Linenhall Library

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One of Belfast’s hidden treasures, the Linen Hall Library is the oldest library in Belfast and the last subscribing library in Ireland. It was founded on 13 May, 1788 as the Belfast Reading Society by a group of Presbyterian artisans, whose aim was to ‘excite a spirit of general enquiry … for the promotion of knowledge in the city of Belfast and its neighbourhood’. By 1791, the city’s mercantile class had joined the library and in 1792 the name was changed to Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge, which more splendidly explained what they were about.

In 1802 the Society secured its first permanent premises in rooms of the White Linen Hall. However, in 1888, when the White Linen Hall was demolished to make way for Belfast’s present day City Hall, the Library moved to its present building at 17–19 Donegall Square North. Completed in 1864, the building was originally a linen warehouse for the firm of Moore and Weinberg.

Today, as well as housing one of the most renowned collections of Irish material, the Linen Hall Library is home to the largest collection of Robert Burns material in the world outside Scotland.


17 Donegall Square North, Belfast, BT1 5GB

0044 28 9032 1707