Old Courts and Alleys of Lisburn
Do you know where the following places are or used to be?
1. The Black Loanen
2. The Ball Alley.
3. The Sluice Gate.
4. Belfast Gate.
5. Turnpike Hill.
6. Laverty's Lane.
7. The Rookery.
I have been doing some research work on the street names of Lisburn of mostly a
by-gone age, and have received great assistance from the Public Record Office,
Law Courts, Belfast, wbere there is a mine of information on such subjects.
As anyone can see, Lisburn is in a state of change at
present. The old part of the town, where all the residents at one time lived, is
being demolished, houses changing to shops, and open areas exposed for
In a few short years we shall see a new-look Lisburn, and I
wonder what it will be like.
I hope it will be a town of which we can be proud.
When I came to Lisburn, some 42 years ago some of the old
courts were occupied, and by some very nice people. I was in and out of these
houses very often as they were in need of repair and being the Sanitary Officer,
to the occupiers I was a friend in need.
At such places as Bullicks Court and Wards Court, off
Linenhall Street, Stewarts Court off Chapel Hill, Seeds Entry and Bullocks Entry
off Bridge Street, Barrack Lane off Hill Street, Fairymount Square and Millview
off Chapel Hill I was a frequent visitor and, I hope, helped to make life a
little easier for the residents.
But there were other places which were no longer used as
dwelling places, and you might find it difficult to spot some of them today.
Browns Entry, which is behind tire Christian Workers' Hall
in Market Street, runs from its entrance in Smithfield Square to the rear of J.
C. Patterson's premises.
There used to be a narrow outlet to Bow Street. About 1880
there were five slaughter houses and a piggery in this entry.
The Slaughter House occupiers were Johnston, Damon (2),
Dickey and Magee and the piggery was in the name of Thomas McBride.
This area was called "The Shambles," a name
common to areas in towns where slaughtering was carried out.
Macartney's, or McCartney's Lane or Entry, ran parallel
with Browns Entry up to Bow Street and is now Felix Elmore's Yard.
If you care to look up this yard from Smithfield you will
see the outline of the old houses on the left, now stores. There were nine
houses here in 1862.
Next-door was Smithfield Court, now the "Spar"
Yard-ten houses here in 1862.
Have a look up this yard also. Now, if you stand a few
yards back from the gateway entrance, you will be standing over the By-wash.
There is a wall on your right, falling down, at the rear of Miss Kate Molloy's
shop, and if you look carefully, you will see the top of an arch built in this
wall, about one foot from the ground, to take the weight of the wall from the
roof or crown of the By-wash culvert underneath.
What is the By-wash? Originally an open stream running
through Lisburn and taking all sorts of drainage to the Lagan. Look over the
Union Bridge and you will see where the By-wash enters the Lagan. Just on the
little garden patch at Mr. Allen�s yard the crown of the culvert is visible.
The By-wash is still running through Lisburn unseen, being
culverted from Stewarts' Mill to the Lagan. It is no mean culvert it is big
enough to allow a man to walk along it. I have walked it !
But back to the lanes and courts of Smithfield. Haslam's
Lane, spelt at times Haslam's Lane, Hazel Lane.
Haslem's Lane (1833) had 23 houses in 1862. Now all are
Musson's Court, off Haslem�s Lane at approximately Mr.
Cumins' yard, had three houses in 1862.
Haslem's Lane is now a main thoroughfare. What is going to
be done with it to make it worthy of its position?
Another street off Smithfield was named "The
Rookery:" It is now named Barrack Street probably from the fact that the
Royal Irish Constabulary barracks was at the Smithfield end.
The Rookery had thirteen houses in 1862, one of them
numbered "9 1/2" I wonder why! When going from Smithfield to the
Dublin Read at about 1833 you proceeded up the Rookery and along the lane to the
There was no Smithfield Street at that time.
I have now told you where the Rookery was; have you found out anything about the
1. The Ballynahinch Road.
2. Site of Mr. Stewart's Coal Yard, Chapel Hill.
3. Where the By-wash runs under Bow Street.
4. Now called Seymour Hill.
5. Hillhall Road, at the last of the thatched cottages. Have a look at these
venerable old houses.
6. A lane at the Washeteria at the Housing Trust shops, Longstone Street. By the
way, there actually was a "long stone." It lay at the corner
of Longstone Lane and Lismara Terrace. It's marked on the old maps.
Now, perhaps, you will find out for yourself where Wellington Park, Phillips
Court, Basin Lane, The High Street and the Glenavy Road are. Just for fun.
Also, how many licensed premises there are in Lisburn now?
There were 36 in 1914, when the population is half what it is now. A thirsty lot
Do have a look at Bullick's Entry between Nos. 27 and 29
Bridge Street; at Seeds Entry, between 30 and 32 Bridge Street; at Stewart's
Court, between 42 and 44 Chapel Hill and at Millview between 92 and 94 Chapel
Hill, and see what working-class dwellings were like in the not so distant past,
and be thankful for the present-day standards.
Bridge Street of Bygone Days
Bridge Street, Lisburn, the busy street which has retained its name throughout
the ages, when streets of less importance have followed the fashion and adopted
a name considered to be more suitable to the period.
We will take a leisurely walk down the street at five o'clock on a week-day
morning, at this time of the year, March, and at the beginning of this century.
"What I five o clock in the morning'? Yes, if you wanted to be
"in" before the horn stopped blowing, you had to be up early, and we
wish to see the workers leaving their homes for work.
Coming along Castle Street we have passed some horse-drawn
carts, well loaded, clip-clopping along the way to Belfast from as far as Lower
The drivers, half asleep, wrapped up in overcoats, sometimes walking beside the
horses and sometimes sitting on the carts smoking their pipes.
We arrive in Cross Row in semi-darkness, the feeble light
of the gas street lamps casting a weird kind of yellow light for a short
Then into Bridge Street, where we meet misty figures, stout
boots sounding on the narrow footpaths, hurrying past on the way to the station
to catch the train for the great shipyards, the factories and foundries of the
City. A long day when you leave home at 5 a.m. and return at 6.30 or 7 p.m.
