Visiting Lisburn, Northern Ireland, and the Market House: gracious, 18th century structure, now a museum
Fine piece of architectural heritage in a city in its own right
Market House is a gracious, early eighteenth century structure in the Downtown area of Lisburn, in Northern Ireland's County Antrim (1).
Some history and features
Some parts of the building are thought to be older than the 18th century, although because of a fire which consumed much of the immediate vicinity in 1707, some uncertainty remains regarding what was built subsequently and what may have been a rebuilding of an existing structure from the previous century.
The lines of the building exhibit frequent arching. A leading feature of the Market House is the four-sided pillared tower with a cupola.
Today, the building houses the Irish Linen Centre, and the town's museum. The linen industry was introduced to Ireland by Huguenots fleeing from persecution in France; and the skill and tenacity of these merchants brought prosperity to various areas of the country. A leading Huguenot weaver was Louis Crommelin, who played a significant rôle in expanding the weaving industry. A working handloom may sometimes be seen in operation at the museum. As well as the Linen Centre's permanently displayed artifacts, the museum also organizes travelling exhibitions in order to publicize the heritage of the linen industry. The museum also has a shop, from where many examples of craftsmanship may be purchased: these include table linen, cloths and napkins.
The Market House could, in my view, easily fit into Georgian Dublin. Its gracious lines remind me of the various fine edifices in Ireland's historic capital which date from the 18th century; and the tower with its cupola particularly bring to mind the similar tower at Dublin's Castle. Ireland truly has a well-established wealth of fine architecture and the Market House at Lisburn — designated a City in 2002 — is a worthy example of that distinguished heritage.
July 9, 2012
(1) Part of the wider City boundaries are also in County Down.
Also worth seeing
In Lisburn itself, Christ Church Cathedral, with its prominent spire, is, with the Market House, a major landmark of the Downtown area.
In Belfast , (distance: 15 kilometres) noted sights include: Belfast Castle; Belfast City Hall; the Albert Memorial Clock Tower; the ornate Belfast Technical College; the Harbour Commissioners' building; Church House, Queen's University Main Building; and many others.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Belfast International Airport, at Aldergrove, where car rental is available. Northern Rail operates a service between Belfast Central Station and Lisburn . Please note that facilities mentioned may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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