Sandy Row is a street in south Belfast, Northern Ireland. It gives its name to the surrounding living environment, which is predominantly Protestant working class. Sandy Row area had a population of 2,153 in 2001. [1] [2] It is a staunchly loyalist area of Belfast, is a traditional center for connection with the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Orange Order.


Sandy Row is located in South Belfast, beginning at the edge of the city center, close to the Europa Hotel. The road runs south from Boyne Bridge (formerly saltwater Bridge) over the old Dublin railway at Great Victoria Street station, then cross the Donegall Road and end at the bottom of the Lisburn Road. At the northern end of the road was the famous Murray’s tobacco factory, which first opened in 1810, [3] while the other is a large orange hallway.


The first orange arch erected in Sandy Row, c. 1921. Its builder, Frank Reynolds is seen standing in the photograph, fifth from left

Formerly known as Carrs Row, [4] Sandy Row is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Belfast. [5] The population growth was largely due to the expansion of the linen industry in Rowland Street. [6] The famous Sandy row stemming from the sandbank to contact the road which followed the high water mark as a result of the flow of tidal water in the mouth of the River Lagan. For over two thousand years, the road along the sandbar was the main road leading south from Carrickfergus. [7]

In the 19th century Sandy Row became a bustling shopping area, and at the turn of the 20th century, there were a total of 127 shops and merchants based on the way. It continued to draw customers from all over Belfast until the outbreak of unrest in the late 1960s. [6] The rows of 19th century townhouse in the streets and alleyways branching Sandy Row has been demolished and replaced with modern housing. Six of the houses that formerly lined Rowland Street has been built in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

It is a traditional protestant, close-knit loyalist community, known for its elaborate Orange Order parades on the Twelfth, with over 40 arches erected in the streets and a marching band of young girls called “Sandy Row Girl Band”. [8] In addition to the arches spanning the road, buildings and homes decorated with flags, bunting and banners. The first orange arch erected by Frank Reynolds in about 1921. [7] In 1690, on his way south to fight at the Battle of the Boyne, King William III of England and his troops traveled along the Sandy Row. [7] According to tradition, a part of his army camp on the land where the Orange Hall now stands. The hall was inaugurated in June 1910 by Lady Henderson, wife of former mayor of Belfast, James Henderson. By 1908 there were 34 Orange lodges in the area. [7] In the 19th and 20th centuries there were very sectarian fighting and riots between Sandy Row Protestants and Catholics from Pound Loney, in the Lower Falls Road. [7]

During the spring of 1941 Belfast Blitz in unfortunate 15 to 16 April raid, Luftwaffe dropped a parachute land mine on top of Blythe Street, dead and fatally injured ten people including children. Townhouse on both sides of the street were badly damaged, many with their facades blown away. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester visited the devastated street.

Sandy Row redevelopment association that was founded in 1970, was one of the first loyalist groups in the community to open a counseling center. [9] In 1996, Sandy Row Community Forum was established. It serves as an umbrella organization for all social groups in the area.

The troubles

Loyalist mural in the corner of Rowland Street (renamed Rowland Way) and Sandy Row, 1981. Building is now demolished.

During the unrest, the area had a strong Ulster Defence Association (UDA) presence. Sandy Row is a part of South Belfast UDA Brigade, commanded for many years by the late John McMichael and currently by Jackie McDonald. Its first known commander was Sammy Murphy, who also led the Sandy Row UDA. He engaged in talks with the British Army in Ulster Council working Strike in May 1974 to defuse a potentially violent confrontation between the army and the UDA across the street barricades that had been erected in Sandy Row. [10]

In December 1972, the senior member UDA Ernie Elliott was shot to death outside a Sandy Row club by a fellow UDA man after a drunken brawl. [11] On February 7, 1973 Brian Douglas, a Protestant firefighter from Sailor Town was shot dead by the UDA while fighting a fire caused by street disturbances in Bradbury Place. [12] Sandy Row UDA members also launched a series of attacks on nearby Durham Street, a mainly Catholic area between Sandy Row, and the Falls Road, in the early 1970s with four Catholics killed in the area, including 16-year-old Bernard McErlain, in end of March to april 1973. [13] Two Protestant civilian men were killed March 30, 1974 in a no-warning bomb attack carried out by an unknown republican paramilitary group against the Crescent Bar. On July 24, 1974 Ann Ogilby, a 32-year-old Protestant single mother of four, was brutally beaten to death with bricks and sticks inside the disused Warwick bakery in Hunter Street with two teenagers from Sandy Row women UDA unit, under the command of Elizabeth ‘Lily’ Douglas . The bakery had been converted to a UDA club. [14] Ogilby’s six-year-old daughter was outside the door and heard his mother’s screams inside while loud disco music played. Ogilby was “sentenced to death” in a kangaroo court led by eight UDA women after it was discovered that she had an affair with an older UDA man, who was married to one of the unit members. She had also made offensive comments about her lover’s wife. On 30 January 1976 the Provisional IRA exploded a car bomb outside the Klondike Bar on the corner of McAdam Street. John Smiley, was a middle-aged Protestant civilians were killed directly in explosionen.Många people inside the pub suffered serious injuries, including a barmaid who lost an eye, Vina Galaway. [12] [15] Less than two years before the attack, the Klondike Bar was the subject of a photographic essay by Bill Kirk in a series of photographs taken in Sandy Row. The Klondike was built 1872nd

In the same year in the Klondike bombing had an 18-year-old Catholic girl throat slit behind a Sandy Row pub by loyalist paramilitaries after she had discovered drinking inside with Protestant friends. [16]

An army patrol crossing the intersection with the Donegall Road, 1981. All buildings except the City Hospital tower and chimney in the background, now demolished.

