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Famous people associated with old Belfast

Article contributed by Raymond O'Regan.

(June 2004)

Greater Belfast

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The Duke of Wellington, Dean Swift, Sir John Soane, Sir James Murray: these are just a few of the people that you would think had no connection with Belfast but read on:

The Duke of Wellington :
Did you ever wonder why there are so many references to the Duke in Belfast e.g Wellington Place, Wellesley Avenue etc (Wellesley was the duke's surname. The duke's mother lived for a time in Belfast at Anna's Dale (present day Annadale and site of Wellington College). The duke spent part of his childhood in Belfast.

Dean Swift :
Jonathan Swift was a minister at Kilroot* and he courted the daughter of a Mr Waring who owned a tannery in Waring Street. Swift referred to Waring's daughter, Jayne, as "Varina". Unfortunately she spurned his advances. Swift was supposed to have got the idea of the giants in "Gullivers Travels" from the profile of the Cavehill at Napolean's Nose. If you look at it at an angle of 90 degrees it looks like a giant asleep. There is also an area on the York road near the old Midland Hotel called "Lilliput Farm"(see the Belfast Rental Books 1850 The Encumbered Estates)

* Swift's little cottage at Kilroot survived from the 17th century up until the 1960s when unfortunately it was demolished.

Sir John Soane :
Did you know that the man who designed the Bank of England also designed that fine school "INST" (foundation stone laid in 1810 and opened in 1814). He provided his services free of charge and the original plan was for a building twice what you see today but it had to be curtailed due to lack of finance. This need for finance also lead to the lease of land for the building of the "Tech" opened in 1907.

Sir James Murray:
Jury's Hotel is situated in Murray St (just beside "INST") and the street is named after Sir James Murray, who had houses built on the site in the 19th century. He is famous because he is the inventor of "Milk of Magnesia".
The Marquis of Anglesley (the Lord Lieutenant) on a visit to Belfast to see his friend the Marquis of Donegall, came down with a stomach ailment. James Murray, a local apothocary, was called in. Murray had been experimenting with liquid magnesium and came up with what is known today as "Milk of Magnesia", which cured the Marquis's ailment. Murray moved to Dublin and became apothocary to the Lord Lieutenant. His two sons are buried in Clifton St. graveyard but he is buried in Dublin.

This is just a flavour of some of those famous people that you wouldn't have thought had any connection with Belfast.

YOUR RESPONSES


NI Native - Apr '07
How good to see these worthy people being rcognised. Very interesting reading.Also enjoyed the 'N.I. HALL OF FAME. '

Raita Johnson-Outinen - Feb '07
There area couple of sentences from my book about my life with Ray Charles. I wonder how they got on this site, since I myself have never visited the site before. Of course I`m flattered to be mentioned, I love Belfast and know so much more of it today. But. I never sent my regards to the other readers.Somebody must think she is me.! Now I do send my best to all visiting this interesting site.

Raita Johnson-Outinen - January '07
There is a couple of sentences from my book about my life with Ray Charles. I wonder how they got on this site, since I myself have never visited the site before. Of course I`m flattered to be mentioned, I love Belfast and know so much more of it today.But. I never sent my regards to the other readers.Somebody must think she is me.!Now I do send my best to all visiting this interesting site,

Raita Johnson


 


Gerri Moaratty
- Oct '06
Thank you for such interesting reading of my "ole" home town I still miss after 38yrs what happened to that Tannery on Waring St do you have that info, I think my grandfather may have worked there.

Irene and Brian - Oct' 06
Lovely reading all the comments, I still get very home sick for the old place being a visitor is not quite the same maybe one day, I will go home for good.

Raymond O'Regan - July '06
FAO Raita Johnson
The title of this piece refers to olde Belfast. Of course Van [Ivan] Morrisson would be included in modern day famous sons of Belfast. I was involved in a little book entitled "Celebrated Citizens of Belfast" (Appletree Press) where you will find Van and many other famous people.

Rita(Raita) Johnson - July '06

Hello! When I arrived in Dublin, Ireland in the mid-sixties, all I knew about Ireland was James Joyce and Van Morrison.(My boyfirned was making a movie there:Ballad in Blue)

Now as I read the history of Belfast, I can not find Van Morrison, and I wonder why. Isn´t he part of it at all? He was born in Belfat, 1945, and is probably the best know Irishman all over the world at this time. Why have you forgotten him? Regards, Rita Johnson

Joyce Kernohan - June '06
You mention Dean Swifts little round house at Kilroot, this was not demolished but burnt by vandals I believe.

Irene - July '05
Its great to read the history of the city. Can you tell me anything about Murrays Tobacco Works? Interested in hearing from you. Regards. Irene.

JOE ARMSTRONG
I find it fascinating to find that milk of magnesia is related to murray street, i know that street so well having stood there many a night waiting to get into the A.B.C. PICTURE HOUSE in the 70's. POWERFUL!

 



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