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 2016/17

The Old Museum Building  

We welcomed a new tenant to the Old Museum in January 2017 , the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. UAHS funded the redecoration, installation of heat, computer facilities & so forth in the library and adjoining room, as well as the public area of the vestibule and hall which were also carpeted; in return for this investment in the building, we expect UAHS to reside with us for the next two and half years at least.  During this period, they will carry out more outreach activities for their own society & try out the public spaces available here. We hope that we will be able to work together with UAHS towards a better informed , stronger HLF bid to restore the building and secure its future.

At the same time, our longstanding tenant, Kids in Control, remains in residence, occupying & animating the space.

Membership of the Society stands at approximately 130 paid up members; new members joined at an event celebrating the Thomsons of Belfast on 18th February 2017, promoted by the NI Science Festival , organised by the British Society for the History of Mathematics & hosted by the Belfast Society.

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.


14th September  Professor Emeritus Roddy Cowie : “Perception:understanding what the mind’s covert agencies do for us.”

5th October Winifred Glover  :  ”Gordon Agustus Thompson (1799-1886): in the wake of Captain Cooke”.

9th November Professor Christopher Scott :  ” Improving the performance of medicines-learning from a classic Greek tragedy”.

7th December Dr Robert Anderson   : ” Hans Sloane: Ulsterman and Extraordinary Collector”.


11th January  Dr Greer Ramsey: “Music and Archaeology: he who pays the piper calls the tune”.

10th February  Dr John Butler : “The transit of Venus 1769, Captain Cook, Charles Mason & Donegal”.

8th March  Professor Don McCloy: “Technical education’s role in the formation of a great industrial city: 1800 -1921″.

5th April  Robert Heslip: “Eighteen Century Ulster Tokens and some connections”.


May Outing 2017

Balance House

June Outing 2016

Bus tour to historic Co.Down

In addition, our President organised a bus tour to Armagh in April and a further guided outing to the Cooley Peninsula in October 2016l


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


Rosana Trainor, Honorary Secretary December 2017