscriptions £1711 ; total £2,811.

1812 St Georges Church erected on site of old “Corporation Church”, the old Market house is pulled down . Quakers (Friends) Meeting House built.

1813 Sectarian rioting in Belfast, although these were not, as some 'historians' report, the first sectarian riots in Belfast, there were earlier ones in 1809,but the 1813 were the first to result in fatalities, these occured when Orangemen returning from their 'field' marched through the then catholic area, the catholic area then being Hercules Street*(now Royal Avenue), Perhaps these riots could rightly be described as the first major Belfast Troubles. Population now 28,832.(*Here was a sign of how life was to be in Belfast of the future, already there was segregation in the community, and on that 12 th of July evening, 200 years ago, Belfast got a clear indication of what lay ahead, when those Orangemen fired their muskets into bystanders and by the way, the two people they shot dead were protestants.! A hint of 1966 when loyalists burned 77 year old Matilda Gould to death in her Upper Charleville Street home ,they thought she was a Catholic. They say history repeats itself.!)

Limestone Road Belfast was originally called Alexandre Road

Talbot Street Belfast, named after land agent to Lord Donegall.

Library Street Belfast was earlier known as Mustard Street.

Joy Street named after the Joy family who had a paper mill in that area, Blows Printing Works was nearby.

True story,… (early 1800‘s) around this time a corpse of an Orangeman was dug up from Friars Bush Cemetery, carried through the night to the then Ormeau Bridge, and left there . Belfast is booming as regards industry but the living conditions of the working class is indeed dire, the streets are described as like running sewers, and whole families are to be seen sleeping on straw covered floors in one room, disease and fever are common place and so the many accompanying ailments that follow such social squalor and poverty, such as alcoholism, mental illness’s, etc.

Boomer Street Belfast which was just off Divis Street was named after the Mill owner, this perhaps was the last street in Belfast to have “Half Houses,” (a family lived upstairs and one downstairs) Lepper Street in the New Lodge also had “Half Houses” locals referred to them as the “Scotch Quarters” a friend was reared in one and so as a kid, he was nicknamed “Scotty”. And over in Carrick Hill a large block survived there until recently which was known in their early days as “The Scotch Quarters“, (Tenements).

1814. The Belfast Academical Institution, a Presbyterian College, opens.

1816 Two men hanged publicly at Castle Junction for burglary. (last such Old Belfast public executions.. in a public street, that is.)

1817. Frederick Street hospital opened. Great dearth in Belfast unprecedented outbreak of typhus fever. The Howard Street Prison erected.

1818 Old Belfast sees “The Irishman” weekly newspaper issued by John Lawless. John’s premises were at Pottingers Entry, his home was at 36 King Street.

The old Belfast Sugar House Company offered £52 10s reward to anybody giving Information as to who started the rumour that a man fell into a pan of sugar and was boiled to death and that the sugar was afterwards sold.

1819 January 27th.heavy rain, 3 inches fell in 36 hours. Bad flooding. Michael Falloon now runs “Peggy Barclays Tavern” at Sugargouse Entry (between Waring Street and High Street) made famous through the United Irishmen meeting their under the guise of “The Muddler’s Club” pre 1798. This bar later became the “Bambridge Bar” but was bombed during W.W.11. The entry disappeared.

Map for 1819 shows the Old Manor Mill being at the corner of Millfield and Castle Street ( that part then being Mill street).

Interestingly also here in Mill Street lived the infamous Murdoch family and their lodger , Edward Newell, a nest of informers during the 1798 period. After the parents of the patriotic Teelings had to leave their Poleglass home they came for a while to live in Mill Street , just doors away from the Murdoch’s, their home was attacked and plundered by a unionist/loyalist mob, mostly from the Brown street area, and in the fracas, it is said, Mrs Murdoch danced, and, holding a clock above her head, screamed , “look, I got their clock”

1819. The Steam ship, “Clydesdale” Is the first to be used on a new regular cross channel service between Belfast and Glasgow, but this vessel burned during a crossing and was replaced with the “Rob Roy”. The fare for passengers was 3d, then other companies started to run ferries at the same time and competition became fierce, one carried passengers free of charge, another one bettered that by giving his passengers a free pint of strong beer. Really they depended on the cargo for profit. The crossing from Belfast to Glasgow could take anything from 12 to 24 hours, and even 36 hours!

1820 .5th, Dr. William Drennan, Belfast Magazine, United Irishman died, it was he who gave Ireland the name of “The Emerald Isle” in a poem he wrote. In 1819 directory Dr. Drennan is listed as living at “Cabin Hill”. ,Mar.5th, Thomas McCabe, “The Irish Slave” dies , both are buried at Clifton Street Cemetery. McCabe lived at “Vicinage” which the street gets its name from and St Malachys College is on the site of his home. William Putnam McCabe, 1798 Patriot, was his son. The Ulster Historical Society, another old Belfast Historical source, have a fine book on Clifton Street Graveyard I would urge students to obtain. it's called, "Old Belfast Families and The New Burial Ground". The Ulster historical Society also have many opther well researched books students of old Belfast may find very informative.

Belfast had some interestingly named public houses at this time, there was “The Shamrock” at Smithfield and this also was the name of a popular clay pipe made at Winetavern Street. There was the “Tailor‘s Arm‘s“ at Hercules Street, the “Red Cross Tavern” at Bluebell Entry, here also was “The Blue Bell Tavern” , the “White Cross” at North Street and I have to laugh at this one , owned by Eliza Gilliland at 99 North Street , the ,“Hounds and Hare” a case of putting the Hounds before the Hare ,(cart before the horse) The “Wheat Sheaf “was at 1 May Street. John Fitzpatrick owned the “Boot And Crown” at 3 West Street, this also was known to be a meeting place for United Irishmen. The “Coach And Horses” was at Corn Market. “The Eagle Inn, and “Kings Arm’s” were at North Street, and if you think the “American Bar” is a new thing you may be surprised to know we had the “American Tavern”, at Lime Kiln Docks, back in 1820. And in Rosemary Street the “Belfast Arms”, and if you wanted meat with your drink you hadn’t far to go…in Hercules Street there were 47 Butcher Shops to chose from, Hence “Street of the Butchers“.

Belfast Town Penalties For Breaches Of The Police Act..

For all footways not swept before nine o’clock in the morning, and the dirt removed beyond the channel of the street every day in the week except Sunday ;1s 1d -For rolling or drawing any cask, wheel barrow, or other thing, carrying water, or setting down water cans, fruit baskets, Herring baskets, or causing any annoyance or any encroachment what ever, on any footway, 5 shillings first, 10s second, and 20s the third and every other offence. - For throwing ashes, rubbish, dirt, dung &c. in Any street or lane 10s. - For shaking or dusting carpets or floor cloths in any street or lane between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning and 10 at night, 2s 8d. For breaking up any pavement for the purpose of making up or repairing sewers, &c, without license first had, and for not having the same railed in, 40s-For breaking, training, or showing horses in any of the streets, 5s, and not exceeding 20s. For carrying away any manure or dung of any street, £1,2s.6d. -Licensed Carmen not having wheels three inches broad , and their names lettered on their cars are fineable , and forfeit license, - carmen not having their horses by the head, Sitting on their cars, or driving furiously, horses or carts left standing in the streets or feeding &c, &c, are all liable to be fined. Swine found in any street, may be seized, or killed, and sent to the poor house.

Please feel free to use any information on this site, though an acknowledgement to would be polite.

I have many thousands of pictures of old Belfast also film footage readers may like to browse through, for further information contact....... Joe Graham .. ..or 78 Andersonstown Park Belfast.Tel. 90626631