Where do these people come from, where is their home? Let
us watch carefully, as the people appear on the footpath as if by magic; one
minute there is none and the next a person is on the footpath.
They are coming out of the courts and alleys which have
outlets on to the footpath just the width of a doorway. Look l there's a man
just come out of an entry, "Seeds' Entry," a dark and dismal place,
running downhill towards Barnsley's Row.
The entrance is between 30 and 32 Bridge Street, and there
were five houses in 1882, eight houses in 1889 and two empty derelict houses in
1970. Yes, they are still there.
Across the street, "Bullick's Entry" has come
awake and a few people have come out, two of them women, wearing shawls. Yes,
the women had to start work in the mills at 6 a.m. and you had to be punctual-or
There were, and are, five houses in Bullick's Entry, two
low level and three on a higher level. They are empty and derelict. The occupier
of No. 27 Bridge Street might let you in to see them. The entry door is kept
"Hart's Yard," between 36 and 38 had four houses
in 1862, but is closed and no one comes out.
Between 40 and 42 was "Leather-dales" or "Lawder-dales
Entry; with six houses and "Mussens' Court" between 44 and 46 had two
"Woods' Alley,- at the site of the Lisburn Gas Works
was between 50 and 52, had ten houses and one cellar occupied in 1862.
'Herron's Alley,' between 56/58 was bought by Lisburn Gas Company, a private
company. The foreman lived in No. 56.
There were six houses in 1862. An Edward and Sam Herron
owned property here.
Next between 70 and 72 was Edgars, Egars or Sloan's Entry,
called by these names at different periods. Had eleven houses at 1862, owned by
Jane Edgar, and three houses in 1914 owned by the Misses Sloan.
On the 31st March, 1910, William and Letitia Kelly were
both suffocated in a fire in their house in Edgar's Entry.
Earlier in the year there was another serious fire in
Bridge Street. On the fifth January, 1910, David Feagan, a lamplighter for the
gasworks, his wife, Sarah Ann, and their children, Patrick, eight years; David,
six years; James Edward, four years, and Mary Jane, aged two years, all lost
their lives in a fire. At the funeral there were three hearses and six coffins.
In Holy Trinity Cemetery, Longstone Street, there is a memorial erected by the
brothers, Robert Henry and Richard Feagan.
These small houses in the entrys were death-traps in a case
of fire. There was a kitchen downstairs and one bedroom upstairs and if a fire
started, usually in the kitchen, the smoke rendered the inhabitants upstairs
asleep unconscious with fatal results.
The cathedral bell sounded the fire alarm in these days.
The last entry in Bridge Street was between 74 and 76 and
was Hutchison's Entry. It had six houses in 1862 owned by a John Hutchison.
There were four houses in 1914. A Thomas Leatherdale lived here in No. 3.
You will notice that the entry's, et cetera, were named
after the owners. By this means they obtained a kind of immortality.
The number of persons living in and off Bridge Street was
swelled on these murky mornings by the Co. Down workers mining across the Union
Bridge. A goodly crowd of, on the whole, quiet people at this time of day, going
to work up Bridge Street. They were the back-bone of industry.
(There are plenty of persons living in Lisburn today,
especially in the Co. Down area, who remember Hutchison's and Egar's Entries. I
remember being down Egar�s Entry-the popular name-when the houses were used as
stores and workshops by R. J. Allen, who bad a second-hand business in No. 70.
From No. 70 to the bottom is now part of the Bridge Street car park.)
Alfred Connel, who died on 9th June, 1940, was the last
clogmaker in Lisburn. He lived at No. 26 Bridge Street, and made clogs at the
rear of the shop. He was a slightly built man with silver hair, and could be
seen at the door of his shop, wearing a leather apron and a pair of his own
clogs. A very nice person to know! I remember bringing Raymond Glendenning, the
B.B.C. interviewer, to see if "Alfy" would take part in a B.B.C. radio
programme entitled, I think, "Provincial Journey;' but he refused, much to
Mr. Glendenning's disappointment. Alfy said, "No, thank you. I have always
been a respectable man, and I'm not going to change now.' And he didn't.
We have a few of the wooden soles with the iron shedding on
them in the Lisburn Historical Society Museum. The minutes of the Board of
Guardians 1841 stated that a pair of clogs for men cost four shillings and four
pence, and for women three shillings and six pence.
As we go back up Bridge Street chatting, it is seven
o'clock and getting light, the "pubs' are opening, of which in 1914 there
were eight. The shopkeepers "taking in the shutters," some of the
shops already open, as the occupiers lived on the premises. And the glow from
the gasworks retorts not just so bright.
Bow Lane, Now Busy Bow Street
Bow Lane, as Bow Street was called, has always been a busy and at one time, a
densely populated street. Like Bridge Street, it had a number of little courts
and entries where the workers of the industrial period lived under what we would
consider to be very poor conditions, but which were the accepted thing.
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In the period of about 1840 the occupiers of premises fronting Bow Lane had a
wide variety of occupations, from manufacturers, shopkeepers, tradesmen,
labourers and private citizens, all living in the Lane with their front door
opening out on to it, and their children playing on it.
There was one clergyman, Rev. Thomas Higginson, the last government chaplain of
the French Huguenots at Lisburn. He died on the 22nd June, 1819, and is buried
at the Middle Church, Ballinderry. He was aged 52 years. At No. 88 Bow Street
(now Dr. McClellands surgery) Robert Stewart lived. He began twisting thread by
hand in 1835 in Lisburn, the beginning of Messrs. Robert Stewart & Sons.
About 70 premises of all shapes and sizes, providing for the needs of a small
town in goods and labour. (If you would like further information on the
population and their occupations in 1819, you will find it in the Directory for
that year in the Public Record Office, Belfast)
With the arrival of the industrial revolution about 1820;
with power spinning and power weaving in 1850, workers were needed and workers
needed houses. So the empty spaces at the rear of the existing houses were
gradually filled in with dwellings.
These early houses had usually only a living room and a
bedroom, and in most cases no backyard. Overcrowding was the rule and living
The houses which were built by the Barbour family for their
workers at a later period were really a breakthrough. They were good, solid
houses, at low rents, which look good even today. They were all sold to the
But back to Bow Lane. You remember the three entries in
Smithfield? Brown's Entry: four houses had an entrance to Bow Lane between Nos.
