Work began on the new Ormeau Bridge in 1815 and was completed by 1818 or 1822. The bridge was demolished as unusable however and was not fully rebuilt until 1863. The Lagan forms the boundary between County Antrim, encompassing the inner-city districts, and County Down, lying to the south-east.

The land for Ormeau Park was formerly part of the Donegall family estate who moved to Ormeau Cottage in Ormeau Demense from their town house in Donegall Place in 1807. The building was extended by George Chichester, 2nd Marquess of Donegall, who lived there until his death in 1844. Eventually the family was forced to sell the estate to pay its spiralling debt and in 1869, all of the 175 acres was leased to Belfast Corporation at £10 per acre for 2000 years and it was opened as a park to the public in 1871. The opening of Belfast’s first public park was marked with a parade from Carlisle Circus through Belfast which attracted a large crowd and finished with speeches in the park. The Agricultural Association of Ireland held its annual cattle show here in 1872. The embankment road cut off the river frontage of the park in the 1920s.

The Ulster Cricket Ground was the home of The Ulster Cricket Club (now Ulidia Playing Fields – home of Rosario FC). It was opened in 1879 and ceased to be in 1953. The Ulster Football Club based in Ulidia was initially founded in 1877 as a rugby club, but later switched codes to association football. It was subsequently a founding member of the Irish Football League in 1890. On 24th October 1878 the club hosted a demonstration game between two Scottish Football Association teams – Queen’s Park and Caledonians. This game is recognised as the first association football game to be played in Ireland. Queens Park won the football match 3-2. The match was organised by Belfast merchant, John McAlery, who went on to form the first football club in Ireland – Cliftonville in 1879. During the 1880s and early 1890s, both Ulster and its home ground played a prominent role in the early history of association football in Ireland. Ulster reached the Irish Cup final on three occasions, winning the competition in 1887 after defeating Cliftonville 3-0 in the final.[3] Ulster finished as league runners-up during its first two seasons, 1890-91 and 1891-92. The club was a member of the Irish League for six seasons in total: four between 1890 and 1894 and two from 1901 to 1903.[4] During the 1880s, the UCG also hosted several Irish Cup finals and Ireland international games. The club later switched back to rugby and continued playing into the 1930s. There was a tram terminal on the Ormeau Road outside the UCG and the trams had a “UCG” sign. The Pavilion opened in 1899 and as the name suggests, the “Big House” was entwined with the fortunes of the Ulster Cricket Club with its fantastic views over the playing fields.

Landmark buildings on the Ormeau Road include St. Jude’s Church opening in 1873; Ormeau Bakery in 1877; Ballynafeigh Orange Hall in 1887; Telephone Exchange built sometime between 1930-1935; Curzon Cinema in 1936 (closed 1999, demolished 2003, Curzon apartments built 2008).


Owners Timeline:

  • 1887-96: First owner of Abercorn Arms (18?? first mentioned in 1890 directory) called Francis McGlade (died 1896)
  • 1896: Sold from Francis McGlade to Patrick P. McGlade (the Pavilion opened on 19th August 1899)
  • 1902: Mortgage lease- Patrick McGlade to Henry Toner
  • 1914: Sold from Patrick McGlade to Henry Toner
  • 1917: Henry Toner dies
  • 1918: Sold from John Henry Toner (son) to Robert Deignan Esq and Martin Bell
  • 1919: Sold from Robert Deignan Esq to Martin Bell
  • 1942: Sold from John Bell to Sarah Bell
  • 1945: Sold from Sarah Bell to Stewart Livingstone
  • 1951: Sold from Stewart Livingstone to Harry and Eddie Keenan
  • 1990: Sold from Harry and Eddie Keenan to Harry Diamond
  • 1996: Sold from Harry Diamond to Lavery Ltd (23rd July 1996)

McGlade’s: 1899-1914

Francis and Patrick P. McGlade were wholesale grocer, wine and spirit merchants who had bottling establishments and spirit-grocer shops, bars and hotels in Cromac Street; Corporation Square; Peter’s Hill; Smithfield; Castle Street; Castlereagh Street; Liscard Terrace (at junction of Ormeau Road/University Street); The Bambridge Hotel in Sugarhouse Entry (destroyed in the blitz in 1941); The Arcade in Donegall Street (now The Kremlin); The International and Hotel Metropole both in York Street; billiards rooms, stores and general offices in Donegall Street Little; Queen Cafe, Queen’s Arcade. Frank lived in Avonrath House in Adelaide Park Malone and Pat lived in Laurel Villa 22 Rosetta Park.

McGlades Bar in Donegall Street closed after an accidental fire in 1983.

Toner’s: 1914-1918 (leased 1902-1914)

Henry Toner (son of John Toner and Ellen McGlade) was born on 22nd July 1855 in Strawmore, Ballynascreen, Draperstown, County Derry and died on 19th September 1917 in 244 Ormeau Road (The Pavilion). Henry bought The Pavilion from his father-in-law Patrick P. McGlade in 1914. He married Isabella Jane Mooney (daughter of James Mooney and Mary Savage) on 3rd November 1884 in Ballinderry Chapel, Aghalee, Lurgan and during the next eleven years they had nine children- five girls and one boy (three died in infancy). Their only son, John, took ownership of The Pavilion after his father’s death. He was born on 14th October 1893 in 244 Ormeau Road (later to become The Pavilion) and died on 11th August 1956 in 1 Fruithill Park, Andersonstown and is buried in Milltown Cemetery.

*Born in 244 Ormeau Road (later to become The Pavilion) in 1893 before his father Henry took a mortgage lease in 1902. What was built on land before?

Henry Toner Publican 133 Ormeau Road and residence in 145 Ormeau Road (1897 Directory)

Bell’s: 1918-1945

Martin, John, Sarah Bell. Also, Robert Deignan Esq 1918-1919 (financier maybe?)

Livingstone’s: 1945-1951

Stewart Livingstone

Keenan’s: 1951-1990

Harry and Eddie were from a family of twelve- five sons and five daughters- from Ballybay, County Monaghan. Harry came to Belfast after the war and worked in Robinsons Bar, Great Victoria Street. In 1949, he bought The White Lion (?) in York Street. In 1951, he sold The White Lion and together with the financial help of a brother-in-law called Mick Mooney, the two brothers purchased “The Pavilion Hotel” as it was known then. The top floor had been used as accommodation for hotel guests- thirteen partitioned bedrooms, a lounge room, kitchen and a bathroom, although the Keenans only used this floor for storage space. In fact, up until the start of The Troubles, Ballynafeigh Orange Lodge stored their equipment there. The original middle floor was nicknamed “The Coffin Bar” due to the shape of the centrally located bar which was made out of timber from an old disused ship. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Keenan children and their friends played tennis on a makeshift court on the flat felt roof of The Pavilion complete with netting around the four walls to catch stray balls! Harry also bought and sold The Admiral Bar, Oldpark Road (1965-68). In 1968, The Pavilion was damaged by a fire which was inadvertently ignited by night-burglars who tried to blow open the safe. In 1976, Harry’s daughter, Vera, became the first woman to work in (or even be allowed into) the Public Bar. After forty years of ownership, they sold the bar because the Sunday opening licensing laws changed and they didn’t want to work on Sundays.

Diamond’s: 1990-1996

Harry Diamond (Provincial Pubs)

Lavery’s: 1996-present

Lavery Ltd


It is rumoured that The Pavilion was once nicknamed the “Home Rule House” because its clientele were mostly Protestant who favoured home-rule. As far as anyone can remember, it has always been nicknamed “The Big House” simply because it is the tallest building on the Ormeau Road.

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