Lisburn is an anomaly, for it is a town with a traffic problem, but absolutely no parking problem. It is probably this unexpected combination that makes it one of the most thriving small towns in Northern Ireland, and certainly one of. the best shopping centres outside Belfast.
In fact. in many ways it is a better shopping centre than Belfast, for while the city presents the aggravating problem of getting from your car to the shopping streets, which in the business centre are spread over a square mile or two, it is no trouble at all in Lisburn.
Most of the good shops (and, believe it or not, many of them beat Belfast for the variety, quality and value of their wares) are concentrated in a couple. of streets, and while parking in those particular streets is rigidly controlled. there: are always huge public parking places only a few moments' walk away.
So, if you are a stranger and see the main streets choc-a-block with moving traffic, have no worry. In Smithfield Square, where the buses park and which you will almost inevitably see as you drive through the town from Belfast, there is a big car park not half a minutes' walk from Bow Street, the main shopping street. Or, if you turn down Bridge Street towards the M1 intersection, there is an even bigger one from which you can walk along an alleyway which is a part of old Lisburn into the modern heart. of it at Market Square.
The foregoing information is, of course, mainly for strangers passing through Lisburn, and they are the people who create the traffic problem, for no matter how fast the motorway which skirts the town, most people seem to prefer the friendly stopping-off place Lisburn is.
That it is a friendly stopping-off place cannot be denied. Good restaurants, good pubs, excellent shops. soon Ulster's most modern indoor, swimming pool, some of the most beautiful urban park areas in the Province and, probably the most important, the natural friendly courtesy of the, country combined with the efficiency of the city.
It is almost impossible not to like Lisburn, and the people who live there are fortunate It has probably the most attractive approaches, from all points of the compass, of any town of comparable sire in this country. And because it is the approach areas that form the residential suburbs the people who live there are, in the main, housed in an environment which is surrounded by trees and, more often than not. within easy access to one of the town's relaxation of recreation parks.
The natural attractiveness of Lisburn's suburbs has inspired developers, both public and private, to build houses which blend to a great extent with the rural channel that exists right on the edges of a busy urban area. In fact, in certain areas hardly a stone's throw from the main shopping streets, it is hard to believe that one is still inside the town boundary.
The resultant. blend of natural beauty and the understanding of enlightened builders produces something that is fairly rare in Northern Ireland -- gracious homes in gracious settings with commerce and industry bustling away just round the corner.
The compactness of Lisburn confers bonus after bonus on the permanent residents. Look at it this way: within easy walking distance from. any-where are Wallace Park 25 acres of green and wooded land; Castle Gardens. a pleasant little park overlooking the River Lagan right in the centre of the town; Just across the river the John Milne Barbour Junior Memorial Playing Fields and. on the west of the town, the Sir Milne Barbour Memorial Park with lovely flower gardens and an excellent bowling green.
If it is sport you are looking for the famous Lisburn Cricket Club is not far away (Lisnagarvey was the original name for Lisburn) and the. local golf club is Just on the edge of the town.
If it is good educational facilities for your young family you are looking for you could not be in a better place. Inside the town boundary there are five primary schools, two secondary schools and a technical college provided by the County Education Authority. as well as two primary and three grammar schools provided by voluntary bodies. Of the three grammar schools one is a convent school for girls and the other two, Friends and Wallace High, are co-educational.
If it is work you are looking for there are plenty of opportunities in and around , Lisburn for, apart from the Government industrial estate at Derriaghy, only a mile or two along the road towards Belfast, new industries are springing up and expanding on all sides of the town.
But, because about a third of the population of Northern Ireland is concentrated in Belfast, you probably work there too. No problem, for Lisburn is only 10 or 15 minutes away by the M1 depending on the type and age of your car, and the type and age of yourself.
It is convenient, not only to Belfast, but to the airport, to Lough Neagh, to the Mournes, and it will soon be convenient to Newry and Dublin, for the Government is pushing ahead with the construction of a dual - carriageway linking Hillsborough with the Border.