Ormeau Road

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Coordinates: 54°35′42″N 5°55′23″W / 54.595°N 5.923°W / 54.595; -5.923

Ormeau Road, May 2010

The Ormeau Road is a road in south Belfast, Northern Ireland. Ormeau Park is adjacent to it. It forms part of the A24.

History[edit]

Having previously been the home of George Chichester, 2nd Marquess of Donegall, a road was first built in 1815, when it was known more commonly as the New Ballynafeigh Road before eventually taking on the name of the Ormeau Park. (The Ravenhill Road used to be the Old Ballynafeigh Road.)[1]

Areas of the Ormeau Road[edit]

Start of the road[edit]

Gasworks from Cromac Street, October 2010

The area at the start of the Ormeau Road is not known by a single name but contains a number of features. Close to the Markets is the Belfast Gasworks, built between 1887 and 1893 by such leading Belfast industrialists as Robert Watt, James Stelfox and John Lanyon. It remained open for its original purpose until 1988.[2] The area has been substantially redeveloped under the Laganside Corporation and now includes a number of office buildings for companies such as Halifax[3] The Gasworks is also home to the Radisson Blu Hotel Belfast.

Loyalist Donegall Pass, 1981

Donegall Pass faces the Gasworks and represents a loyalist interface with the Markets and Lower Ormeau. It leads on to the Donegall Road. From 2004 onwards Donegall Pass has been the location of for many racist attacks on Chinese and Polish communities who have settled in the area. Combating this growth has been one of the areas of concern of the Donegall Pass Community Forum, founded in 1996.[4] It is the only residential area of this part of the Ormeau Road.

Other features include the headquarters of UTV plc, Havelock House, which has been situated beside Donegall Pass since the station first went on air in October 1959.[5] The headquarters of Belfast CityBeat are situated very close to Havelock House, just over the Havelock Bridge (which crosses the main Belfast to Dublin railway line which runs under the Ormeau Road).

Sinn Féin South Belfast office, Lower Ormeau Road

The Ormeau road between Donegall Pass and the Ormeau bridge includes the Belfast South constituency offices of both Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) who hold the South Belfast seat at Westminster.

The Rose and Crown pub on the Lower Ormeau Road, where six civilians were killed by a UVF bomb in May 1974

This part of the Ormeau Road suffered a number of attacks during the Troubles when both Protestant and Catholic residents were killed.

In the mid 1990s the Ormeau Road became associated with political controversy as a result of parades by bands from Ballynafeigh Orange Lodge. As well as the general opposition of the community to the parades, claims were also made that members of the Lodge had demonstrated triumphalism over the murder of five men in Sean Graham's bookmakers by the UDA.[6]

In 1996, the dispute spilled over into conflict between the Lower Ormeau Residents' Action Group and the Royal Ulster Constabulary after widespread rioting led the police to effectively seal off the area for two days.[7] The Parades Commission initially supported the marchers in the dispute[8] although since 1999 parades have been banned from the area, even leading to the Orange Order briefly using the Ormeau Park as its meeting place instead of Edenderry.[9]

Until 1999, the North of Ireland Cricket and Football Club's home stadium – one of the earliest international rugby venues in Ireland[10] – was in the area, although, following a series of perceived sectarian arson attacks,[11] the club's merger into the Belfast Harlequins has seen the demolition of the stadium, which has been redeveloped as housing, known as Lavinia Square and Mews.[12]

The Holyland, an area mainly inhabited by students from Queen's University Belfast, faces this area on the western side of the road.

Above the Bridge[edit]

Ormeau Bridge, May 2010

A number of local buildings and services, such the Community Development Association,[13] the Post Office and the Orange Hall, use the name Ballynafeigh after the electoral ward, although the wider (and older) townland of Ballynafeigh also includes much of the lower Ormeau and Holyland. The Ormeau Bridge is a significant part of the architecture and history of the wider area. Work began on the bridge in 1815 and was completed by 1818 or 1822. The bridge was demolished as unusable however and was not fully rebuilt until 1863.[1] The Lagan forms the boundary between County Antrim, encompassing the inner-city districts, and County Down, lying to the south-east.

