The Newspaper List

I have included below some information on the various papers from which these extracts are taken as well as some information on the Newspaper Library in Belfast wherein they can be found.

The Newspaper Library

The Newspaper Library in Central Library houses over six thousand volumes of newspapers and hundreds of microfilm reels, which include the Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, Ireland Saturday Night and Newsletter, as well as over sixty local weekly papers. It also holds newspapers which have ceased publication including Cityweek, the Northern Whig and Taggart's Mercantile.

The library was completely refurbished with new lighting, heating, carpeting and a new counter and visitors no longer have to retrieve volumes of newspapers and microfilm themselves, as staff will now carry this out. Additional microfilm reader-printers have been installed which cuts the handling of the bound volumes and helps preserve original newspapers.

Use of the Newspaper Library is free and staff are available to help users with enquiries. Enquiries and requests for photocopies from newspapers may be made in person, by letter, telephone, fax or email. The Newspaper Library is situated to the rear of Central Library in Library Street. Tel: +44 (0)28 9050 9150 Email:

The Belfast Telegraph


The Belfast Telegraph is the largest selling newspaper in Northern Ireland and first appeared in 1870 as the Belfast Evening Telegraph. The title changed to the Belfast Telegraph in 1918.

The following extract on its history was taken from the pages of the Larne Times.

The Larne Times and its associated papers could well be traced way back to the 1860s. William and George Baird were the founders of the famous Ulster firm of W and G Baird, which was established on November 1, 1861.

The brothers were both employed by the Ulster Printing Company which owned the Belfast Daily Mercury, a paper priced at one and an half old pence and which ceased to exist in 1861.

William Baird was the overseer of the company's jobbing department and George of the newspaper department.

For a considerable time William and George had contemplated establishing an evening newspaper in Belfast. From 1868 there were four in England and Scotland - the Bradford Telegraph, South Shields Gazette, Greenock Telegraph and Glasgow Citizen.

Also that year there was established The Echo, the first ha'penny paper in London.

The Interest taken in the Franco-Prussian war caused William and George to re-pond the question of an evening paper. On Sunday, August 28, as William Baird, accompanied by his son Robert, was on his way from Ormeau Road to St. John's Church, he noticed a street bill proclaiming "New evening paper will shortly appear."

Knowing by the type of the bill that it originated from the "Banner of Ulster" office in Donegall Street, he made up his mind then and there that he would be first in the field in Belfast with a half penny evening paper.

On Monday, August 29, 1870 William and his son Robert arrived as usual at the printing office in Arthur Street at 6 a.m. - the normal starting time for the 66 hour week then worked. That morning street bills ware printed and posted proclaiming that the "Belfast Evening Telegraph will appear on Thursday, September 1.

It was a great feat to have the paper published on the designated day as the type had to come from Sheffield and did not arrive until late on the Wednesday. Had it not been for the efforts of a skilled overseer called Fltzpatrick, who had previously been sacked by the Northern Whig for "devoting too much time to public affairs" the Telegraph which appeared at 3 p.m. that day might not have hit the streets until a few hours later.

Rev. N.E. Smith, Rector of Drew Memorial Church, Grosvenor Road, and a number of friends were around the Double Demy Dawson Wharfedale press and Rev. Smith took the first printed copy and handed it over, together with a halfpenny, so that Robert H.H. Baird could purchase it.

So the Belfast Evening Telegraph was the first halfpenny daily newspaper published in Ireland. The rival paper, the Evening Press, didn't appear for another five days and only lasted two years.

The Belfast Evening Telegraph was an immediate success and the machinery was totally inadequate to keep up with the daily demand. So, on Monday, September 5, William and Robert went to London and bought new presses and the future of a great newspaper was secure.

The Northern Whig

The Northern Whig was founded in 1824. In June 1919 it became the Northern Whig and Belfast Post. It ceased publication in 1963.

The Irish News


The following is based on information on the Irish News website:

The Irish News in was founded in 1891 as a direct result of the involvement of Charles Stewart Parnell - one of the great figures in Irish nationalism - in a celebrated divorce scandal - but the origins of the title lie 36 years earlier.

In 1855 the Read brothers launched the Belfast Morning News as Ireland's first penny newsheet. The Morning News first appeared on 2nd July 1855 in a highly competitive market.

In 1890 Charles Stewart Parnell's affair with Kitty O'Shea became public knowledge. Parnell led the Irish nationalist campaigners, but the ensuing divorce scandal split the nationalist camp into pro- and anti-Parnell factions.

