About Us

The Society was founded in 1821 to promote knowledge in the arts and  sciences and today provides a lecture programme based at the Old Museum Building, as well as a small publications programme.  It also supports research and publications about Ireland and Ulster’s cultural and material environment. The Society is custodian of one of Belfast’s finest neo-classical buildings, The Old Museum, in 7 College Square North and also has connections with the Ulster Museum, where its former collections are housed.  The Society provides a forum for debate on important cultural issues, reflecting the intellectual life of Belfast and Ireland.

Information from Secretary’s Report March 2017/18

The Old Museum Building  

Our two tenants, Kids in Control , a physical theatre company and Ulster Architectural Heritage remain in residence, the latter now into their second year of occupation.

Regarding the future of the OMB, a feasibility study is required as the first step towards winning significant funding; towards this end, UAH  commenced discussions in January 2018  with Heritage Resilience. Preliminary steps involve looking at topics such as governance; outside consultants will be engaged to examine our organisation and make recommendations on how we might need to change in order to become compliant.

Membership of the Society stands at approximately 120 paid up members and a further 80 inactive.

Publications Subcommittee. 

No meeting took place in the previous year.


All lectures take place at 6.30pm in the  Old Museum Building, College Square North,Belfast.


6th September  Mrs Kathyrn Thomson CEO,NMNI : “Museums in 2017 : Defining our Role and Behaviour.”

11th October Emeritus Professor Jim Mallory  :  ”In search of the Irish Dreamtime”.

8th November Dr Gerry Cleary :  ” Belfast-The Irish Chicago: the phenomenal growth of Belfast in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras (1840-1910)”.

6th December Professor Ignatius McGovern   : ” A Mystic Dream of 4: poetic biography of William Rowan Hamilton”.


3rd January  Patrick Speight: ” The Irish in Argentina “.

7th February  Mr Martyn Anglesea : “Kenneth Shoesmith”.

7th March  Dr Cormac Bourke: “Early Irish hand-bells;making, using , keeping “.

11th April  Professor Don McCloy: “Going to school in Victorian Belfast “.

We are grateful to Mr Anglesea for stepping in at short notice following the sad sudden death of Ms Nicola Gordon Bowe.


May Outings 2018

2nd May : Historical bus tour of Plantation Ulster

19th May : Visits to Carrickfergus museums

Other events 

Promoted by the NIScience Festival, we hosted two lectures: Society member Emeritus Professor Andrew Whitaker spoke on John Stewart Bell, A Great Belfast Physicist of our Time on Saturday 17th February 2018. This was followed by Spinning, Stalling and Falling Apart-Flight and World War 1,  a lecture given on Saturday 24th February by Tony Royle; our other partner for this second event was the British Society for the History of Mathematics


The Society has agreed not to offer any further grants until the future of the building is secured.


Rosana Trainor, Honorary Secretary October  2018