Big thank you from

Historic Lisburn

in association with the

Front Illustration (detail): The Square, Lisburn 1919. David Could (1871-1952) Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum Collection

Lisburn Historical Society was established in 1967, through the support of Lisburn Borough Council and at the request of the Chamber of Commerce, 'because of the interest in the history of their town and in the preservation of their historic borough'. The Society has met this aim by organising talks by experts, excursions, encouraging the preservation of historic buildings and by 'building a collection of items of local interest or otherwise, books, documents and pictures or kindred objects'. In 2000, the collection which had been built up over the years to consist of almost one thousand items, was donated to the Council for safe keeping and display in the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum.View from Union Bridge of the Island Spinning Mill and the Lagan Canal, c. 1920s Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum Collection

The Society has a programme of monthly lectures by visiting speakers during the winter months. In the summer season, outings are arranged to places of historical interest, both locally and further afield. There are currently over one hundred members and visitors and new members are always. welcome to the meetings, which are held on the first Wednesday of each month between September and April.

Further information about Lisburn Historical Society and the current programme of meetings is available from the Reception staff at the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum, Market Square, Lisburn BT28 1AG. Tel. 028 9266 3377.

Lisburn, in the parish of Blaris, is situated close to the river Lagan. Its name in Irish is Lios na gCearbbach or Lisnagarvey, meaning `fort of the gamesters', a reference to the number of defensive hill forts in the area in early medieval times. Lisnagarvey continues to be used in the names of local sports teams.

In 1611 James I granted the lands of Killultagh in south west Antrim to Sir Fulke Conway who had fought for the Earl of Essex in the King's campaign against the O'Neills. During the 1620s, Conway laid out Market Square, Castle Street, Bridge Street and Bow Street as we see them today and encouraged settlers from his estates in Warwickshire and Wales. A manor house, known as Lisburn Castle, was built for the Conways as well as a church and a market house.

During the 17th and early 18th centuries two other groups, the Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution in France, and the Quakers, members of the Society of Friends in England, came to Lisburn. Their skills and commercial experience provided distinctive contributions to the prosperity and growth of the linen trade in 18th century Lisburn.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Lisburn's central location in the Lagan Valley was enhanced by canal, rail and road connections. The Industrial Revolution brought mills and factories and Lisburn became renowned for linen manufacture as well as trade. The descendants of Fulke Conway, the Hertfords and Sir Richard Wallace, continued to exert their influence. In the 21st century Lisburn continues as a bustling market town, its citizens conscious of their distinctive civic heritage and the importance of preserving it for the future.

  1. Market House and Assembly Rooms
    The Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum is housed in the former 17th century Market House. During the 18th century an elegant upper floor Assembly Room was added and the building continued as a civic meeting place in the 19th and 20th centuries. Lisburn Museum was founded in 1979 and expanded into its present form in 1994 with the opening of the Irish Linen Centre.
  1. Lisburn Cathedral
    The church of St Thomas was founded in 1623 and was granted cathedral status by Charles II in 1662. The present building dates from reconstruction following the town fire of 1707. It contains memorials to prominent citizens, including two stained glass windows to the memory of Sir Richard Wallace and a wall tablet to Bishop Jeremy Taylor.
  2. Castle House
    Built in 1880 as the private residence of Sir Richard Wallace (1818-90), a descendant of the Conway family who were the 17th century landlords of Lisburn. Wallace's name is remembered in Wallace, High School, Wallace Park and as a patron of the arts, whose collection forms the Wallace Collection in London. Castle House is now part of Lisburn Institute.
  3. Castle Gardens
    This is now a public park and was formerly the gardens and grounds of Lisburn Castle, which was built in the 1620s by Sir Fulke Conway. Part of the original Jacobean boundary stonework remains, with a datestone of 1677.
  4. Wallace Fountains
    Situated in Market Square and Castle Gardens. Sir Richard Wallace was resident in Paris during its siege in the France-Prussian WarWallace Fountains of 1870-71. He erected fifty drinking fountains in Parisian streets to provide clean drinking water for the people of Paris, a number of which still remain today. Five fountains were also presented to Lisburn, of which only two remain.
  5. First Lisburn Presbyterian Church
    One of the earliest Presbyterian congregations in Ireland, the present church was built in 1768 and was enlarged and remodelled in the mid-nineteenth century. It was formerly located behind properties in Market Square which were demolished in 1970 for a new extended frontage and porch.
  6. Seymour Street Methodist Church
    Opened in 1875 on a site given by Sir Richard Wallace, this red brick church in Venetian gothic style replaced the old Methodist church in Market Street where John Wesley had preached.
  7. St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church
    Erected in 1900 on the site of all earlier church of 1786. In the entrance is a memorial to the Very Rev. Mark McCashin who initiated the construction of the church. The first burials in the graveyard behind the church date from 1850.
  8. Statue of Brigadier General John Nicholson (1821-57)Statue of Brigadier General John Nicholson (1821-57)
    Nicholson, a Lisburn man, was commissioned in the Bengal Infantry in 1839, and fought in the First and Second Sikh Wars in the 1840s and 1850s. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857 he took charge of the assault on Delhi and was mortally wounded. The statue by Pomeroy was placed in Market Square in 1922
  9. Hilden
    A former mill village with 19th century terraced housing for the workers employed by the linen thread manufacturers, William Barbour & Sons, founded in 1784.
  10. Drumbo
    From the Irish, Druim Bó, meaning 'ridge of the ox'. In the Presbyterian church yard is the surviving stump of a round tower c. 12th century AD.
  11. Hillsborough
    A Georgian village, developed by Wills Hill, 1st Marquis of Downshire (1718-1793). The former Hill family residence, Hillsborough Castle, is now the residence of the Secretary of State. The parish church was completed in 1772. Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941), composer and conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, was the son of the organist.
  12. Moira
    From the Irish Magh Rath, meaning 'plain of the fort'. A small 18th century market town developed by the Rawdon family. The parish church was built in 1723. Moira Railway Station dates from 1841 and is the earliest surviving station building in Ulster.
  13. Middle Church. Ballinderry
    Built under the direction of Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, chaplain to Charles I, and noted Anglican scholar, the church was consecrated in 1668 and remains a good example of a 17th century Church of Ireland parish church.

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