AN EXTRACT OF REFLECTION: BELFAST SIXTY YEARS AGO: RECOLLECTIONS OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN (IN 1896)
Belfast Sixty Years Ago: Recollections of a Septuagenarian (in 1896)
By Rev. NARCISSUS G. BATT, A.M., Rathmullan, Co. Donegal.
DONEGALL PLACE, now full of shops, was, half-a-century ago, a quiet street of private houses. Some of them had gardens and trees in the rere, and there was quite a grove at the corner of the square where Robinson & Cleaver now have their establishment.
The residents were either merchants of the town, or country gentlemen who came to Belfast for society in winter, as fashionable people now go to London for the season. At the beginning of this century the country had hardly settled after the Insurrection, and distant journeys were tedious and costly. My father, Samuel Hyde Batt, has been a week in coming from England, and my Uncle William, when in Trinity College, used to ride to Dublin, with a groom behind carrying his luggage. There was good local society, and people were hospitable. My mother was often taken in a sedan chair to spend the evening at some neighbour's, and we gave parties in return; when, after dinner, I, as a child, was admitted to the drawing-room to be petted by the ladies, and allowed to stand by their whist-tables. There were four members of our family domiciled in Donegall Place. My father, Samuel Hyde Batt, lived at No. 6 (now Cuming Bros.'), where I was born. His brother, Narcissus,1 lived where the Royal Hotel is now till his new house at Purdysburn was finished.2 Thomas, afterwards of Rathmullan, lived at No. 4 (now Hogg's).