Issued by authority of the LISBURN BOROUGH COUNCIL
THE LISBURN COAT OF ARMS
The fleur de lys on the extremities of the cross refer to the
town's historic connection with the Huguenots.
The bishop's mitre is reference to the fact that for three centuries
there has been a cathedral in Lisburn.
The weaver's shuttle and the sprigs of flax are symbolic of the
The ostrich head with the horseshoe on its beak are from the arms of
Sir Richard Wallace and refer to his fame as a collector.
The mural crown, that is the crown in the form of a wall with
battlements, is the badge of a municipality.
The gamecock is a punning reference to the old name of the town�
Lisnagarvey, the fort of the gamesters.
The two phoenix rising from the flames and the motto "I will arise
out of the fire" refer to the fact that the town was twice burnt
down and rebuilt in its early days.
With a population of around 83,000 the Borough of
Lisburn is one of the fastest growing areas in Northern Ireland. In
its present form the Borough dates from the local government
reorganisation that took place in 1973. In that year the former
Lisburn Borough (which had been an Urban District from 1899 to 1964
and a Borough from then on) was abolished and replaced by the new
and larger authority which extends beyond Lisburn itself to include
numerous other towns and villages�including Moira, Dromara, Glenavy,
Dunmurry and Hillsborough.
This large Borough is an area of contrasts. On the
one hand are the hills around Dromara and the undulating drumlin
country of Down; on the other are the busy built-up areas of the
Lagan Valley and, again in direct contrast, the quiet shores of
Lough Neagh which, at beautiful Sandy Bay, offer fishing, boating
The views across Lough Neagh to the distant Sperrin Mountains are
very lovely and can best be enjoyed from the heights at Bohill above
Dundrod or from Glenavy's Crew Hill, a place where, in ancient
times, the Kings of Eastern Ulster were crowned.
As a place of residence, Lisburn is ideally sited.
It is almost on the outskirts of Belfast yet is in the heart of the
Lagan Valley. It is astride the main north-south routes and from it
others lead to the centre of the Province. Good rail and road links
are provided to Belfast and major provincial towns and Lisburn is
also close to Aldergrove Airport, the main air terminal in Northern
Lisburn, whose history has been long and varied, is now a thoroughly
modern Borough, easily accessible and growing in stature as a
Northern Ireland's story goes back many thousands of
years and the landscape of Ulster today has been moulded through
that time, the thickly forested and lake strewn country of earliest
times having given way to well farmed land and the smooth hills of
today. Ever since the time, over four thousand years ago, that Irish
men began to till the land, changes have been a continuous process
although, it has to be admitted, not all have proved to be for the
During the last millennium B.C. successive invasions
brought a Celtic culture and language to the shores of Ireland and,
although not completed until the early years of Christianity, this
process eventually saw a Celtic hierarchy established throughout the
country. From about 300 B.C. onwards man began to adopt iron cutting
tools and these allowed him to adjust to his environment. Cattle
rearing became a major occupation and the need to protect himself
against raiders also became an important factor in everyday life.
Indeed protection was needed not only against raiders but against
packs of wolves which roamed the countryside. This helps to explain
the many earth or stone-ringed farmsteads (raths and cashels) which
are still found in the fields. These constructions belonged to the
more important farmers who were, in all probability, descended from
The ancient culture of the Gael, in which the clan
provided the social base and farming was the economic base, finally
broke before superior forces and widespread devastation resulted.
The forests were destroyed and roads and fortresses were built thus
dividing and isolating the various districts of Ulster. Indeed the
struggle between Ulster and Elizabethan England, which ended in 1607
with the Flight of the Earls, was a battle between two
civilisations. The Gaelic way of life, however, was far from being
the barbaric nomadism that contemporary English writers and later
historians portrayed it; it was, with its aristocratic traditions,
ancient laws and spoken literature, on a very much higher plane than
The Gaelic way of life was a pastoral one and had no
need of urban centres. Even by 1600 the only places with urban
pretensions were such small post towns as Ardglass and
Carrickfergus, places founded by the Normans. The 17th century,
however, brought the plantations which were concerned with the
setting up of market towns. These, although small, became centres of
ad-ministration and influence and their markets and fairs became
regular features of local life. These new towns helped the Ulster
plantation to success and they became the main instruments through
which was built up an awareness of the Protestant tradition of the
English and Scots.
The period of independence, from 1782 to 1800, was a period of
prosperity for both landlords and the people of the towns. Much
money was spent on roads and new 'public works'; the market towns
grew and, in many cases, were replanned. Some wholly new towns, with
their wide main streets, were built. In most Ulster towns the oldest
houses and inns date from these years at the end of the 18th
century. Pre-Georgian secular buildings are almost non-existent.
Many farmhouses and country mansions were built or reconstructed at
or just after this period.
It is against this background that the towns and
villages of Lisburn Borough should be seen.
The town of Lisburn is the administrative, market,
shopping, business, educational and recreational centre of the
Borough to which it gives its name. It is a busy industrial centre
standing on the River Lagan to the south of Belfast, on the main
rail route from that city and at the junction of the Ml motorway
with other main roads.
