Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Estate agent and property developer, of Belfast. Robert McConnell, son of Joseph McConnell, of Clogher, Co. Antrim, was born in Belfast on 6 February 1853.(1) By the end of the nineteenth century the company which he founded, R.J. McConnell & Co., had become one of the leading developers in Belfast, responsible for the erection of large numbers of houses throughout the city for every class of person.(2) McConnell was the moving spirit behind the establishment in 1905 of the Belfast Estates Garden Company which was formed to develop the Cliftonville Circus Garden Colony.(3) The site was laid out by WILLIAM J. WALSHE WILLIAM J. WALSHE , providing for public gardens, a tennis court, cricket pitch and childrens' playgrounds. Every house in the tree-lined streets was to be different. In 1906 the Company promoted a competition, to be judged by the editor of the Building News, MAURICE BINGHAM ADAMS MAURICE BINGHAM ADAMS , in which the entrants were to build 'convenient and homely artistic houses' on 33 plots on the site rather than simply entering designs.(4) The scheme was never fully realized, however.

McConnell served as mayor of Belfast in 1900 and was created a baronet in the same year.(5) He died in 1927, succeeded in the baronetcy by Joseph McConnell (1877-1942), the eldest son of his first marriage.(6)

The papers of R.J. McConnell & Co. are in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, D 2694.

Address:  Home: 423 Holywood Road, Victoria, Belfast, 1911.(7)


(1) Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (1914), 449.
(2) W.A. Maguire, Belfast (1993), 71.
(3) For this scheme see C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Belfast (2nd ed., 1985), 73.
(4) IB 48, 5 May 1906, 360-363.
(5) See note 1, above.
(6) Who was Who 1941-1950, 718.

(7) 1911 census, http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Down/Victoria__part_of_/Holywood_Road/230807/ (last visited Mar 2009).