3 and 5; McCartney's Entry, 10 houses between 7 and 9, and Smithfield Court,
10 houses between 11 and 13.
These entrances were not carried up clear of the building
to the sky, but were covered over by the building facing the front street, to
the depth of that building.
They were the width of a doorway. Two thin people might
squeeze past each other, but two fat ones couldn't. I don't think there were
many "fatties" in those days.
At the site of approximately No. 8 Smithfield Square there
was a building called "The Black Hole." This peculiarly-named building
was used as a place of detention for tramps and evil-doers about 1833.
A walk further along and at No. 27 was Jefferson's Court.
There were four houses in it in 1882. Owing to the amount of rebuilding here and
in Bow Street, generally it is difficult or impossible to place thus court
It was beside the By-wash, which still runs under the
roadway which is the side entrance to Redmond Jefferson's. You may wish to see
the By-wash? Well, just go to the far end of the car park at the rear of
"Crazies" and look through the hedge and you will see the stream and
the commencement of the culverting. It is at present choked with debris.
Then on to Haslem's s Lane, between 43 and 45, which has
now become an important thoroughfare in the town, and will, we hope, develop
further as a shopping precinct. It had 28 houses in 1882. Mussen�s Court, with
three houses, led off Haslem's Lane. A busy street, especially on market days.
If you look into what was Cumins' Yard you will see the gable of one of the old
dwelling-houses which had windows looking out into Mussen's Court. These windows
were filled in a few years ago. The old house is used as a store by Messrs.
Redmond Jefferson. Between 57 and 59 there is an ally with a pub, it's just
beside Messrs. Jordan's shop. You would think this alley would have a name, and
probably goes by the name of the publican.
Lion Tea House
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It was occupied by John G. Ferguson in 1914. If you have heard of a name, please
let me know. By the way, have a look at the lion above the old window in
Jordan's shop. It is now in the Society's Museum. This shop No. 59 Bow Street (a
very good photograph of which is in the Ulster Architectural Society's book on
Lisburn was taken over by James Macartney of Cabra, Lisburn, about the late
1880's. He was assisted by his brother Robert, who took over the ownership on
his brother's death. James must have renovated the shop when he became owner,
putting in a new front with the window woodwork being of the
"barley-sugar" pattern, and the lion on top. The shop was called
"The Golden Lion Tea House." The lion had stood in Bow Street for over
140 years. It is now in the possession of the Lisburn Historical Society by the
kind permission of Mrs. Ferguson, of Aboo Court, Finaghy, the owner of the
premises. Of the thousands of people who looked into this shop I'm sure there
were very few who noticed that there was a square piece in the middle of the
centre window wood framing, and cut out on it were James Macartney's initials.
The Historical Society bas a photograph of James. James Reid, of Cabra, gave us
the photograph, showed us Macartney's home, still in good shape at Cabra, and
told us the above information, including his birth certificate, which states
that he was born at Cabra on the 4th December, 1851. The original spelling of
his name was "M'Cartney," as shown by his father's name "David
McCartney" (mother's name Jane Carrothers) on the birth certificate. James
Macartney, Bow Street, Lisburn, died 18th September, 1896, aged 44 years, and
was interred in the Lisburn Cemetery, Hillsborough Road.
Now over to the other side of the street to Tanyard Lane,
now Graham Gardens. There were 26 houses in 1862. Quite densely occupied for
such a smelly place !
The tanning of hides was carried on the site of East
Downshire Company and McCahey's Garage. I remember Mr. McCahey telling me of a
well below part of the garage which was said to have been used by the tannery.
There was a brewery on the site of the motor premises
opposite Mr. McCahey's, then Donaghy's Boot Making Company, burned down at the
"troubles." The Proper Food Company functioned for a while here, but
that is quite recent.
There were 44 shoemakers named in the 1819 directory and
four saddlers, so the leather got a good hammering in the old Lisburn. Their
motto must have been "There's nothing like leather."
Colonel Graham had a house and beautiful gardens at the far
end of Tanyard Lane. I think the entrance m the house was from Bachelors Walk,
which was a tree-lined walk with no houses.
It must have been truly rural.
You will have guessed how the name "Graham Gardens'
The red brick house in Graham Gardens, now occupied by J.
C. Patterson, was used as a dwelling-house by the Loan family until about 1933.
Now it is all drab and dreary and the beautiful gardens are
only dotted lines on old maps. The price of progress?
It is almost impossible to see any signs of Chambers'
Entry, with four houses between 21 and 20 and Vaughan's Yard, with four houses
between 32 and 34, as the extensive alterations and rebuilding have removed all
trace. Only the covered entrances me still preserved.
Turning into Antrim Lane (Antrim Street) we immediately
find on the right an entrance which has an iron gate. (No gate in the past.)
This gateway is the entrance to what was Lyness Place and Rice's yard.
There were 20 houses in Lyness Place and 10 in Rice's Yard.
I remember being in these places about 1930, when all the homes were empty and
mostly derelict. The houses in Lyness Place were brick, and in Rice's Yard stone
Miss Anderson, of the Bow Street Post Office, et cetera,
used some of the Lyness Place houses as stores. It was the yard to her shop.
Miss Rice and her brother lived in the dwelling-house in
Bow Street, and from the back kitchen you looked down the yard. The old houses
were covered with hanging ivy and only the outline of the houses could be seen,
the scars hidden and softened.
Miss Rice said she pointed the ruins out to visitors and
told them it was "Rice's Castle," and with a little imagination it
The house Miss Rice and her brother lived in is now the "Savoy," a
confectionery and bread and pastry shop. They were very friendly people. Miss
Rice fond of a chat and her brother fond of a walk round the town and country: A
There were only three houses in Bow Street about 1930, and
their front door and sitting-room (on the ground floor) looking out on to Bow
Street. The Rices and Thompsons (at the far end). No. 3, also Frank Russell's,
the veterinary surgeon. These were private houses.
Consider that in Bow Street and the alleys off it, there
were at a time, between 170 and 180 dwellings. At five persons per house that
gives a total of up to 900 persons.
