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History of Belfast - Wikipedia. The history of Belfast as a settlement goes back to the Iron Age. Belfast today is the capital of Northern Ireland. Belfast was throughout its modern history a major commercial and industrial centre, but the late 2. The city's history has been marked by violent conflict between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants which has caused many working class areas of the city to be split into Catholic and Protestant areas.
C of E to vote on Want to join? If you are not already a member, please join here. It only takes a minute and it is completely free. The history of Belfast as a settlement goes back to the Iron Age, but its status as a major urban centre dates to the 18th century. Belfast today is the capital of.
In recent years the city has been relatively peaceful and major redevelopment has occurred, especially in the inner city and dock areas. Early history. The Giant's Ring, a 5,0. Bronze and Iron Age occupation have been found in the surrounding hills. The Ford of Belfast existed as early as 6. George's) is built on the site of an ancient chapel used by pilgrims crossing the water. The earliest mention of the Chapel of the Ford is in the papal taxation rolls of 1.
It was located at what is now Castle Place, where several roads meet at the top of High Street. It was first destroyed in 1. Edward le Bruce, who came to Ireland on the invitation of O'Neill and other Irish chieftains.
When Mac Neil Oge was killed by Scottish attackers in 1. The discoveries would have been situated on the south bank of the River Farset. Timbers were also recovered from the Ann Street end of the building which dated to the 1. In 1. 57. 1 this land was granted to Sir Thomas Smith by Elizabeth I, but Smith failed to take control of the area, or to fulfil the requirements of his grant, and so the land reverted to the crown under James I. By letters patent, Chichester was created Baron Chichester of Belfast.
The new importance of Belfast was demonstrated when in 1. The first sovereign appointed in Belfast was Thomas Vesey, and the first representatives sent to parliament were Sir John Blennerhasset, Baron of the Exchequer, and George Trevillian. John Speed's 1. 61. Ireland marks Belfast as an insignificant village.
The customs house was also relocated to Belfast at around the same time, and new trade flooded into the town, much to the expense of the prosperity of Carrickfergus. During the aftermath of the 1. Rebellion, the Scottish parliament sent an army to Ulster to put down the unrest. Many of these soldiers settled in Belfast after the Irish Confederate Wars. During the Williamite War in Ireland Belfast changed hands twice.
After being seized by Protestants during an uprising against the rule of the Catholic James II in 1. Richard Hamilton and the mainly Catholic Irish Army following the Break of Dromore. Later the same year a large Williamite expeditionary force arrived in Belfast Lough landing and taking the major towns of the area before laying siege to Carrickfergus. Belfast was captured by a detachment led by Henry Wharton after the Jacobites had abandoned it without a fight.
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Combined with their failure at the Siege of Derry, Schomberg's landing and march to Dundalk Camp led to the Jacobites withdrawing from most of Ulster and Belfast remained in Williamite hands to the end of the war. Merchant and industrial town. Linen at the time was made by small producers in rural areas. The town was also a centre of radical politics, partly because its predominantly Presbyterian population was discriminated against under the penal laws, and also because of the influence of the Scottish Enlightenment. Belfast saw the founding of the Irish Volunteers in 1.
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Society of United Irishmen in 1. Ireland. As a result of intense repression however, Belfast radicals played little or no role in the Irish Rebellion of 1. Two major developments at the time altered the appearance of Belfast's centre: in 1.
White Linen Hall (now the site of Belfast City Hall) along with new modern streets (now Donegall Square and Donegall Place). The new Queen's Bridge across the Lagan can be seen to the right.
In the 1. 9th century, Belfast became Ireland's pre- eminent industrial city with linen, heavy engineering, tobacco and shipbuilding dominating the economy. Belfast, located at the western end of Belfast Lough and at the mouth of the River Lagan, was an ideal location for the shipbuilding industry, which was dominated by the Harland and Wolff company which alone employed up to 3.
Migrants to Belfast came from across Ireland, Scotland and England, but particularly from rural Ulster, where sectarian tensions ran deep. The same period saw the first outbreaks of sectarian riots, which have recurred regularly since. For 1. 2 July 1. 82. Orange Institution parades in Belfast were banned, leading to demonstrations and serious rioting in the city.
