The Ulster Hall

There’s a wonderfully evocative piece about the much loved Ulster Hall by Fionnnuala O’Connor in today’s Irish Times (subs req.). I have my own fond memories – as I’m sure do many other Sluggers – many of which, happily, are not fit for publication!

Here’s a flavour…

“Boxing matches, wrestling, Prof Crocker and his Performing Equine School, the Dalai Lama, the Clancy Brothers: all human life has poured through the hall’s (hitherto) dark doorway. The dying Parnell, crushed by the O’Shea scandal, addressed a rally in Ulster Hall when the Catholic bishops refused him St Mary’s Hall – stooped and frail, said the editor of the Northern Whig, speaking hoarsely to a diminished band of supporters.

Yet the most vivid and lasting association until recent years was undoubtedly with unionism in various forms.

At the eve-of-Covenant rally in 1912, Edward Carson was presented with the yellow silk banner said to have been carried at the Boyne. “May this flag ever float over a people that can boast of civil and religious liberty!” Carson declaimed to great applause. “Suspiciously fresh looking flag,” sniffed the Irish News. James Craig, first prime minister of Northern Ireland, told a rally in the Ulster Hall nine days after the state came into existence that he “would never bow the knee to treachery or allow a whisper of ‘Republic’ to enter my thoughts”.

In the 1960s a young orator called Ian Paisley held packed Ulster Hall rallies that evoked the solemnity of the Covenant and the passions that surrounded partition. Students both Catholic and Protestant went along for amusement, but found, as one still remembers, that laughing out loud meant “you were frog-marched out in seconds – you wouldn’t have dreamed of heckling”.”Irish Times (subs needed)

  • P Ring

    The Clash, The Ramones, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, meeting John Peel and giving him a request for me and my mates that was read out on his show, various local ‘new wave’ festivals…
    The Ulster Hall. Fond memories.

  • You can’t forget the Group Theatre too. My last venture there was to a BBC comedy recording. There were as many famous faces in the audieinc as up on stage. Help! I’m starting to sound like an ageing expat hoping to come home before I die.

  • Mick Fealty

    Horslips, The Stranglers, UB40 and more recently (and on a press ticket I might emphasis) the shortest set in christendom from the Corrs.

  • Declan

    The Ulster Hall was also host to the first airing of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, on March 5th, 1971. The band were one of the few to play in Belfast in the early years of the Troubles. On the way to the gig the band inadvertently drove into the middle of a stone-throwing, Molotov-cocktail wielding mob. A bottle of Jameson was quickly consumed to calm their nerves en route by car to Dublin for the next night’s gig.

  • George

    Boxing is all I know the Ulster Hall for but that’s enough for me.

  • Dualta

    My first gig was Def Leppard in 1984 in the Ulster Hall. I saw Metallica there too, and many, many more. Fine days indeed. I had hair back then…………..

  • Weapons of Crass Instruction

    The Stranglers, The Clash, Rudi, The Outcasts, Rufrex, The Undertones, SLF, Siouxie & The Banshees, The Ramones, UK Subs, The Pogues New Years part, [Christ what a gig], The Housemartins, Big Audio Dynamite…..

    Ah yes, The Ulster Hall. Where my musical tastes and personality were formulated. [Breaks down in melancholic stupor and weeps].

  • Mark

    Therapy? are probably the highlight for me, although I’ve also seen Motorhead, Rancid, Ash, Megadeth (cringe), Placebo and probably a lot more I have forgotten about there. Good venue, always has a great sound.

  • Baluba

    Ahh…The Frames!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The Lush

    What ever happened Therapy ?

  • Mal one

    I have been to many but I can only remember Led Zep and Rory. He would bounce onto that stage with the stratocaster, lumberjack shirt, sneakers! and unfashionable jeans (guitar looking as if someone had taken a blow torch to it) and such was his enthusiasm he could’nt wait to finish one song before he started the next. The “Irish Tour” DVD is a really good momento of those times if you can still get it.