All these people milling around, and coming and going in
the street and alleys, living and working (and sometimes fighting); in such a
congested area it was impossible to get away from one another, and to keep from
treading on someone's toes. Thus did our immediate ancestors live and die. It
was tough going.
So ends our visit to Bow Lane or Street of about 1880.
Today the alleys are no more, the shouting and the tumult have ceased; children
do not rush out to play in the street. Life has departed, and at night there is
empty and complete silence.
But hush! Ghostly footstep! Miss Rice has just gone in and
shut the door. Ochone, ochone !
Do you believe in fairies? You don't! Well, in our walk today you will get proof
of the existence of fairies in the Chapel Hill-Longstone area in 1829.
But fist we will pay a visit to the homes of the ordinary
mortals, have a look at the last remains of their dwellings, and ponder over the
changes since then.
You'll remember that we finished our walk down Bow Lane,
and it is natural to continue up Chapel Hill, this narrow street, something like
Bridge Street, leading up past the Chapel.
By the way, the Chapel has not got the spire originally
designed by the architect-it was to be a much finer and more ornate structure
than the present spire which was built on, as many saw, some years ago.
It never was finished as intended and a beautiful drawing
remains unfulfilled in stone.
We have only proceeded a few yards when we reach Ball Alley
Lane, or, the "Ball Alley," which is now Mr. Stewarts yard. This was a
crowded alley of 18 houses in 1862 owned by Hugh McCall, and from what I have
heard from persons who remember it, partly occupied, it was a lively spot on pay
Just imagine 90 persons living down the alley. It wasn't so
many houses to the acre then, but all you can squeeze into the space.
There was a lodging-house near to the alley where persons
could stay for a night or so. These, commonly known as "doss houses"
for itinerants, were a feature of the period. The alternative was the Poor House
or sleeping rough, the latter resorted to in the summer.
There were so many that regulations were made to control
them in some measure. In the 1930s there were Common Lodging Houses in Bridge
Street, Smithfield and Antrim Street.
Across the road there is a gateway at No. 11, now used as a
bicycle sales and repair depot by Mr. Hanna. Down this was "Kernaghan's
Entry." It had four houses in 1862 and was entered by the usual narrow
passage. It was known also lately as Johnny Maguire's Yard.
One of the difficulties in tracing the old streets is the
change in name with a change of owner. Mr. Hanna will have no objection to you
seeing the remains of the old houses, now considerably altered.
Back to the other side of Chapel Hill again, we see another
small entrance between 42 and 44. There is a door closing the entrance now, but
when in use, there was no door. We rap at No. 42, the occupier kindly opens the
entry door for us and we enter "Stewarts' Court."
The name used to be painted on a slate above the entrance,
and the mark of the slate is still there on the wall.
The passage is very narrow and is laid with cobblestones,
as is the rest of the court. The narrow passage widens at the rear of No. 42 and
there are five houses (two storey) on one side and one house across the bottom.
The houses are empty, but still standing-at various times I
have been in them all, and when visiting one, the other occupants came out to
see what was going on. There was very little privacy in these courts.
Across the road again, and we look for "McCall's
Court" in vain. It was on the site of the present Parochial House. The
previous Parochial House was up at Priests Lane and its site had houses built
and known as "Trinity Terrace" at the entrance to the new B.C.
The old graveyard is behind the Chapel and worth a look around.
Across again, and we go down Pump Lane, now Ridgeway Street. (Why do we have to
change these old names?) The lane had a well at the bottom and, I'm sure, a
pump. There were seven stone houses in 1819. You can see two of them in the
The other old houses were further down and are all gone. Notice how much smaller
the two old houses are than the later ones beside them.
This lane led away down into the fields on the Benson Street area.
Up to the Chapel Hill again, and we'll call with Mrs.
Lavery at No. 49 and have a chat. Mrs. Lavery is over 90 years young-and I mean
She is smart in her movements, her memory is as clear as a
bell, has never needed spectacles, and can thread a needle. Isn't it wonderful l
She remembers when the new brick houses across the road
were stone-built houses and shops. As you listen you can see the things she
Long may she continue to tell about by-gone days. She has
lived about 70 years in the front here, and in Fairymount Square behind her
As you come out of No. 49, look down at the exposed gable
of the house at the first of the new houses and you will see a tiny fraction of
the old stone houses and shops.
Across the street and round the comer of the last new house
and we are in "Stewart's Row," or Millview. It had 18 houses in 1882,
10 in 1914, 10 in 85 all occupied. Now two are occupied, one facing the wide
entrance, and very nice too, and one round the corner and behind it.
The other houses are derelict. There were some old stone
houses on the left of the row, and if you look carefully at the ground you will
see a couple of the old flat door steps and some stones sticking up which were
the front walls.
In front of the houses the street was cobbled. These small
cobble stones formed a rather uneven surface but were easily put down and taken
up. Sometimes there was a pattern worked in the use of coloured stones.
I painted a water colour of these old houses.
Again across the road, beside the entrance to the Golf
Club, is the entrance to "Fairymount Square." Yes, it was actually a
square, in behind the old houses in Chapel Hill. It always had a wide entrance.
There were 15 houses originally, but 12 in my time.
The walls of the Boys' School playground was the back wall
of the houses. They were in a row and had a kitchen and a bedroom. They looked
out across the grass to the toilets at the far side of the square, one for each
There was again a cobble stone footpath and a channel in
front where slops were thrown; a water tap at each end of the row.
The big open space in front of the houses was where the
washing was hung out, and on a Monday it was really worth seeing, as the
majority of the twelve households vie with one another in the cleanliness of the
washing. Some very nice families lived in Fairymount Square.
O yes! How did the name "Fairymount Square"
originate? From the "Fairy Mount" of course, and we�ll have a look
at it. We enter the Golf Club ground and go down past the car park on the left
to the first field with the two very old stone round gate posts and look at the
mound or "mount" in the field.
This is the Fairymount, and it is marked on the old maps. I
wonder what is below the mound. It has been there a long time. Perhaps hundreds
of years and maybe the site of an old fort. Have any fairies been seen lately?
They used to be! The field is used as a playground by the
children of the Manor House and perhaps some of them have the innocence
necessary to see the wee folk !
