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Belfast: A History


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Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements ix 1 Site for a city 1 The castle at the ford 9 2 Founding fathers 21 A new town 23 The 1641 Irish rebellion 28 3 War, peace and survival, 1642-1706 29 4 A long minority, 1706-1760 38 Castle versus Corporation 38 Religion 41 5 Architects and agitators: Belfast, 1760-1800 50 Radicalism and repression 59 6 Industry, trade and politics, 1800-1860 70 Industrial revolution 70 Trade, finance and communications 74 Population growth and urban problems 81 Political change and political power 85 7 'Fit and proper persons', 1800-1860 87 Local government 90 Sectarianism 94 Religion and education 97 8 Industry, trade and society, 1861-1901 102 Linen 102 Ship-building 105 Engineering 107 Other industries 109 The port 112 Population change 114 Housing and urban development 116 Transport 120 Sanitation and health 121 Working conditions 126 Education 127 Churches and charities 130 9 Party politics and local government, 1861-1901 135 Sectarian violence and party politics, 1861-86 135 Town government 143 Sectarian politics and the labour movement, 1886-1901 149 10 Heyday and crisis, 1901-1914 153 The social pyramid 153 Standards of living 158 Religion and education 163 Industry and trade 166 Industrial relations 169 Municipal enterprise 173 Party politics 178 11 The First World War and after, 1914-1939 183 War and peace 183 The economy: trouble and change 191 Living standards and unemployment 194 Sectarian violence and municipal government 197 Education 200 Health 202 Public works and private pleasures 204 12 The Second World War and after, 1939-1972 206 Wartime 206 Industry: challenge and change 213 Trade and transport 217 13 Society and politics, 1945-1972 220 Housing and urban development 220 Education 223 Welfare services 225 Social trends 227 Belfast politics 228 Sectarian conflict 231 Local government reform 234 14 Social change, 1973-1993 237 15 The long war: a short history 242 Sinn Fein/IRA 245 1992-1997 246 1997-2004 247 16 Postscript: renaissance, revival, reconciliation 250 Culture wars? 251 What of the future? 254 Notes and references 259 Select bibliography 271 Index 274

About the Author

W.A. Maguire graduated with a MA (Hons) in Medieval History and English Literature at St Andrews University, and later completed a Ph.D. at Queens University, Belfast. His early career was spent in teaching before being appointed Head of History at the Ulster Museum. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His Ph.D. thesis formed the basis for his highly acclaimed first book, The Downshire Estates in Ireland, 1801-1845 published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford. The Donegall estates were the subject of his next book, Living like a Lord, which was published in 1984, a second edition following in 2002. His research at the Ulster Museum has led to publications on the history of photography in Ireland (Caught in Time; A Century in Focus) and work on two exhibition projects; Kings in Conflict on the battle of the Boyne and Up in Arms on the rebellion of 1798. Since retiring from the Ulster Museum his research has been concerned mainly in the field of urban history.


Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. Most of Belfast, including the city centre, is in County Antrim, but parts of East and South Belfast are in County Down. It is on the flood plain of the River Lagan. By population, Belfast is the 17th largest city in the United Kingdom and the second largest on the island of Ireland. It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly. "Belfast: A History" is an exceptionally well written and beautifully illustrated history of one of Ireland's premier and often controversial cities. Thoroughly 'reader friendly', informed and informative, "Belfast: A History" is highly recommended for community library collections and the reading lists for non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history of Ireland in general, and the city of Belfast in particular.--Midwest Book Review

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