Fifty-Second Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association
BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)
Mledical Society. As the members of the North of Ireland Brancih of the Biritislh MIedical Association are desirous that the forthcoming, meeting in Belfast shall not only be well attended, but that it shall in all respects be a success, the local committee is making every effort in its arrangements to realise this desire. It is hoped that the meeting wvill not only be useful in furthering mnedical science, but that a greater sympathy may be promoted between members of the profession living on
... ofession living on both sides of the Channel, when friends from a distance learn from personal observation the difficulties that the practical Ulsterman had to encounter before the North of Ireland attained its present position in civilisation, commerce, an(l general culture. It has been suggested that a short summary of what may be called the medical history of lBelfast may not be inopportune at the present moment. in ordler to carry out this suggestion, we shall now take what must of necessity be a very hurried ard imperfect glance at some of the institutions and hospitals that have arisen for the alleviation of suffering in Belfast, coupling with it such information regarding its medical history as we have been able to collect and group together in a very short space of time from different reliable sources. And, first of all, a word or two as to the general history of lBelfast. Belfast, the capital of the province of Ulster, andl the comilmercial capital of Ireland, having at presenit a population, in rouLnd numbers, of 210,000, cannot boast of any ancient or remarkable historical interest; indeed, it seems to have been quite unknown before the thirteenth century. Its ancient name was Beal fierste (hence Belfast), from beal, a mouth, fiersad, a ford. The fort on the Antrim side of the River Lagan, which marked the ford by which the inhabitants of County Down found their way over at low water, and by ferry at high tide, first received that name. Up till the sixteenth century, only a few small houses, scarcely deserving the designation of village, existed arouiid this fort. The old castle of Belfast was built by the O'Neills. It was afterwards captured several times by English invaders, and again regained by the natives, aided by several reinforcements from Scotland during those three centuries. Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, who in the latter part of the sixteentlh century was senit to luell an insurrection by a native chief, whose estates had been forfeited and granted to an English noble, first directed the attention of the English Council in London to the convenience of Belfast in preference to Carrickfergus as a garrison town; but Sir Arthur Chichester, the Councillor of James I, is generally regarded as the real founder of the town. He calried out the favourite policy of James, and brought over many followers from his home in Devonshire, and settled them in Belfast. In 1613, J1ames constituted Chichester Lord of Belfast Castle, and gave the town a charter, and the privilege of sending two members to Parliament. Scotch settlers also came over, and other colonists from Cheslhire and Lancashire; and, about 1637, Belfast began to assume some importance as a commercial centre; but, up till the present century, it still remained a small and unimiportant town, as late as 1782 havingf only a population of about 13,000. 'T'he town continued to grow in commercial inmportance until religious differences, and the conflict between the Parliament and Charles I, spread to it, and almost completely suspended all business oper ations. After the death of Charles, Belfast was retaken by the Royalists, and it was only after a four days' siege by Cromwell's party that it surrendered to his forces. Peace having been again restored, commercial prosperity prevailed.