At any rate, fairies used to pass this way in 1829!
"How do you know?" sez you. "It's in the book," sez I.
"What book?" "A Particular and Valuation of the Lisburn Town
Parks of the Estate of The Most Noble the Marquis of Hertford, 1829."
On page 24 are the names of some of those persons who had
land rented from the Marquis and number 37 is (wait for it!) "Neil
Fairy," and this is a true statement) He rented one acre two roods and
fourteen perches of an annual value of �3 3s 6d and lived on the land, which
was east of Longstone Lane.
I'm sure that Neil and his family of little Fairys knew the
"Mount and the children may have played on and around it. Could it be
possible that Neil Fairy's name gave the mound its title? I'll leave you to
think it over.
Fairymount Square has departed but the "Mount" is
still there. Would the Borough Council consider that "Fairymount Park"
would be a suitable name for the new development of the Golf Club land. The
Mount belongs to the Home, but could become a part of the main scheme and be
At No. 40 on the same page is the name John Singleton, who
had two acres and four perches. Probably Johnny Singleton's great grandfather.
Mr. Singleton, lives a little further up Longstone Street.
While we are here, have a look at the avenue of beautiful
trees with the wood pigeons in the branches, some of which must be 200 or 300
years old and very well worth preserving. This was John Laverty's lane and he
had land and a house down it.
At the Golf Club machine-house you will see the ruins of
what may have been Laverty's premises.
Down here you are at the rear of the Manor Home, which was
the Manor House of the Stannus family. Miss Louisa Fitzgerald Stannus was the
last owner, and she came into town in her pony and trap from Hillhall.
This lane was a back entrance to the Manor House and there
was a gate lodge at the Chapel Hill end.
The gate lodge has gone, but you will see plasterwork on
the stone wall on the left as you go back out onto this road, which may be all
that is left of it.
Have you noticed the front gate lodge at Manor Drive, off
Dublin Road and opposite Christ Church? Do have a look at it, partly hidden
behind bushes-a real link with the past.
During a period when it was unoccupied, vandals, of course
had a go, and smashed most of the period diamond-shaped panes and woodwork. Some
of the small panes which had been knocked out were of glass over half-an-inch
John Laverty's Lane had its good times and sad times. The
Lavertys and the Fairys passing in and out, mostly on foot, and the Stannuses
rolling in in their carriage betimes. And before the Stannuses the fever wagons
bringing in the sick, for there was a Fever Hospital on approximately the site
of the Manor House, and where there is sickness, there are mourners.
At the time of the great potato famine about 1845 there was
also a serious epidemic of typhus fever. The hospital here was filled to
overflowing and the sick persons were housed in tents outside the hospital. The
tents were lent by the military. The Manor hospital was closed in late 1847, and
fever sheds which had been built to accommodate the sick were replaced by a
permanent fever hospital for sixty patients in 1848. 1 was told that when the
foundations were being dug for the gardeners' new house at the Manor Home, a
skeleton was found-a paupers burial place.
The Fairy Mount has been there all this time and has seen
it all, and perhaps the fairies have watched wide eyed from behind the 'Mount'
and sympathised with those going slowly up the lane.
We have now left Chapel Hill behind and are going up
"The Longstone," and you could say you were really getting into the
If you observe the stricture of the existing houses, you
will see evidence of those houses which were there from about 1800. Look for the
stone work, usually black stone, but occasionally some sandstone in the front
wall, or in the case of cement plaster-finished fronts, you will see the black
stone in the walls.
At this period (1800) there were approximately 60 houses between Chapel hill and
the Moira Road, mostly on the left, going up as far as Warren Gardens, which was
known as Longstone Lane. The only house above this was the cottage occupied by
the Stevenson family at the commencement of the Moira Road.
On the other side of the road, the right hand side from Priests' Lane (Tonagh
Avenue), to what is now Tonagh Park, there were no houses. Where the Housing
Trust now has the shops there were five houses with long back gardens, one of
them two storey and the rest thatched.
The Housing shops are built in the back gardens of these small houses and the
parking area in front was the site of the houses.
Further up, at the corner of the Ballinderry Road, there were five small houses
on the right as you went round. On the site of St. Paul's Church there was a
cottage and at the junction of Causewayend and Ballinderry Road was the cottage
known now as No. 20 Ballinderry Road. At least there was a cottage on the site.
On to the Causewayend, which is a geological feature, an
Esker Ridge, and the oldest road in the district. The Causeway was deposited
during the ending of the last Ice Age between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago. It
was probably used by our primeval ancestors when the both sides were
The name is significant. Yon can tell by the number of
houses that the Causeway End was a much-used road in the past. You can see the
same on the Broomhedge Road, houses all along it. Very few houses on the Moira
Road until recently. Quite a new road from past the turn off to the Maze to the
Trummery Cross Road, where the Broomhedge Road joins it again.
Well now, after that quick run-up, we free-wheel back down
to the start of the "Longstone." The word "street" crept in
later, maybe about 1840 or 1850. And the first lane on the left is "Foots
Lane." I would say it was called after one of the family who made a gift of
the William Foot Memorial School to the Methodists.
The entrance to Foots Lane, off Longstone, was at the site
of Mrs. Caldwell's licensed premises, "The Evening Star," and ran from
there right across the Golf Course to Dugan's Lane, later New Lane, and later
again Sandy Lane, and New Warren Park.
Two original houses at the Warren Park end are still there.
On the 1844 map of Vacant Town Plots, it shows the lane continuing on to the
land at the cemetery. The occupiers of these two houses were then Henry Dugan
and Henry Gribben who each had a cottage and garden.
There is a long line of trees showing the route of Foots
Lane and I would imagine that the lane was on the left of the trees, as you go
towards Warren Park.
We came in through the pub yard, past the little football
ground, and went through the fence on to the Goff Course. And while we are here
we can look for the "Devil's Hole," a rather frightening title that
appears on the old maps.
It may have been an old sandpit as the soil is very sandy.
There is certainly a depression between the sixth green and the Manor Park and
it may have been much deeper in the past.