This spread to County Armagh and County Tyrone, lasting several days and resulting in at least 2. On 1. 2 July 1. 85. Catholics and Protestants turned into ten days of rioting, with many of the police force joining the Protestant side. There were also riots in Derry, Portadown and Lurgan. In the summer of 1. Nationalists held a demonstration at Hannahstown in Belfast, campaigning for the release of Fenian prisoners, but leading to another series of riots between Catholics and Protestants in the city.
In June 1. 88. 6, Protestants celebrated the defeat of the Home Rule Bill, leading to rioting again on the streets of Belfast and the deaths of seven people, with many more injured. In the same year, following the Twelfth Orange Institution parades, clashes took place between Catholics and Protestants, and also between Loyalists and police. Thirteen people were killed in a weekend of serious rioting which continued sporadically until mid- September and an official death toll of 3. It had started to overtake Carrickfergus as the main settlement in the area.
So much so that, at some point, Carrickfergus Lough was renamed as Belfast Lough. Industries were set up and concentrated on Belfast, which resulted in a high level of internal migration to the town. Though Belfast had seen some growth before that. Of the migrants, a fair proportion were Roman Catholics from the west of Ulster, settling mostly in the west of Belfast. Until that point Belfast had been overwhelmingly Protestant. Towards the end of the 1. Presbyterian and Church of Ireland congregations of the town and, together with monies donated by Protestant businessmen, enough was raised to erect the first Roman Catholic church in Belfast – St.
Mary's in Chapel Lane. A couple of years later, at the opening and first mass on 3. May 1. 78. 4, the mostly Presbyterian 1st Belfast Volunteer Company paraded to the chapel yard and gave the parish priest a guard of honour, with many of the Protestants of Belfast also present and sharing the event. At the time, the Roman Catholic population of Belfast was only around four hundred. By 1. 86. 6 that number had risen to some 4. In 1. 86. 2 George Hamilton Chichester, 3rd Marquess of Donegall (a descendant of the Chichester family) built a new castle on the slopes of Cavehill above the town.
The new Belfast Castle was designed by Charles Lanyon and its construction was completed in 1. The city's importance was evidenced by the construction of the lavish City Hall, completed in 1. As noted, since around 1. Catholics, who originally settled in the west of city, around the area of today's Barrack Street which was known as the . West Belfast remains the centre of the city's Catholic population (in contrast with the east of the city which remains predominantly Protestant). Other areas of Catholic settlement have included parts of the north of the city, especially Ardoyne and the Antrim Road and the Markets area immediately to the south of the city centre. Conditions for the new working class were often squalid, with much of the population packed into overcrowded and unsanitary tenements.
The city suffered from repeated cholera outbreaks in the mid- 1. Conditions improved somewhat after a wholesale slum clearance programme in the 1. Belfast saw a bitter strike by dock workers organised by radical trade unionist Jim Larkin, in 1. The dispute saw 1. Eventually the Army had to be deployed to restore order. The strike was a rare instance of non- sectarian mobilisation in Ulster at the time.
Partition 1. 91. 2–1. Unionists, led by Edward Carson raised a militia, the Ulster Volunteers, to resist this, by force if necessary. The political crisis heightened tensions in Belfast and rioting took place in city in July of that year. It was then proposed that Ireland would be partitioned, with unionists demanding that the six north- eastern counties of Ireland (four of which had Protestant majorities) would be excluded from Home Rule. Home Rule and partition had been accepted in principle by 1. First World War. Following the end of the War and radical Irish nationalist politics after the Easter Rising of 1.
Irish independence and the partition of Ireland again came to prominence. The separatist Sinn F. Thereafter a guerilla war developed between the security forces and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Under the Government of Ireland Act 1. Ireland was partitioned into Protestant- dominated Northern Ireland (the six most- Protestant counties of the province of Ulster) and the Catholic- dominated rest of the country.
James Craig was Northern Ireland's first Prime Minister. Conflict 1. 92. 0–1. Although coinciding with the Irish War of Independence, the Belfast conflict had a nature all of its own. Unlike the rest of Ireland, where the war was largely fought between the IRA and Crown forces, around 9. Belfast were civilians, as the violence often took the form sectarian assassinations and also of armed clashes between Catholic and Protestants.
On 2. 1 July 1. 92. The violence was partly in response to the IRA killing of a northern RIC police officer Gerald Smyth, in Cork, and partly because of competition over jobs due to the high unemployment rate. The IRA assassination of an RIC Detective, Swanzy, in nearby Lisburn on 2. August prompted another round of clashes, in which 3. Thereafter there were recurring cycles of violence until the summer of 1.