Linen Hall Library Celebrates 225th Birthday

Belfast's oldest library celebrates its 225th birthday with a concert at the Ulster Hall on May 13, featuring a new composition by Neil Martin

On Monday, May 13 at 7.45pm, 225 performers will gather at the Ulster Hall to convey the history and significance of the Linen Hall Library over the past 225 years.

The evening will be a musical and literary extravaganza, with classical and modern pieces, featuring the world premiere of The Great and First Object, composed by Martin to celebrate the library's birthday. Words will be written and spoken by Glenn Patterson, whose inspiration is drawn from the minutes and archives of the Linen Hall Library.

The line up of performers also includes internationally known soprano Aoife Miskelly, award-winning harpist Richard Allen and organist, Joe McKee. The Ulster Orchestra will be conducted by David Brophy, Principal Conductor of the RTE Concert Orchestra, and will perform music by Bunting, Copland, Glass, Mozart and others.

In another first for the evening, choirs from four local schools – Carrickfergus Grammar, Carrickfergus College, St Malachy’s College and Sullivan Upper – will sing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 ‘Choral’ (finale), ‘Ode to Joy’. This marks the first time in Northern Ireland that a multi-school choir has performed this musically challenging piece.

'To heck with the pressures of the world,' said Martin, who regularly performs at LHL events. 'The May 13 event is a moment to forget the stresses and strains of our current climate and celebrate one of Northern Ireland’s most precious cultural treasures.'

Founded in 1788, the Linen Hall Library is the oldest library in Belfast, and the last subscribing library in Ireland. It began life as the Belfast Reading Society, and houses internationally renowned collections including the Irish and Local Studies Collection

Julie Andrews, Director of the Linen Hall Library, adds: 'The fact that so many performers of international standing are keen to participate in this celebration underlines how very special the Linen Hall Library is.'

The library will also be hosting a Gala Dinner In Belfast City Hall on Saturday, May 11 at 7pm to celebrate the 225th anniversary, featuring the Melo String Quartet. £100 (£90 members) or purchase a table of ten seats for £1,000 (£900 members), including a four-course meal with wine.

Tickets for the event cost £20. To book go to or telephone 028 9033 4400. For more information visit the Linen Hall Library website.