You must remember that before the Golf Club acquired the
land, it was all fields and Foots Lane gave access to these fields. As we go
back we look along the stately line of trees, just like a line of guardsmen on
We came out of the pub yard, still sober, and cross over
the road. We are outside the Lisburn Free National School, now just one hundred
years old. This school, known locally as the "Raggety Bap," performed
a very useful function. In addition to the three Rs, it gave the children a
simple substantial menu, i.e., a large mug of sweet milk and a thick slice of
bread and butter, a forerunner of the school meats.
This was something uncommon in National Schools at this
time. Now, all the Primary Schools get free milk for the pupils. Many a time I
was at the Free National and saw the white mugs being filled up with milk from
the milk can.
What was then considered as a kind of charity has now
become the accepted thing. How our ideas change! Free milk, free books, pencils,
paper, et cetera, et cetera, and its all taken for granted.
The old saying "What you get for nothing is not
appreciated" could be true.
I forgot to mention the Infant School, which was on the
site of the Chapel Hill Filling Station. It was a small school and had a house
built into it. It was under the authority of the Lisburn Cathedral and was also
used as a Sunday school.
It was a wardens post during the last war. A very old
school completely gone.
Just above the Free National was the R.C. Parochial House.
The houses known as "Trinity Terrace" are roughly on the site. The
back entrance to the Parochial House led out on to the Priests Lane, formerly
Maginnis Lane and now Tonagh Avenue.
On a map of 1855 it is marked as "Priests Lane."
Not so long ago, what is now Tonagh Estate was all fields. In 1938 there was
only a pair of newly-built semi-villas named "Thompson's Villas."
It is easy to imagine the priests taking a quiet stroll
down the country lane on an afternoon or evening, and going as far as the well
at the bottom. They may have on occasion drawn their water supply from the well
as water was scarce at times.
The well was known as the "Priest's Well." There
is no sign of it now. Parochial House, Priest's Lane, Priests Well, the quiet
lane, only a memory.
Now, all rush and bustle as everyone goes about their
business and the children go to and fro from Tonagh Primary School, which was
about where the well used to be.
O, yes! "Thompson's Villas;" built by James
Thompson of 73 Longstone Street, the house just demolished at corner of Manor
Street. A wonderful and hard-working man, and a person known to everyone.
His daughter, who lived in No.3of the villas, told me of
her father serving his time to the boot trade in McAfees of Belfast, and then
having a shop in Castle Street, Lisburn.
But coming of farming stock, he gave up the shop and got
into the livestock and farming business, cattle, pigs, vegetables and grazing.
He was a man who would tackle anything, and when the Board of Guardians decided
to have the old disused Cholera House, which adjoined their office, taken down
and removed, he finally got the contract.
He was paid for taking it down, although I seem to remember
that the Guardians thought they would be the party to get the money. They
didn't. They were glad to pay to get it down.
Do you remember the Board of Guardians and Rural District
ofices in front of the District Hospital? The office was built in 1840 and taken
down in 1967. You soon forget.
Rumour was rife in the town that if the Cholera House was
broken up there would be an outbreak of cholera, but rumour was a "lying
jade" and did not deter James Thompson. He had the stones of which the
building was made taken to the Priest's Lane and deposited on land which he
owned. They lay for some time, maybe a year or two.
Eventually a plan drawn by James Shortt was passed and the
houses were commenced about 1936. As much of the material from the Cholera House
as could be used was used, and the lovely houses were eventually finished. They
were the only houses in the Priest's Lane, and something for which Mr. Thompson
could be proud. He died in No. 3 in 1943.
The stone-mason was Jack Porter of Dromore. (There were no
stone masons in Lisburn), and the joiners were Sam Crone and Tommy Martin. I was
in and out of these houses while they were being built and it was a pleasure to
see a stone mason at work, measuring each piece of black stone, cutting it to
size and shape and fitting it into positron.
No hurry, just steady, painstaking work by a master-mason.
Do have a look at these two villas; they are unique. Notice
the jointing, perfect, and see how the stonework fits in will, the brickwork.
Two houses made by craftsmen of almost a bygone age.
I have gone on at length about these two houses, because I
was identified with them as a Council official, and I have a certain
satisfaction in the fact that out of a heap of what looked like useless rubble
two comfortable homes arose. Mr. Thompson's vision lives on.
Out on to Longstone Street and across the road at 57-59 is
Pattons Entry, or Courtneys Entry, with one house. We passed another little
entry at No. 41. A gateway with one house down it. No name.
Next, at 71a Longstone Street, is Manor Street, which was a
short cul-de-sac with five or six houses, not very old, on the left-hand side.
They are all away.
Messrs. John Graham (Dromore) Ltd. brought along the
bulldozers and, hey presto, the scene is changed. All the houses from No. 73 to
97, including Howard Street, formerly Phillips Court, were pushed over, scraped
up, flattened out, and the site prepared for houses of a modern age in less than
If you haven't seen Phillips Court, you have missed your
It was a court of seven old houses of various types. One
was two storey and the rest one storey. They were owned by Miss Sarah Phillips
in my time and she lived in the large house at the entrance to the court in
Her back door led on to the court.
The houses were on the left and the front windows looked
out at a high stone wall which was whitewashed. A quiet little court.
Above Phillips Court was the long row of single storey
houses, although in some instances the roof space was used as a bedroom with
either a skylight or a very small window to the front at floor level.
I wonder how many people passing up and down the Longstone
and looking at these little houses with the long front gardens noticed that the
first house past Phillips Court had no front window. The front door had two
glass panels, and there was a window in the back wall.
I painted a water colour of this row in 1965. It was really
then that I noticed that the first house had no front window.
Hurrying on up we come to "Johnstons Lane," now
Manor Park. There were no houses down this lane and it was a Widow Johnston�s
rented land from the Hertford Estate. On the 1848 map the name is Mrs. Mary
Johnston. The Johnstons or Johnsons must have retained possession of the land
for some time for the name to be given to the lane.
The tenancy in those days was usually from year to year,
commencing November 1, and if you didn't look after the land, next year you were
out! The Lord's agent saw to that. There was always someone waiting for a vacant
The Borough Council now owns the land and the houses, and
they have almost the same powers over tenants, and there is still a waiting
list, so beware, times have not changed so very much.
