The History of Rosemary Street
1660 - Rosemary St. (or Rosemary
Lean as it was known then ) ran from Bridge St to
of Hercules Lean, (present day Royal Ave).
1715 - The street was complete and
by then was the home to two Presbyterian churches,
the 1st and 2nd.
The First Presbyterian was founded in 1644 and moved
to a house in Rosemary lean in 1695. The Second Presbyterian
was founded in 1708 and was built to the rear of the
First. It was built to cater for the growing Presbyterian
population of Belfast.
up Rosemary Street towards Royal Avenue
down Rosemary Street towards the Assembly
1717 - The First presbyterian was
1722 - This year saw the opening
of the Third Presbyterian church. This was not caused
by overcrowding but to
a doctrinal dispute within the Presbyterian congregation.
1783 - The Rev Crombie (minister
from 1769 to 1790) rebuilt the First Presbyterian church
some changes to the front made in the 19th century
is the church you see today. There have been 22 ministers
of the First Presbyterian Congregation since the first
session in 1644 and the Present day minister is the
Rev Nigel Playfair, a graduate of Trinity College,
NOTE - The church is open to the public on
and is well worth a visit.
While there ask NORA if
she has any of the excellent little booklets which
the history of the church. This was also the
year of the opening of the first catholic church in
Belfast in Chapel Lane (then Crooked Lane). The
Protestant community of Belfast contributed large sums
of money and moral support to the small catholic congregation.
First Presbyterian Church Today
1784 - One of Belfast's earliest
theatres opened, just opposite the First Presbyterian,
and became known
as the Play-House Gate Theatre, (site of the present
day Donegall Arcade).
1789 - The Second Presbyterian replaces
the 1708 building with a new church, (The congregation
eventually move in 1896 to Elmwood Avenue and the church
was demolished in the 1960s).
1808 - The Street became known as
The Third Presbyterian Church was replaced by a very
impressive building that was
in the 1941 Blitz,
(The Masonic Hall built in 1950-54 exists on the site
Hall, Built on the site of the
to commemorate Henry Joy McCracken
the Masonic Hall
The Third Presbyterian Congregation, though
very strict on Doctrinal matters, was a hotbed of
radicalism in the 18th Century. Henry Joy McCracken,
Sinclair were just two of the many radical Presbyterians
to belong to the 3rd. Presbyterian church. There
is a plaque to Henry Joy McCracken at the entrance
the present day Masonic Hall. The McCracken family
lived just across the road from the church. The First
and Second Presbyterian congregations also had there
share of radicals e.g. William Drennan the man who
thought up the idea of the United Irishmen and the
United Irishmen used to meet in the attic of the
2nd. Presbyterian Church.
1880 - The manse of the Second Presbyterian
Church is demolished and replaced by a building that
still exists today, (nos 45-47 Donaghy and Carey Solicitors).
NOTE - Henry Joy McCracken; William Drennan and
many other United Irishmen are buried in that "Jewel
in the Crown" of graveyards Clifton Street Graveyard.