Roger Mulholland

Belfast’s first architect, Mulholland also helped to found the Linen Hall Library

The architect Roger Mulholland, responsible for much speculative building during Belfast’s late Georgian boom, appears to have been born in or near Derry in 1740, and to have taken the trade of carpenter.

He is first described as an ‘architect’ only in 1786. By 1770 he owned a house at 12 Castle Street in Belfast, and married the Belfast woman, Jane Russell. He also owned a modest villa called 'Cromack Lodge' not far from present day Donegall Pass.

Mulholland was a member of the 1780s Belfast liberal mercantile class. Politically, he was entered in a 1781 list of members of the 1st Company of the Belfast Volunteers as a ‘Very Bad Attender’. He was also the fourth signatory of the list of founders of the Linen Hall Library, to which he presented a collection of the architectural work, Vitruvius Britannicus.

Mulholland’s property development in the 1780s and 90s depended on the patronage of the fifth Earl Donegall, landlord of Belfast, who was prepared to lease land at attractive rates.

Mulholland’s most significant buildings include the still standing First Presbyterian Church on Rosemary Street (1783), three large houses at Donegall Place which survived into the 1970s, the House of Correction which once stood opposite today’s Grand Opera House, and, probably, the White Linen Hall of 1785.

Mullholland died in his Castle Street property in 1818.

Further Reading:
Roger Mulholland, Architect (1976), by CEB Brett.

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