Now for "Longstone Lane;" now Warren Gardens,
which leads from Longstone to the Dublin Road. There was actually a large stone
or boulder of some sort lying at the entrance to the lane at Lismara Terrace and
it is indicated on the 1833 map.
There were very few houses down the lane and they were past
Warren Park, and are shown on the 1877 map. No houses from Warren Park to
Longstone Street. You could hardly believe it.
Across the main road again to the Housing Executive shops
and flats and at the Washeteria there was another 'Laverty's Lane."
It had no houses but led down into fields on the other side
of the railway and joined up with the "Dummy�s Lane:" The Dummy's
Lane ran from Dumville's Bridge, on the Antrim Road, to Aickins Hill, Causeway
It was a public right-of-way, and marked as such on the
Wallace Estate papers. I hope it is preserved in any new development. It is a
short cut and a pleasant walk from Antrim Road to Causeway end.
Across the road again and the only house between Longstone
Lane and the start of the Moira Road is occupied now by the Stevenson family. It
was formerly occupied by a Mr. McCann, and the lane beside it is "McCann's
There were no houses in the lane; it led down into the
fields and to the Lagan River, where there were several good bathing places used
by the local boys. I have heard that the boys from the Quaker School (Friends)
used to bathe here.
They now have their owns pool at the school.
There was a branch of McCann's Lane led out to Longstone
Lane. They are growing houses in the fields nowadays. If you don't visit the
area much, you will be surprised. It's a young town up here.
I had a drive around and I didn't know the place. New
roads, new names new houses, new people, new ideas. Lisburn is getting bigger
and bigger, and instead of everyone knowing everyone else, we are gradually
becoming strangers; we shall only know those who live beside us.
I suppose it is inevitable, but we shall lose the friendly
spirit of tire closely-knit community if we don't take care to keep it alive, or
do we care?
So ends our walk up the Longstone, where the green pastures
of former days are disappearing as the 1970 aspect emerges. We never build for
eternity, just for a step on the way. This is progress.
What can one say of Castle Street in a short article which will give the present
inhabitants of Lisburn a thirst for further knowledge of its past?
Castle Street formerly the High Street, is steeped in the
history of Lisnagarvey and of Lisburn. With the castle of Sir Fulke Conway
practically overlooking the street, it has seen peace and almost war take place
at the very doors of the houses.
Burnings, lootings, and sudden death stalked the night more
than once and Castle Street was in the thick of it, with the fierce shouts of
men in combat and the flames lighting their faces as the houses burned, and the
horsemen charging along into the men staggering on the frost and ice of
November, 1041. Rebels and loyalists locked in battle and dying in Castle
Street. And again, a rebellion in 1798, and more deaths. God help us, we have
been at it a long time. It is said the Irish have long memories of the evil
days, and you, would think there was no other kind, but it is the bad times that
have the headlines.
There is no excitement and glory in being at peace; war is
always in the "top ten;" even more so today. It makes you think-or
From the ancient times of the O'Neils, the original land
owners, to the present, is a long step, and many illustrious and ordinary folk
have walked along this short street and become famous. Books, well worth
reading, have been written about some and memorials erected. Could we have a
quick look at a few of these worthy people?
The proud O'Neils must have passed this way as they walked
the boundary of their possessions for the last time. James I granted the land to
Sir Fulke Conway in 1609. The new owner built his castle and just over fifty
tenements and this was really the start of the town. The lay-out of the three
streets-Castle Street, Bridge Street and Bow Street-remain the same to this day.
Many famous people have had associations with Castle
Street. Sir George Rawdon, commander of the King's forces in 1841, King William
on his way to the Boyne, the Duke of Schomberg, said to have stayed at No. 13;
Louis Crommelin, pioneer of linen production; the Delacherois family, General
John Nicholson, and his schoolmaster, Benjamin Neely; Bishop Jeremy Taylor, the
Handcock, Richardson, Barbour and Dubordieu families; Sir Richard Wallace, Dean
Simons, Rev. Snowden Cupples, et cetera.
The Cathedral Rectory, being then in Castle Street, there
was always the Church influence in the street, especially as the early rectors
and vestry had charge of the paving of all the roads and footpaths.
It was the Rev. Snowden Cupples who was rector during the
'98 rebellion, and in the book, "Lisburn Cathedral and Its Past
Rectors;" it states: "it must have been a painful experience for him
when his parishioner, Henry Munro, was induced to join the rebels, and was
executed in the Market Place in his presence. The story has often been told of
how Dr. Cupples, though himself a staunch loyalist, befriended Munro after his
arrest, and gave him Holy Communion on his way to the scaffold. "
Good Christianity and very rough justice, and what a change
from today when Munro would probably get off with a suspended sentence.
In Dickson's "Revolt in the North" there is an
interesting account of Munro's sister by a yeoman named Ponytz Stewart, whose
name occurs in the 1819 Street Directory as a householder in Castle Street. Here
"Margaret Munroe, the beloved Sister of the late
Harry, who was hanged here . . . has been known to me for many years. As a young
woman in her teens she was well set up and handsome beyond a fair description. .
. She was one of the first ladies to ride alone on her horse from this town
(Lisburn) to Belfast. When the United Irish Society established a club of their
craft here, Margaret Munroe became the mistress of the great dinners and suppers
given at their assembly rooms in Castle Street."
Stirring times in 1798, and we haven't settled down even
In the year 1819, the number of houses in Castle Street
equalled the number of houses with which the whole town commenced, and a very
diverse collection of people they were.
In, Bradshaw's Directory of that year, there resided in
Castle Street in individual houses, ten gents, five ladies, two tailors, two
doctors, two schoolmasters, four linen merchants, one naval officer, one
apothecary, one baker, one writing clerk, one saddler, two carpenters, one
hairdresser, one mason, one hosier, one cutler, one attorney, two haberdashers,
one post master, one carman, two dressmakers, one farmer, one gardener, one
Sheriffs assistant, one dealer, one sawyer and two clergymen.
So, you can see that the needs of the people, material and
spiritual, were well looked after. Try and squeeze all these people into the
Castle Street of today!