The Belfast Morning News remained loyal to Parnell and the Irish News was launched on an anti-Parnell platform on 15th August 1891. The anti-Parnell view prevailed and within a year the Irish News had taken over its failing rival.

The paper saw a dramatic growth in its circulation, with the beginning of "The Troubles" in 1968 peaking around 1971 but oupled with major changes in how radio and television news was presented, the decline began almost as rapidly as it had begun.

In June of 1982, the paper came under total control of the company's present owners and now takes it's place among the leading newspapers in these islands.

The Belfast Morning News

The Belfast Morning News began publication in July 1855. It changed title to the Morning News in May 1882 becoming the Morning News and Examiner two months later in July 1882. In January 1883 once again became the Morning News until August 1892 when it was incorporated with Irish News.

The Belfast Newsletter


The Belfast Newsletter began publication in 1737 as the Belfast Newsletter and General Advertiser and has good claim to being the oldest continually-published English-language newspaper. It was published three times a week during the 18th century and the surviving 18th century issues have been indexed and abstracted at

Every significant word and date in the 20,000 surviving pages of the newspaper were indexed, but not all of the newspapers are still available. Only about one-quarter of the newspapers for the years from 1737 to 1750 have survived, although the run of newspapers is nearly complete from 1750 through 1800. The final database of information contains nearly 300,000 items of news and advertisements.

The following extract was taken from the Newsletter website:

The News Letter, now in its fourth century of continuous publication, has come a long way since it first saw the light of day in 1737.

In those far-off days it was printed in what is now called Joy's Entry in Belfast, and was published by the original owner, Francis Joy, under the "sign of the Peacock" in Bridge Street.

The peacock symbol has been synonymous with the newspaper ever since and appears in a more modern format on today's masthead.

Initially a weekly paper, it became daily in 1855 and although some other newspapers originated before 1737, the News Letter is distinguished by its continuity of publication and retention of the original title.

On a recent visit to Northern Ireland, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth described the longevity of the newspaper as "an achievement in which the people of Northern Ireland can take great pride".

There is no doubting our special place in newspaper history, and in the daily life of the Province.

Today's sophisticated news gathering techniques, which link the editorial offices by computer with worldwide news and picture services, contrast starkly with the 18th Century when the printing of international news depended on the arrival of packet boats from foreign or British parts.

One such arrival provided the News Letter with what can be justifiably claimed as the first genuine "world exclusive". The boat carrying the first copy to leave America of the Declaration of Independence, and bound for London, hit stormy waters off the north coast of Ireland. The boat sought refuge in Londonderry port and arrangements were made for the declaration to be sent on horseback to Belfast, where it would be met by another ship for delivery to King George III.

Somehow, and in the best traditions of revelatory journalism, the News Letter editor of the day gained access to the priceless document and duly published it on the front page of the August 23, 1776 edition. Today there is a constant demand for copies of that famous and historical front page.

More recently, the News Letter has played a prominent role in the search for peace and a political settlement in Northern Ireland.

It remains a relevant and challenging voice in Northern Ireland, displaying the perseverance, wit, creativity, knowledge and even the impertinence which makes a newspaper useful, entertaining, and on guard.

Belfast Weekly News

The Belfast Weekly News was published from July 1855 until June 1942 when it amalgamated with the Belfast Newsletter.

In the issue dated February 21 1857 it said:


When it is considered that the Weekly News is in existence little more than a year and a half, it will appear obvious that our success has been extremely rapid and satisfactory. Heartily do we thank our subscribers, agents, and friends, for their cordial support; and we trust in the future to merit still more deservedly the continuance of their approbation and patronage. Our principles are now well known to the public. Our politics are constitutional Conservatism. We advocate the interests of all the Evangelical Churches of the country, and labour to promote among them forbearance, unity, co-operation, and mutual love. We plead for a reform in the Romanised National System of Education, that it may become a vast blessing in the land. We oppose the modern cry of all those who demand a Revision of the Scriptures, and who would have us to cast aside the present time-honoured translation of the Bible. We have always urged the claims and upheld the rights of the working classes. The Saturday half-holiday movement had our earnest support; and we shall not cease to advocate the factories weekly-payment system.

We furnish regularly the amplest agricultural reports and statistics for the benefit of farmers; and, for their perusal, as well as for the information of the public generally, we give regularly all the leading metropolitan and provincial market notes. The Weekly News contains every Saturday the rates of the London, Liverpool, Dublin, and Belfast markets of the preceding (Friday) afternoon.

