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Lisburn ( ) is the third-largest city in Northern Irelandmarker. It is situated south-west of Belfastmarker on the River Laganmarker, which forms the boundary between County Antrim and County Down. It had a population of 71,465 people in the 2001 Census.

Formerly a borough, Lisburn was granted city status in 2002 as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee celebrations.


The city was originally known as Lisnagarvey ( ). However, after a large fire destroyed much of the city centre in 1707, it was renamed Lisburn. The original name is still used in the titles of some local schools and sports teams.


Lisburn Market House - now forming part of the Irish Linen Centre/Lisburn Museum

Lisburn's original site was located on what is now known as Hill Street Estate, on a hill above the River Laganmarker. There was also a fort located at the north side of what is now known as Wallace Park. In 1611 James I granted Sir Fulke Conway the lands of Killultagh in south west County Antrim. During the 1620s the original streets of Lisburn as we know it today were laid out, Market Square, Bridge Street, Castle Street and Bow Street. Sir Fulke Conway brought over many English and Welsh settlers during the Ulster Plantation. He built a manor house on what is now Castle Gardens and in 1623 he built a church on the site of the current cathedral. The Manor House was destroyed in the accidental fire of 1707 and was never rebuilt.

Negotiations preceding the American War of Independence between Ben Franklin and Lord Hillsborough took place at Hillsboroughmarker.

Lisburn is also known as the birthplace of Ireland's linen industry, which was established in 1698 by Louis Crommelin and other Huguenots. An exhibition about the Irish linen industry is now housed in the Irish Linen Centre, which can be found in the town’s old Market House in Market Square.

Lisburn is one of the constituent cities that makes up the Dublin-Belfast corridor region which has a population of just under 3 million.

The Troubles

The Cold War

Between 1954 and 1992 Lisburn contained the operational headquarters of No 31 Belfast Group Royal Observer Corps who operated from a protected nuclear bunker on Knox Road within Thiepval Barracks. Converted from a 1940s Anti-aircraft Operations Room (AAOR) the bunker would support over one hundred ROC volunteers and a ten man United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation warning team responsible for the famous Four-minute warning in the event of a nuclear strike on the UK. The ROC would also have detected radioactive fallout from the nuclear bursts and warned the public of approaching fallout.

The two organisations were stood down in 1992 at the end of the Cold War. In 2007 a commemorative plaque was mounted on the wall of the nuclear bunker which still stands, marking the volunteer service of ROC volunteers all over the Province. The well known BBC newsreader, TV personality and steam railway enthusiast Sullivan Boomer was an Observer Commander in the ROC and served as Group Commandant of the Belfast group during the 1970s and 1980s.


Lisburn is the administrative centre of the Lisburn City Council area, which also includes Hillsboroughmarker, Moiramarker, Dromaramarker, Glenavymarker, Dunmurrymarker and Drumbomarker.

In elections for the Westminster Parliamentmarker the city falls mainly into the Lagan Valley constituency but partly into West Belfast.

The headquarters of the British Army in Northern Ireland at Thiepval Barracksmarker and the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade are located in the city.

Demographics and education


Lisburn Urban Area is within Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area (BMUA)and is classified as a Large Town by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (ie with population between 18,000 and 75,000 people). On census day (29 April, 2001) there were 71,465 people living in Lisburn. Of these:
  • 25.4% were aged under 16 years and 15.6% were aged 60 and over.
  • 52.1% were female and 47.9% were male.
  • 54.2% were from a Protestant background and 41.7% were from a Catholic background.
  • 4.0% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

  • Central Primary School
  • Tonagh Primary School
  • Largymore Primary School
  • St. Aloysius Primary School
  • Killowen Primary School
  • Ballymacash Primary School
  • Brownlee Primary School
  • Forthill Primary School
  • Harmony Hill Primary School
  • St. Joseph's Primary School


Lisburn is notable for its large number of churches, with 134 churches listed in the Lisburn City Council area. One of two cathedrals in the Church of Ireland Diocese of Connor is in Lisburn, Christ Church Cathedral.


  • The city is served by a variety of bus routes to Belfastmarker city centre via the Lisburn Road (523/4/5) and also the Falls Road (530/1/2). There are also routes passing through the city heading for Banbridgemarker or Newrymarker (service 38) and Craigavonmarker (service 51). There are few buses that access Belfast using the M1 motorway, adding to the popularity of the train.

  • The city has a vast network of local buses, serving the local housing developments and amenities.

  • A new 'Bus Centre' opened on 30 June 2008 at the corner of Smithfield Street and the Hillsborough Road. The new structure replaces the simple shelters at Smithfield Square, 200 yards to the east.


The local area code, like the rest of Northern Irelandmarker is 028. However all local 8-digit subscriber numbers are found in the form 92xx-xxxx. Before the Big Number Change in 2000, the STD code for Lisburn and its surrounding area was 01846.

Health care

The main hospital in the city is the Lagan Valley Hospitalmarker, which provides Accident and Emergency services to the area. The hospital lost its acute services in 2006 and is set to lose maternity services in 2009. Residents now must travel to Belfastmarker for acute surgery. Primary care in the area is provided by the Lisburn Health Centre, which opened in 1977.The city lies within the South Eastern Health and Social Care Board area, formerly known as Down and Lisburn Trust.


  • Lisburn Distillery is an association football (soccer) club playing in the Irish Premier League. The club, founded in 1879, originated in West Belfast, where it was based at Distillery Street off Grosvenor Road until 1971. After sharing Skegoneill Avenue (Brantwood FC) and Seaview (Crusaders FC) for some years the club again moved in 1980 to New Grosvenor Stadium, Ballyskeagh, near Dunmurrymarker on the outskirts of the city. The club was known as 'Distillery' until 1999, when it changed its name to 'Lisburn Distillery' in an attempt to associate itself more closely with its adopted borough of Lisburn. The club's colours are all white, and the current manager is Paul Kirk. Despite the change in name, Belfast clubs Glentoran and Linfield remain more popular with the population of Lisburn.
  • Lisburn Basketball Club
  • Lisburn Cricket Club
  • Lisburn Racquets Club
  • St. Patrick's GAAmarker


Sir Richard Wallace made quite an impact on Lisburn. His bequests include the Wallace Parkmarker and Wallace High Schoolmarker. In 1872 he donated drinking fountains, known as Wallace fountains, two of which can still be seen near the cricket pitch in Wallace Park, another in front of Lisburn Linen Museum in Bow Street and another in Castle Gardens. Wallace was created baronet in 1871 and was Member of Parliament for Lisburn from 1873 to 1885. Super-middleweight boxer Brian Magee is from Lisburn.

Renowned linguist, academic and author David Crystal OBE was born in Lisburn in 1941.

See also


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