Linen Hall Library
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The Linen Hall Library is a truly unique institution.
The Linen Hall Library is a truly unique institution. Founded in 1788, it is the oldest library in Belfast and the last subscribing library in Ireland.
It is renowned for its unparalleled Irish and Local Studies Collection, ranging from comprehensive holdings of Early Belfast and Ulster printed books to the 250,000 items in the Northern Ireland Political Collection, the definitive archive of the recent troubles.
The Library also boasts the Northern Ireland Theatre and Performing Arts Archive, a unique collection reflecting our rich cultural heritage.
The Linen Hall has an illustrious profile as a centre of cultural and creative life and offers a varied programme of events ranging from monthly exhibitions to readings and lectures.
The Linen Hall Library is home to a unique collection of books by and about CS Lewis. The collection, donated by the CS Lewis Association of Ireland, is a first for Northern Ireland and is a fitting tribute to one of Belfast’s most famous literary figures.
All visitors are welcome to access their collections, and staff are always on hand to help. Admission to the Library is free, but donations from visitors are needed to support the Library's work.
The licensed Coffee House is open for light refreshments. They offer a range of specialty freshly roasted coffees, high quality sandwiches, soups, stew, salads, paninis, baked potatoes, and a range of puddings and pastries.
The shop at the Linen Hall stocks an impressive range of books, prints and gifts. Every purchase benefits the Library. If you are unable to visit the shop in person, you can order Linen Hall products by phone on 028 9032 1707.
Full disabled access and facilities (via Fountain Street entrance). Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs for deaf people are welcome. A loop induction system is available in the Performance Area on Level 3.
Erected at the Library is an Ulster History Circle Blue Plaque dedicated to United Irishman Thomas Russell 1767 - 1803. Russell was Librarian from 1794-1796. By 1796 he was the commander of the United Irishmen in Co.Down. He was eventually arrested, brought to Downpatrick Gaol and tried for high treason. He was hanged and then beheaded at the gate of the gaol.
The Linen Hall Library has set up a new charity shop as a fundraising venture. The shop is located in the retail unit next to the Library’s Fountain Street entrance. Books, prints, maps, CD’s, DVD’s, and a wide variety of miscellaneous items are available to purchase. The shop also accepts donations. Opening hours are: Tuesday to Friday 10am – 4.30pm and Saturday 10am – 3.30pm.
A general tour will last for 1 - 1.5 hours. A maximum of 20 people can be taken on the tour.
The tour begins in the General Library area with a brief introductory talk on the on the context of the Library's foundation and early history. This covers temporary location in Ann Street, the move into rooms under the clock tower in the White Linen Hall and reasons for vacating those into present 1860 premises coincidentally a former linen warehouse’.
Download our 2014 leaflet for details of all our tours (including themed tours, available on request) and genealogy workshops.