Sandy Row History

Nov 14, 2010 at 19:50 o\clock

The Other Face of Sandy Row

by: SandyRow   Keywords: Sandy, Row, Shops

The Other Face of Sandy Row

 In the days gone by it was said that you could get anything from a needle to an anchor in Sandy Row, the area was used by all classes and creeds for shopping. Nobody complained of being intimidated by the flying flags or the decoration around the 12th July celebrations. In fact many Roman Catholics came to the Row over the 12th July period to admire the decorating and enjoy the fun that prevailed that day.

 By 1900 there were 127 shops and traders in Sandy Row. The first Department Store was Hewitt Bros.


 Shops whose name were famous throughout Belfast were the Gilpins for furniture,


 Edwards and Cairns both suppliers of fireplaces, Reid’s for shoes, Gordon’s for Clothing, Scott’s for drapery, Browns for drapery, James Johnston the Butcher. Fresh fruit was supplied by Smyth’s and the Tyrone and Perry’s.


 Groceries were supplied by Andersons who were famous for their bacon, Livingstone’s, Joynt cash stores and Le Tastes famous for pies and cooked meats.

Sarah Jane Rosbottom Ulster wallpaper and paint shop. McMillan’s bakery is well known, cloth in hand to get hot soda bread or to Mrs Bairds for butter and stomach cakes. Markey's Pharmacy has been around for 40 years or more, and has sadly been taken over by Gordons Chemist.


 There other institutions for by the Loyal Orders. The following can only be described as Sandy Row Institutions. The Moore family sold Fruit and Vegetables from a handcart on a Saturday.


 Then there was Maggie Moore’s second hand clothes shop on the corner of Rowland Street which had such good quality cast offs that actors and professionals would shop there. It was like a jumble sale when you went in clothes everywhere. It was said if your clothes were wrinkled people used to say did you get them from Maggie Moore?

Being a working class area there were 2 pawnshops Waricks and Allen situated at each end of the row. Regalia Manufacturers by Thompson and Bridgette.

There was Mary McDowell’s Dolls Hospital. You would bring your child’s doll there to be fixed. Her shop used to be on the Grosvenor Road but she moved to Sandy Row. Mary McDowell also made collarets for the orange men. It was said that every man in Sandy row would have a collaret that was made by Mary McDowell.


 On a Saturday night the shops remained open late but the star attraction was cheap John (Bob Monroe). He sold everything from soap to clothes pegs in Blythe Street. He had many a patter one was when he used to wait for the men to come out of the pubs.

He would say “Gentlemen what about a piece offering for the wife some ribbon for her hair only a 6pence. And to the women he would say “Ladies pick up your razors for your men at home, they are not German or William Bloat made.

Linfield Café or the stew shop ran by the mother of the late Billy Helsip still paraded with the District colour party in his eighties. The Sandro Cinema or as it is known locally as The Shack, the manager was a man called James McKeown but as he was the chief chuckerout and he was nicknamed The Sheriff. Rabbie his assistant was nicknamed the Deputy.


 The first Supermarket in Belfast was opened by J.D Bell at the corner of Wellwood Street / Great Victoria Street. McDowell’s corner shop was famous throughout the area, it was in City Street and it was open 24 hrs a day and it never closed.



Nov 13, 2010 at 12:39 o\clock

Buildings in Sandy Row

by: SandyRow   Keywords: Buildings, in, Sandy, Row


Buildings in Sandy Row

The growth of Sandy Row area was due to expansion of the Linen Industry in Rowland Street. Up until this time the Lodges of Sandy Row met in various establishments from church halls, private houses and in rooms above licensed premises.

It was decided that the six lodges should have a permanent home and in the year 1864 it was decided to erect a purpose built Orange Hall the first in the town of Belfast.


 At a meeting in the Ulster Hall to oppose the District Establishment of the church of Ireland the Rev Dr Drew may have somewhat got carried away when he announced that an Orange Hall was to be built at the top end of Sandy Row, that it would be rival to the Ulster Hall. However he recited to loud cheers the oft repeated lines.

Oh Sandy Row! Oh Sandy Row!

My heart is there wherever I go;

The rivers they shall cease to flow Ere I forget thee, Sandy Row.

And Sandy Row pure heart and hand Will stand for Queen and Father Land

The bible and the church we know Will be guarded well in Sandy Row!

These lines were repeated by Johnstone of Ballykilbeg when opening the Hall in 1868. He often recited them at many Orange gatherings in his South Belfast Constituency in his long term as MP for the people of Sandy Row.


He often said it was the actions of the six Lodges of Sandy Row, in the years that the party processions act was in place inspired him to challenge this legislation by Parading with a large number of Orangemen from Newtownards to Bangor in 1867.

This show of strength prompted the Government to have Johnstone imprisoned but this action only made the Brethren more determined to have this law repealed. This was successfully achieved in 1870.

Nov 13, 2010 at 11:49 o\clock

The Naming of The Boyne Bridge

by: SandyRow   Keywords: Boyne, Bridge, Sandy, Row


Attacks on Sandy Row

The naming of the Boyne Bridge

Often the Protestants of the Northern end of Sandy Row were subject to attacks by Roman Catholics who resided in the Pound Loney (The Lower Falls) particularly during days before and after the 12th July.

