The complex was developed by the CatholicRedemptorists religious order. Members of this religious order came to Belfast originally in 1896. They initially built a small tin church in the grounds of Clonard House in 1897. In 1890 a monastery was opened in these grounds and in 1911 the Church of the Holy Redeemer opened in the grounds and replaced the tin church.
Clonard is also used as a music venue for many festivals in the city, most notably Féile an Phobail and holds an annual Novena which attracts over 100,000 tourists, Catholic and Protestant, from Ireland and Europe every year.
The Northern Ireland peacemaker Father Alec Reid lived here.