The Weekly News is the cheapest weekly journal in Ireland; and from its increasing popularity, we anticipate that it will eventually supersede those Romish penny journals - the Morning News and Morning Post - published in this town; and which, because of their low prices, have hitherto been shamefully patronized by Protestants. We trust the time is near at hand when these Papal organs will be read and supported only by priests and Romanists. May we entreat our friends and the friends of Protestantism to continue their efforts to advance the circulation of the Weekly News? As we have already stated, we will use all exertions to make our journal worthy their heartiest support.

Advertisers will find it to their advantage to make use of the columns of the Weekly News. While it is read largely by the agricultural and working classes, we have on our subscribers' lists a great number of the leading gentry and clergy of the country.

Belfast Daily Mercury

This paper began as the Belfast Mercury from 29 March 1851 until the 17 April 1854. It then changed its name to the Belfast Daily Mercury from 19 April 1854 until its closure on 2 November 1861.

The Banner of Ulster

This paper began publication on 10 June 1842. A four-page broadsheet, it was aimed mainly at Presbyterians. Its pages not only contained the news of the day but specific information on what was happening in the various congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church. It was published every Tuesday and Friday morning and printed and by George Troup from their offices, 3 DonegaIl Street Place, Belfast. It continued for just over 27 years with its final publication on 31 August 1869.

The Witness

The Witness started publication on 3 January 1874 as a weekly broadsheet and continued until 1941. The most complete collection can be found in the library of the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland situated in Church House, Belfast.

The following is an extract from the first issue detailing the intentions of the paper.

On 3rd January will appear the First Number of "THE WITNESS," a new weekly Journal, in the interests of Evangelical Religion. The want of such a Journal has so long been felt and lamented, and the disadvantages resulting therefrom are so manifest, that it is useless to enlarge upon them.

< class="indent"p> The plan of the New Paper is briefly as follows: It is intended to be a newspaper in the ordinary sense of the term, with the addition of a large religious element. About one-half the paper will chronicle the general news of the week, foreign and domestic. The other moiety will contain news of the various Churches, with interesting articles on religious subjects. In short, the new serial will be a newspaper and magazine in one.

The paper will be entirely non-political.

All the religious questions of the times will be discussed in its pages. A firm and unflinching testimony will be borne to the grand truths of Evangelical Protestantism, while matters in which the Presbyterian Church is more directly concerned will receive special attention.

Well-written reviews of new books will appear from time to time. Biographies of our Church's worthies will be given. Stories for theyoung will not be forgotten. In a word, it will be the aim of the conductors to produce a paper which will be received as a welcome visitor in every household, and as advertisements and other matter of an objectionable character will be rigorously excluded, parents may with safety admit the new Journal into their family circles.

The services of Correspondents all over the globe will be engaged to communicate the latest and moat trustworthy information regarding the several countries where they reside.

Our Missionary enterprises will find in "THE WITNESS" a hearty friend. The Sutenation Fund may reckon on its constant support. The Bible and Colportage Society, the Orphan Society, the Sabbath School Society, and all our benevolent agencies, will have their proceedings duly recorded and their claims urged. The cause of Temperance will also be faithfully advocated.

"THE WITNESS" is intended to consist of eight large pages of the ordinary newspaper form, six columns in each page, and to be printed from a new and beautiful fount of type on paper of the best quality, so as to vie in appearance and style with the first journals of the day.

The price will be One Penny.

It is fondly hoped that this attempt to use the Press in the good cause will meet with the support and sympathy of every true and loyal lover of Zion. It is in the Church's interest the enterprise is undertaken -- let the Church extend to it her cordial help. Hitherto the Press has not been used as it ought, and all the Churches interests have suffered in consequence. Let "THE WITNESS" have the support of both ministers and people, and the results or good cannot but be great and lasting.


The Witness will be published in town and Country every Saturday morning, on and after January 3rd, 1874. Belfast subscribers will have it delivered at their residences, free of extra cost, on Friday evening. The delivery elsewhere will be in the hands of Agents, one or more of whom will be appointed in every town and considerable village in the North, which can be reached by rail or car. These will have their supply of papers on Saturday mornings. More distant subscribers will be supplied by post.

Irish Weekly and Ulster Examiner

This paper began publication on 22 August 1891 as the Irish Weekly until 3 September 1892 when it became the Irish Weekly and Ulster Examiner. It continued until 27 March 1982.


Other Articles:

At the Sign of the Peacock. []

Newspapers and Periodicals. []


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