One such riot was in the year 1856 and a crowd from the Pound attacked Protestants as they left the Christ Church after a Boyne Anniversary Service was held on the Sunday Evening.

Boyne Annivesary Parade 1925

 There was no parade of the Brethren but it was reported in the Roman Catholic press that the sermon of Dr Drew Recector of the church had incensed the people of the Pound.

This statement was ludicrous as it would have been impossible to have read this sermon right outside the church never mind in the Pound. It was made public in the Down Protestant Newspaper on the 17th July 5 days after it was made.

This is surely proof that the MOB gathered in the Pound Loney was intent only in attacking the Orangemen as they left the church. The Roman Catholic MOB swept up Durham Street causing all kinds of carnage on Protestant Houses as they went however the men of “The Row” quickly assembled at the Saltwater Bridge and confronted the MOB and drove them back to the Pound.

 King Willam crossed the Boyne Bridge Here

 As this had taken place at the River crossing just the same as their Forefathers had crossed the Boyne 1690 so from that day on the bridge was named “The Boyne Bridge” When the Salt Water Bridge was replaced in the 1930’s it was officially named “The Boyne Bridge”.


The Boyne Bridge 1930

The rioting went on for over 10 days and in resulted in the Roman Catholic Hierarchy calling for troops to be brought in to contain the Protestants of Sandy Row who were gaining the upper hand.

Dublin Castle responded by sending 6 train loads of troops from the Curragh and two Battalions of troops from England. “Who says history doesn’t repeat itself”. To testify to this event one lodge in Sandy Row L.O.L 1119 changed its name to the Boyne Bridge Defenders.


Nov 12, 2010 at 14:45 o\clock

Sandy Row Arches

by: SandyRow   Keywords: Sandy, Row, Arches

The Arches

It is known that lodges existed in Sandy Row in the early 1800’s and were part of County Antrim Grand Lodge affiliated to Lisburn District.

The Orange tradition or erecting Orange Arches was brought from Rural Ulster, to this area and was lead to a confrontation with Orange brethren of Sandy Row and the authorities of the day.


 In the year 1835 orders from Dublin Castle forbade the erection of the Orange Arches during the 12th Celebrations. “Echo’s of the Parades Commission”

As was their tradition the brethren of the six lodges (1604, 1088,1119,1189,1298 and 1299) of the area decided to erect an Arch over Sandy Row.

The Local Magistrate by the name of Mr Skinner ordered the removal of the Arch as instructed by Dublin Castle.

The Orangemen refused to comply with this instruction. The magistrate then issued orders for the military to remove the arch. This brought a confrontation with the people of the area and the forces of the crown.


 There were Brethren who had assisted the forces of the crown 37 years early to suppress rebellion were now being drawn into confrontation with the authorities who were trying to appease the Roman Catholics led by Dan O’ Connell at that time.

As fast as the military broke down the Arch another one was erected in its place. The commander of a Troop of Calvary the notorious Captain Harvey made numerous charges with his men to rout the Brethren but on each occasion the party of the dragons was repelled.


 A stand off now took place which the town Mayor and other members of the corporation tried to calm matters.

However Mr Skinner proceeded to read the riot act without seeing if a peaceful settlement could be reached by these civic leaders. He gave the order to fire.

At once the Military obeyed. A young serving girl was hit by a musket ball fired by one of troopers she died a few hours later. The girls name was Annie Moore and there is an Orange Ballad called “My Lost Love” which is still sung to this day which relates to this incident.

Up until the early seventies a street existed near the present Orange Hall named “Moore’s Place” also a young man by the name of William Trainer was fatally wounded by the same volley of musket balls and a small number were also wounded but not badly.

Many older people in the area said that this event was why so many Orange Arches were erected in the Sandy Row Area over next century.


Nov 12, 2010 at 14:15 o\clock

The Orange 12th July Parades

Orange Order 12th July Parades 

A conservative estimate put the number of streets erecting Arches in the Greater Sandy Row Area in access of over 40 each 12th July.  The six lodges in Sandy Row marked the 12th July each year by marching to Lisburn.  The six Lodges broke new ground by being the first of the loyal orders to travel by train to a demonstration in 1840.  Even in defiance of the Grand Lodge who urged lodges to break the law by parading.


In the year 1863 the 6 Lodges refused to join the newly formed Belfast County and Elected to remain in the Lisburn District.  The following year Sandy Row Orange men paraded on the 12th July morning to the town centre before catching the train to Lisburn.   


 Many of the leading citizens openly condemned the Brethren and prevailed on Dr Henry Cooke commonly known in Belfast as the (Blackman) to publicly condemn the Sandy Row Orangemen. 

However Cooke turned to the crowd and said “Ladies and Gentlemen you see before you what I can only describe as the Pride of Belfast” and to this day Sandy Row proudly retains the name. 

Each 12th July the District Master approaches the County Grand Master at Carlisle Circus and informs him “County Grand Master the Pride of Belfast is now in position the 12th of July in Belfast can begin”