PRESENT DAY c.1600AD – Today

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LORDS & THE LANDSCAPE

The Belfast Hills were once a playground for rich lords and linen barons with huge swathes of land, managed by gamekeepers, for their lord’s enjoyment and status. The Hertford Estate, centred round the area known as Killultagh at Lisburn, was one of the three greatest estates in County Antrim; it would have ranged from Lisburn to Lough Neagh. In the 1700s, the Marquess of Hertford would have travelled up the Pond […]

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FARMING & THE LANDSCAPE

Since the arrival of farming to Ireland in 4000BC, the hills have been farmed recurrently as climate and technology have changed. Gradually the Gaelic method of open summer grazing, or booleying, of the hills was replaced by permanent enclosed farmland. This can be seen in the 1767- 1770 Lord Donegall maps, referred to as ‘parcels of land’.  This coincided with great civil unrest in areas such as Carnmoney as rent […]

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QUARRIES & LIMEKILNS

Quarrying had existed in the hills for thousands of years, as shown by the Neolithic flint factory at Ballymagarry, quarries seen on old estate maps, and in townland names such as Legoniel, ‘hollow of the limestone’. The growth of Belfast in the 1700s, with its stone buildings such as the Linen Hall Library, caused a rapid increase in the number of quarries and limekilns. At this time, lime production for […]

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WORLD WAR II

There have always been wars, battles and military sites in the hills, such as McArt’s Fort and Castle Robin. WWII brought a sudden increase of new activity in the hills. It is well known that Belfast was ill-prepared for the Blitz of spring 1941, with virtually no anti-aircraft defences. The first impact of the Blitz was on the thousands of city dwellers who literally ran for the hills and camped […]

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MILLS & INDUSTRY

The ability to harness the power of the rivers flowing down from the Belfast Hills signalled the start of the industrial development of Belfast. Mills were built along the Colin, Ballymurphy, Forth and Milewater rivers. These mills changed in use between production of corn, flax or cotton, depending on the export market at the time. A wide network of dams and mill races were created to maintain flow and power. Many […]

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PUBLIC & GREEN SPACES

In the late 1800s there was a strong movement towards creating green spaces, particularly for the urban, working classes. At this time, diseases, such as tuberculosis, were rife in cities and it was believed that sun and fresh air were the cure. The development of Bellevue— from a tram stop to a viewing platform to a zoo, pleasure gardens and the Floral Hall—is a great example of this.  As part […]

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