Now for our walk along the street. We will start from
"Boyd's Corner"'and proceed along that footpath to the first entry
called Bakery or Baker�s Lane or Entry, now a gateway entrance at Nos. 9 and
11. In 1862 there were fifteen houses in it owned by Hugh Seeds. The-last house
was occupied, during the 1939-45 war. There must have been a bakery in the
entry, to have the name applied to it. Just opposite, across the road in Castle
Street, there was a shop called "Subscription Bakery," a peculiar
name. The only baker in Castle Street in 1819 was James, McClure, and he may
have baked in the entry and sold the product in Castle Street. You can just see
him carrying the loaves across and disappearing inside, leaving the aroma of
freshly-baked bread. Ah me! Where has that lovely smell gone?
Castle Street c. 1884
It is said that a man named Wallace had a cotton mill here
with the first steam engine in the country.
Just a couple of steps and we are at No. 13 all renovated
and upto-date with-could you guess? A bakery! McClure's ghost will be flitting
around here of a night. This is the house in which the Duke of Schomberg stayed
on his way to Hillsborough, and was until lately in the occupation of the Wilson
family, who gave a large silk scarf, which had belonged to General Nicholson, to
the Lisburn Historical Society.
At Nos. 15 and 17 was "Johnson's Entry" entrance,
but not any more now. The Linenhall House Furnishers' new premises have been
built on the site. In 1882 it was Johnson's Court and had 18 houses owned by
Mrs. E. K. Johnston In 1914 there were four houses occupied, and the last house
was occupied by Wm. Kearney about 1949.
Further along we pass the Town Hall, once Sir Richard
Wallace�s estate office, where the staff looked after Sir Richard's interests
from Ballymullen to Glenavy. In those days speaking tubes were used between the
rooms, and the name of the official was on a circular plate round the tube where
it entered the wall.
There was a secret stairway from what later became the Town
Clerk's office, from upstairs down to the office below, once the surveyor's
office. If Mr. Capron, chief estate agent, had no wish to see a client, he got
out of the way down this stair and out on to the street. Owning the whole town
and country entailed, I'm sure, some angry scenes, especially as plots of land
changed tenants at the will and pleasure of the agent. A good get-away was
useful. Due to alterations the stairway has disappeared.
Next the Technical College, once "Wallace House,"
Sir Richard Wallace's Irish residence from 1830, but not much used by him. He
really was a Parisian, as the fountains in the Castle Gardens and Wallace
Park prove. I have a book, "A Guide for the Stranger in Paris,"
dated 1878, which shows an engraving of the fountain, with these remarks:
"Fontaine Wallace: The fontaines Wallace were given by Sir Richard Wallace
to be placed in the districts frequented principally by the working classes.
They are of two different designs: 45 with caryatids and five called d'applique.
In the first model the water comes out of th cupola, which is supported by four
caryatids. It falls into the basin and so washes the cups fastened by a chain.
In the second system the water comes out of the head of a figure placed in the
front and falls into a little cup which is fastened between two pilasters."
The book was produced in Paris. The two fountains which we
possess are real historical pieces and should be treated with care.
There was once a line of houses from the police barracks to
the Fire Authority premises and one was occupied by Dr. James R. Feennell. I
always thought this surname exceptional having each letter used twice.
The Fire Authority headquarters was the home of the Barbour
family and the lane at Dr. Emerson's, No. 47, is known as "Barbour's
Yard." There are two dwelling-houses in the yard, which I have heard were
used one time as workrooms. The stabling and hay lofts are still there. Wee Davy
Jones kept his pony and van there. Have a look up here at a piece of old Lisburn
crumbling down. It is a public right of way on the Wallace Estate maps up to Mr.
Just across the street at No. 48 is the house in which the
great Nicholson lived as a boy. There is a plaque over the door. It seems
cracked. The house is now owned by the Convent School. The Convent was built
about 1870 on the site of the dwelling-houses and has been gradually enlarged.
On the 1878 estate maps there is a National School next to the Castle Gardens,
and the Convent then was the portion of the building next the National School.
You will see the change in the structure when the next portion was added if you
look carefully at the front elevation.
At No. 53 Castle Street there is what appears to be a front
door, but it opens on a passage way which is a side entrance to a front house
and to another house further back. Have a look in some day.
Castle Street c. 1884
We now leave Castle Street and going straight on we are in
Seymour Street, or, in the old days, "Belfast Gate." At No. 9 is the
Health office, with a portion over a lane. This is Basin Lane, formerly
"Beggar Lane." This lane led up to the basin or reservoir which was
the town water supply and is now the pond in Wallace Park. There were nine
persons as householders in 1819, in 1882 three householders, 1914 three, and
today two houses.
Just before reaching the Lisburn Hospital, formerly the Co.
Antrim Infirmary, there are two small houses, Nos. 11 and 13 Seymour Street, and
if you' look under the archway you will see another house behind them. On the
estate map is what may be a further three or four houses through a gateway on
the right. This may have been Hogg's Entry or Mack's Court, said to be off
Seymour Street, and had four houses. Further investigation is needed here. There
was another Mack's Court off Back Lane (Laganbank Road), which is now
Past this little entry is a house, now part of the
hospital, which has a marble tablet on the front wall. It was a private house in
the 1870s and was occupied by the Rev. Robert Lindsay who was a cathedral curate
in 1851. If you wish to know how the house became part of the hospital, just
walk through the gate and across the grass and read about it. Did you ever
notice this tablet before? I doubt it l
Further along the street, same side, there were two
schools, one the Church Educational Society School, and the other the Infant
School House. They were on the site behind the houses which have the small front
Some of the senior citizens will remember these schools.
Another school which is now operating is the Convent Primary School. On the left
of the passage way to this school was Canon Pounder's garden.
The Canon was a lovable man who was very generous with the
apples from his garden. Steverson's garage is on the site.
Now, when you have read about Castle Street and Seymour
Street, please take a walk, or shall I say a "dander," along these
historic streets and stand and stare. You will see changes, but there are still
views which are almost the same as 100 years ago. See them on a sunny Sunday
morning or when there are no cars rushing along. Look carefully from house to
house and from roof to roof to ground level. And don't forget the fine view
looking towards the Cathedral spire.