Belfast

A Brief History of Belfast

Before you begin, we thought you might like to take BBC Northern Ireland's State of Minds test. This fascinating insight holds up a mirror to our conscious and subconscious sectarianism and reveals just how bigoted we really are. Click here and all will be revealed.

And, if that all sounds a bit too enlightening, why not indulge in the BBC Radio Ulster epic that is A Short History of Ireland


NOW THE HISTORY
Belfast dates back to the early 17th century and, although a relatively young settlement, is Northern Ireland’s largest, and the island of Ireland’s second largest, city. The name ‘Belfast’ comes from the Gaelic ‘Beal Feirste’ (‘mouth of the sandy ford’).
  • 1641-49 & 1688-90 Two major Catholic risings are put down, first by English Protestant revolutionary Oliver Cromwell, then the Dutch King William lll of Orange. The fledgling Protestant plantation is secured and Ireland becomes firmly British.
  • 18th Century Belfast becomes a major linen-producing centre, earning the tag Linenopolis.
  • 19th Century Belfast experiences a ‘golden age’ under Queen Victoria. The Harland & Wolff shipyard is founded in 1862 and city status is granted in 1888. Belfast becomes one of the world’s leading industrial cities and most of its great buildings are constructed. The 1847 Famine re-awakens Irish Catholic Nationalism.
  • Early 20th Century In May 1911 RMS Titanic is launched from Harland & Wolff.

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26.03.2015
laura mcmillan
mission british columbia canada
i love any history involving belfast ireland my husband is from belfast and is a wonderful man. He and i will be returning to belfast soon and im looking forward to seeing the history in belfast , with him. Love you darlin laura
19.07.2012
Niki
Canada , Toronto
HiIn short I found the history of Belfast some similarities with ours (as the biggest part of Macedonia was given to Greece in 1913) and we still fight for our land. I was born in Agea Macedonia at the age 9 months as refugee during the Greek Civil War 1948 end up in Romania. We still struggle for our recognition human rights and equality. As the guide was talking many times I thought talking about my history. I would love to hear in my time Belfast to be return back to its own people To The Irish .thank you
15.01.2011
Samantha wilson
USA
-my dad just traced my family history allll the way back to 1799. we are originally from Belfast. I know live in Alabama. so i think its kinda unique that this happened(: we're wilson's and im still trying to find more information on us. im planning on a trip very soon.
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