Lisburn was the cradle of the Irish linen industry
and this is still an important industry. The town was founded as a
planned community by Sir Fulke Conway in 1609�it was then known as
Lisnagarvey. In 1698 Louis Crommelin, a French Huguenot refugee, was
appointed by William the Third to organise the linen industry. The
growing town was destroyed in the war of 1641 and again in 1707 when
an accidental fire destroyed almost the whole urban area including
the cathedral and castle. Its revival after this great conflagration
was helped greatly by the Huguenots and names of French origin are
still fairly common in the district. It was a Lisburn linen
merchant, Henry Munro, who led the United Irish insurgents in County
Down � in 1798 he was hanged in the Market Square. Other famous
figures of Lisburn's history were Sir Richard Wallace, who gave the
world the famous Wallace art collection in London, and Nicholson of
Delhi who played such a vital part in the Indian Mutiny. Nicholson,
although born in Dublin, was brought up in Lisburn.
Largely as a result of the fire of 1707 Lisburn
has very few old buildings. The most interesting is Christ
Church Cathedral (Church of Ireland) which is tucked away behind
houses to the east of the Market Square. Originally built in
1623 (and a good example of 'Planters' Gothic) it was rebuilt in
1708 after the fire. The rather slim spire was added a century
later in 1804. The original church was, in 1662, given cathedral
status by Charles the Second when he raised the Rev. Jeremy
Taylor to be Bishop of Down and Connor as a reward for his
services in the Royalist cause. Bishop Taylor died in Lisburn in
1667 and was buried in Dromore Cathedral.
Prominent in the Market Square is a bronze
statue of General Nicholson (Nicholson of Delhi) who is shown
with a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other. The statue
was the work of F.W. Pomeroy R.A. Also in the square are the
Assembly Rooms which, with the domed clock tower and handsome
interior, were rebuilt in 1708 after the fire. Of the former
17th century castle, another fire casualty, only a part of a
gateway still stands in Castle Gardens on a slope between the
cathedral and the river.
Other buildings of interest include the First
Presbyterian Church which is one of the oldest in Ireland � it
was built in 1708 but a much earlier church had existed on a
nearby site. In the Market Square stands the first house to be
built after the Great Fire of 1707; another house in the square
was the home of Henry Munro and now forming a part of the
Technical College, is the house in which Sir Richard Wallace
once lived. St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church at Chapel Hill
stands on the site of an earlier church of 1794. The interior is
of lofty and dignified Romanesque style.
Modern Lisburn's centre suffers from traffic and
'planning blight' problems but substantial redevelopment is
scheduled. The first part of a through-pass road is complete and
a second phase is well under way. The town centre has an
excellent range of shops and the open-air market at Smithfield
Square draws great crowds every Tuesday morning.
Other amenities of Lisburn include the 25 acre
and well wooded Wallace Park which was given to the town by Sir
Richard Wallace. There is good fishing in nearby streams; the
town has a modern indoor swimming pool and facilities for many
outdoor & indoor sports and social activities.
Although man-made fibres have, to a great
extent, usurped linen, that textile is still processed in the
town as are the newer nylon and terylene products. Hilden has,
indeed, been making linen thread, twines and cordages
continuously since Napoleonic times.
Long established though the linen industry is,
the oldest activity of all in the Lisburn area is agriculture
and many of today's industries are still based on the land.
Close to the town is one of the country's largest factories for
making animal feeding stuffs and there are also two farm
by-products factories within the Borough. Other factories pack
and export eggs, manufacture jam, can all kinds of fruits and
vegetables, process poultry, and deal with other types of farm
Prominent among more modern industries are
cabinet making, ball-bearing manufacture and motor car
production. Modern furniture is made for home and overseas
markets with several of the new plants working almost wholly on
export orders. Ball-bearings are made almost entirely for export
by a world-famous firm. Other new industries include the
manufacture of tyre valves (by a large American-owned business);
tape recorders; wire rope; clothing; pressure lamps and cookers;
and life saving equipment. Development continues and other new
industries are moving into the industrial estates on the town's
The commercial aspect of Lisburn, too, is fast
developing. Many multiple stores are found in the town but a
significant feature of the commercial scene is the large
family-run business concerns that carry on long traditions of
Industrial development needs technical skills
and technical education has progressed alongside industry.
Excellent training and educational facilities are given in the
textile, engineering, furniture and building industries. The
business life of the town is also helped greatly through the
services of an active and progressive Chamber of Commerce.
Lisburn Economic Development Organisation
The Lisburn Borough Council has sponsored the establishment of
an organisation in order to promote industrial development in
The object of the organisation is to:
1. Encourage new firms to start in business.
2. To help existing firms to survive and grow.
3. To Promote closer co-operation of development plans and
industrial promotion programmes.
4. To attract new firms from elsewhere.
A preliminary meeting of the new organisation
has taken place and steps are being taken to place the new
organisation on a firm basis.