Entrance gates to the Ormeau Park, 2009

Ormeau Park is the city's oldest municipal park, dating back to 1871 and stretches from the Ormeau Road to the Ravenhill Road. It is also the home of Ormeau Golf Club. Outside the Park a cycle path has been added to the road.[14] The park was considered as an alternative venue for a new multi-purpose sports stadium, although First Minister Ian Paisley vetoed the plans.[15] Ormeau Park originally extended beyond its present Southern border taking in, what is now, Park Road, North Parade and South Parade. The original stone wall still exists and runs along the rear entry of the houses on the south side of the houses of South Parade. The wall can be seen where the entry opens out onto the Ormeau Road.

Ormeau Park has been used for all sorts of social and communal gatherings from the start of the twentieth century. It was the scene of the first meeting of the Ulster Vanguard on 18 March 1972 when William Craig called on his followers to attend following his decision to leave the Ulster Unionist Party. Joined by an estimated 100,000 followers Craig made a controversial speech in which he stated that "we must build up a dossier of the men and women who are a menace to this country because if and when the politicians fail us, it may be our job to liquidate the enemy".[16]

Redeveloped Ormeau Bakery, October 2010

Ormeau Bakery was the home of Ormo bread, formerly the largest independent bakery in Ireland. Robert Wilson set up the Ormeau Bakery in 1875, revolutionising the way that bread was made and distributed.[citation needed] At one time, the Ormeau Bakery owned two dairy farms in Northern Ireland and a flour mill in Malta.[citation needed] The Bakery buildings were opened by Robert Wilson in 1890 and thrived under three generations of the Wilson family, the exterior of the building changing little over the years.[citation needed] The company celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2002 but was then bought out by Mother's Pride, leading to a closing of the site.[17] The bakery has been redeveloped as upmarket, luxury apartments with roof gardens and other decorative touches according to designs by Diarmuid Gavin.[18]

Cooke Centenary Church, a Presbyterian place of worship that faces the Bakery, is unique on the road as having no number in its postal address being simply Ormeau Park, Belfast.[1]

Ballynafeigh Orange Lodge, 2009

Ballynafeigh Orange Lodge is situated on the Ormeau Road and is the main centre for Orangeism in the area. The Lodge was formed in 1887 according to the plaque above the door. An Apprentice Boys of Derry flute band is affiliated to the Lodge.[19]

South of the Roundabout[edit]

Encompassing the areas of Rosetta and Galwally, this part of the Ormeau is a largely middle class area. It is served by local schools including Holy Rosary Primary School, St. Michael's Primary School, Rosetta Primary School, Wellington College,[20] Aquinas Grammar School[21] and St Joseph's College[22] (the latter having been formed in September 1992 by the amalgamation of St Monica's girls' school and St Augustine's boys' school).

The area is also home to the Rosario Youth Club, whose senior soccer team Rosario YC F.C. play in Division 1A of the Northern Amateur Football League. The club's teams, which compete in a number of age groups, are based at the Ulidia playing fields, opposite Ballynafeigh Orange Hall.[23]

Bredagh GAC, a local Gaelic Athletic Association club, play in the nearby Cherryvale Playing Fields on the Ravenhill Road.[24]

The Gate Lodge, a historic building within the grounds of the Good Shepherd Church at the Ormeau/Ravenhill Road roundabout, restored in 2009, is now home to the Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust.[25]

Geography[edit]

The Ormeau Road begins with the merger of Cromac Street and Ormeau Avenue (which contains the headquarters of the BBC in Northern Ireland. The road continues to Church Road where it merges into the Saintfield Road.

Politics[edit]

Ormeau Road is part of the Belfast South and has Alasdair McDonnell of the Social Democratic and Labour Party as its Member of Parliament. The area is represented in the Northern Ireland Assembly by Claire Hanna, Anna Lo, Alex Maskey, Michael McGimpsey and Emma Pengelly.

Within Belfast City Council it is part of the Laganbank area which is represented by Pat McCarthy and Kathleen Mullan of the SDLP and Christopher Stalford of the Democratic Unionist Party, Catherine Curran of the Alliance Party and Deirdre Hargey of Sinn Féin.[26] The area formerly lent its name to the Belfast Ormeau Parliament constituency which was represented by Thomas Moles from 1918 to 1922.

See also[edit]

References[edit]