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Hillsborough is a village, townland and civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland, situated 19 km (12 mi) from the city of Belfast. It is within the Lisburn and Castlereagh District Council area.

Hillsborough Castle.jpg
Hillsborough Castle
Hillsborough is located in County Down
Location within County Down
Population3,400 (2001 Census)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBT26
Dialling code028
EU ParliamentNorthern Ireland
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
54°27′43″N 6°04′59″W / 54.462°N 6.083°W / 54.462; -6.083Coordinates: 54°27′43″N 6°04′59″W / 54.462°N 6.083°W / 54.462; -6.083
Former Market House – the Court House and Tourist Information Office

The historic centre of the village contains significant amounts of Georgian architecture. The village was originally a compact settlement hosting a regular market. More recently land to the north of the village has been developed as housing and Hillsborough has become part of the commuter belt of Belfast. In recent years townhouses and apartments have been built closer to the centre of the village, and the former civic building of Lisburn Borough Council has been converted to residential use. That building is in twentieth century neo-Georgian style. Development to the east of the village is continuing to swell Hillsborough's population. The associated settlements of Culcavy and Aghnatrisk to the north-west are also growing.

A prominent feature of the east and south approaches to Hillsborough is a 5-mile wall which encloses the "Park Dam", an artificial lake, and the forest surrounding it.

In 2007 Hillsborough won 3rd place in the Ulster in Bloom large village competition.[2]



Before 1661, the townland was known as Crumlin or Cromlin (from Irish Cromghlinn, meaning 'crooked glen'). By 1661 the townland and the settlement within it had been renamed Hillsborough.[3] It was named after Sir Arthur Hill, who built Hillsborough Fort in 1650 to command the road from Dublin to Carrickfergus. The Hill family became the Earls of Hillsborough, then Marquises of Downshire.

A prominent memorial to the 3rd Marquis of Downshire (and closely resembling Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square, London) stands to the south of the village and is visible throughout much of the surrounding area.


Hillsborough is situated within Lisburn City Council and from the 1st of April 2015 it will form part of the new Lisburn and Castlereagh "Super Council". Hillsborough is located within the Lagan Valley Westminster and Northern Ireland Assembly constituency.

Hillsborough is represented in Parliament by Jeffrey Donaldson MP.

Hillsborough is represented in the Northern Ireland Assembly by 6 MLAs namely Edwin Poots MLA, Basil McCrea MLA, Paul Givan MLA, Jonathan Craig MLA, Trevor Lunn MLA and Brenda Hale MLA.

In local government elections held on 22 May 2014 the following local councillors were elected to represent Hillsborough on Lisburn and Castlereagh Council. Allan Ewart (DUP), John Palmer (DUP), Jim Dillon (UUP), Alexander Redpath (UUP) and Owen Gawith (Alliance).


Hillsborough is classified as an intermediate settlement by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with population between 2,250 and 4,500 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 3,400 people living in Hillsborough. Of these:

  • 19.9% were aged under 16 years and 21.4% were aged 60 and over
  • 47.9% of the population were male and 52.1% were female
  • 5.0% were from a Catholic background and 91.7% were from a Protestant background
  • 1.4% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

For further details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service

Places of interest

  • Hillsborough Castle a two-storey Georgian mansion, was Government House from 1924 until 1973 and is the official residence of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (and other royal family members) when visiting the province and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1973. Hillsborough Castle was the venue for the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair stayed at the castle on many occasions during negotiations related to the peace process, and he hosted George W. Bush at the Castle for a one night visit in 2003
  • There are many interesting walks and local pubs offering delicacies to enjoy; and is home to a public forest park and lake that form the picturesque setting for the original fort residence of Lord Hillsborough. Hillsborough hosts an International Oyster Festival each year, generally September. This attracts thousands of visitors from as far away as Japan, Russia, the United States and Argentina) The festivities include boat racing, parachuting, garden fêtes, oyster eating and Guinness drinking – all in the name of fun, revelry and charity.
  • The historic Parish Church dedicated to Saint Malachy is one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture. It was built by the 1st Marquis of Downshire between 1760 and 1774, in the hope that the church would become the cathedral of the diocese of Down. In addition to its imposing setting, it boasts two 18th century organs,[4] a peal of ten bells and a number of works by notable craftsmen of the era, including the Colours of the County Down Battalion of Carson's Ulster Volunteers. Today it is a vibrant parish in the Church of Ireland Diocese of Down and Dromore.
  • Hillsborough is (in somewhat exaggerated terms) said to be the birthplace of the United States – due to a disastrous meeting that took place between Benjamin Franklin and Lord Hillsborough (then the acting Secretary of State for the Colonies) in the early 1770s. They are reported to have hated each other at first sight and, on leaving three days into a week-long visit, Franklin returned home to convince the dissident colonists he represented that there was no alternative but to initiate immediate revolution. The 'Declaration of Independence' in July 1776 followed shortly after Franklin's return.

Notable people

  • The composer and conductor Hamilton Harty (1879–1941), whose father William Harty was organist in the Parish Church, was born in Hillsborough.
  • Hillsborough was home to TV and radio presenter Gloria Hunniford for a number of years. Her late daughter Caron Keating spent much of her childhood in the village.
  • Frank Pantridge (1916–2004) was a physician and cardiologist born in Hillsborough, who invented the portable defibrillator.


The Hillsborough railway station was opened by the Banbridge, Lisburn and Belfast Railway on 13 July 1863.[5] The line through the station was part of the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) system. The station closed on 30 April 1956 under the auspices of the Great Northern Railway Board. Train services were replaced by bus services provided by the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA). No trace of the station now remains, as it was removed when the dual carriageway was built. It was situated where this crosses over the Culcavey Road.


See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ "Hillsborough Parish Church |". Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Hillsborough station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 6 May 2012.

External links