Thomas Vance, one of the 18 British soldiers killed in ambush Warren, was born in Sandy Row. [Citation needed]

In October 2011, a bomb was discovered on a patch of ground on Bradbury Place, which caused a security alert, resulting in the evacuation of homes, bars and businesses in the area. Army bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion on the device.

The large UDA / Ulster Freedom Fighters mural was one of many loyalist murals that are in Sandy Row; it could be seen from the northern end of gatan.Muralmålningen was supposed to mirror Free Derry Corner Republican mural. It was announced in June 2012 that the mural would be painted over with another shows William of Orange .Tillkännagivandet made by Jackie McDonald after a year of talks with residents and business leaders, some of whom argued that the existence of the mural was to discourage other companies from settling in office buildings around. [17] It was removed on June 25 and replaced with a mural depicting William of Orange. [18] [19]

Sandy Row contains a loyalist souvenir shop, “Ulster One Stop Shop”, selling UDA and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) stuff. [20] John McMichael Centre (named after the former South Belfast UDA leader) which helps former loyalist prisoners, is also located on Sandy Row.


Sandy Row Neighbourhood Renewal Area (NRA) was appointed by the Department of Social Development in 2004, with borders stretching along the West, Donegall Road and Great Victoria Street. On census day (29 April 2001), there were a total of 2,153 persons living in Sandy Row NRA. Of these: [1] [2]

  • 20% were younger than 16 years old and 21% were aged 60 and over,
  • 44% of the population were male and 56% were women;
  • 10% were from a Catholic community background;
  • 86% were from a “Protestant and other Christian (including Christian related) community background;
  • 14% of people aged 16-74 were unemployed.

For more information see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service.


The Linfield FC was formed in Sandy Row in March 1886 by workers from Ulster Spinning Company Linfield Mill. Originally called Linfield Athletic Club, its games ground, “meadow”, was behind the mill. [21] Linfield first captain Sam “Thaw” Torrans.

Celebrated snooker champion Alex “Hurricane” Higgins was born in Sandy Row, born in Abingdon Drive, off the Donegall Road. He first started playing at the age of 11 in Jampot club. [22]

In popular culture

In the song “Madame George” on his album Astral Weeks Van Morrison sings:

Then you know that you have to go on the train from Dublin to Sandy Row

– Van Morrison, “Madame George” (1968) [23]


  1. ^ Jump up to: a bSandy Row Project Team (December 2004). “Section 5: Sandy Row”. The Task Force – meet the needs of the working class Protestant communities: Final Report (DOC). (Report) Department of Social Development. pp. 26-27. Retrieved twelve August 2012.
  2. ^ Jump up to: a bSandy Row Project Team (December 2004). “Appendix 4: Census data.” The Task Force – meet the needs of the working class Protestant communities: Final Report (DOC). (Report) Department of Social Development. pp. VI-XXV. Retrieved twelve August 2012.
  3. Jump up ^ Owen, DJ (1921). History of Belfast. W. & G. Baird. p. 313th Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  4. Jump up ^ “McCausland – new name for Sandy Row housing systems” (Press release). Northern Ireland Executive. 15 September 2011. Retrieved twelve August 2012.
  5. Jump up ^ Sandy Row: a small part of Belfast
  6. ^ Jump up to: a bSandy Row History Part 1
  7. ^ Jump up to: a b c d eSandy Row history, part 2
  8. Jump up ^ Murphy, p.288
  9. Jump up ^ Nelson, Sarah (1984). Ulster uncertain Defenders: Protestant political, paramilitary and community groups and the Northern Ireland conflict. Belfast Apple Press. p.141
  10. Jump up ^ Fish, Robert (1975). Point of No Return: the strike that broke the British in Ulster. London: Times Books. pp.145-148
  11. Jump up ^ McDonald, Henry & Cusack, Jim (2004). UDA: Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror. Penguin Ireland. pp. 34-35
  12. ^ Jump up to: a bKain: Sutton Index deaths – 1973 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; the name “Cain” defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  13. Jump up ^ McDonald & Cusack, p. 54
  14. Jump up ^ Simpson, Alan (1999). Murder Madness: True violations during the unrest. Dublin: Gill & McMillan. pp.38-39
  15. Jump up ^ “I forgive bombers and shame his family.” The newsletter. March 24, 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  16. Jump up ^ Murphy, Dervla (1979). A Place Apart. Harmondsworth: Penguin ISBN 0140050302; p. 144
  17. Jump up ^ O’Neill, Julian (1 June 2012). “Sandy Row loyalist murals replaced by William of Orange painting” .BBC Online. Retrieved twelve August 2012.
  18. Jump up ^ “Sandy Row loyalist murals replaced by William of Orange painting”. BBC Online. 25 June 2012. Retrieved twelve August 2012.
  19. Jump up ^ “King Billy portrait replaces UFF mural at Sandy Row ‘. BBC Online. July 2, 2012. Twelve Retrieved August 2012.
  20. Jump up ^ image of the store
  21. Jump up ^ Garnham, Neal (2004). Association football and society in pre-partition Ireland. Ulster Historical Foundation. p.47
  22. Jump up ^ McKeown, Lesley-Anne (27 July 2012). “Two years later and still no Alex Higgins memorial”. Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved twelve August 2012.
  23. Jump up ^ “Belfast: Looking for Van Morrison.” Texas Monthly. October 1975. Retrieved 11 August 2012.