Step into the Story of Belfast


To comply with current COVID-19 regulations, we are currently unable to conduct general tours, tours of our collections and genealogy workshops.


The Linen Hall Library is one of Northern Ireland’s most important cultural powerhouses. Since 1788 it has been home to many internationally renowned collections as well as operating as a modern, fully-functioning library. There is also a gift and coffee shop, and a packed calendar of cultural events for all age groups.

A tour of the Library not only unlocks the secrets of our archives and collections, but also takes the visitor back through the early days of the great city of Belfast.

Below is a list of our available tours. Or download the leaflet.

General Library Tour

Price: £5 per person
Tour size: maximum 15 people
Duration: 45 minutes
Monday to Friday at 10.30am

Group tours available on request – £10.00 per person (includes tea/coffee/tray bake)

Familiarise yourself with one of the most important and fascinating cultural institutions in Northern Ireland. This tour gives an insight into the history of the Library, taking in the wealth of collections available and the stunning listed Victorian building in which they are housed. Get a sense of the burgeoning city of Belfast and the vital role the Library has played in it since its opening in 1788.

Starting in the main reception at the bottom of the curved Victorian oak staircase, discover the early history of the Linen Hall from its first tentative meetings in a pub, to its current residence in a listed Victorian linen warehouse. Learn about the early members of the Library, the swirling political climate in which it was established and the colourful cast of characters that set it up.

Finally get a glimpse at some of the world famous archives held by the Library including the Irish and Local Studies Collection, Genealogy Collection, Theatre & Performing Arts Archive and the internationally renowned Northern Ireland Political Collection.

Genealogy Workshops for Small Groups

Advance Booking Essential
Price: starting at £17.50 per person (includes tea/coffee/biscuits)
Tour size: minimum 4 people
Duration: 3 hours
2nd Tuesday of every month (2pm to 5pm)

Who do you think you are? Find out in the Linen Hall Library!

The Library holds an excellent collection of genealogical material and our staff will inspire you to begin your ‘family tree’ by introducing you to the numerous reference sources available in the Library and giving an overview of how you can utilise them to research family history

Army lists, clergy records, passenger lists, and hundreds of books covering family histories are available, along with a wide range of periodicals. Unique to the Library is the Belfast News Letter’s Births, Deaths and Marriages Index which covers the period 1737 to 1863. The Library also holds the original Blackwood Pedigrees which trace the lineage of over 1,000 local families.

Coming in Spring 2020 – Linenopolis

Price: £10.00 per person
Tour size: maximum of 20 people
Duration: approximately 1 hour

Discover the history of Belfast’s linen trade in this city-centre walking tour. In the 19th and early 20th century, Belfast was the hub of the world’s linen trade. The city was literally abuzz with warehouses, mills and shops producing, selling and trading linen. With foreign competition and the introduction of new fabrics, the linen trade eventually petered out. This tour takes in some of the buildings that were specifically built to accommodate this boom time Belfast’s industrial past.

Tours on Request

Advanced booking essential.
Price: £10.00 per person
Tour size: minimum of 6 people
Duration: approximately 1 hour

Northern Ireland Political Collection
This world famous archive contains over 350,000 items collected during the ‘Troubles’ and subsequent Peace Process.

Irish Language and Ulster Scots ‘Beyond Burns’ Tour
The Linen Hall has significant holdings in the Irish and Ulster Scots languages. This tour will familiarise visitors with these archives and the history of the collections.

Treasures of the Linen Hall Library
An opportunity to get a closer look at some of the rare archive material that makes the Linen Hall Library so unique.

New members receive a complimentary induction tour.

Members of the Library receive 10% discount on all tours.

To arrange any of the above tours, please contact the Library
T: +44 (0)28 9032 1707