Belfast Royal Ulster Rifles Museum
About Royal Ulster Rifles Museum
Behind the War Memorial Building is the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum. This first exhibit is hard to miss since it’s literally blocking the entrance. Billy the Bulldog was adopted by the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles (RIR) during the Boer War in 1899. He was a South African War veteran of the RIR and is exhibited in a case which was made for the Regiment in Armagh in the 1930s.
This khaki uniform was worn by Tim Collins OBE, a former colonel in the British Army who was born in Belfast. He is best known for his inspirational speech on the eve of the Iraqi War in 2003.
The Regimental Museum of the Royal Ulster Rifles was first established in Armagh in 1935 but then was transferred to Ballymena and finally to these premises with Regimental headquarters. The Queen Mother officiated at its opening in 1962.
The museum houses an extensive collection of uniforms, badges, medals and regimental memorabilia. The Royal Irish Rifles dates back to the reign of King George III and as such the exhibits here cover the history of the Regiment and the campaigns in which it has fought since its formation in 1793. There’s also a collection of records and books that have been transferred to digital format.
After 1793 when two more regiments were raised they were eventually amalgamated with Antrim, Down and Louth. These Regiments of Militia eventually became part of the Royal Irish Rifles. It was not until 1921 that the RIR became the Royal Ulster Rifles.
This painting depicts Frederick William Robert Stewart , the 4th marquis of Derry between 1805-1872.
Other regiments that appear throughout here in several exhibits between 1793-1968 include: 83rd Regiment from County Dublin and 83rd Fitch’s Grenadiers, 86th Regiment from Royal County Down and 86th Cuyler’s Shropshire Volunteers.
The artefacts on display number over 4,000. Other interesting items to stoke any military historian include albums, war diaries, pictures and muniments. Of the regimental archives there are medal rolls, casualty lists and other documents which may help in the research of ancestors who served in any of these regiments.
The future of the museum has been called into doubt however, since there are plans to develop this area and with no concrete plans afoot to relocate it to new premises it may mean that the museum is eventually put into storage.
# Mr RGT Nelson BA is interim Curator. Interior main room lights replaced. The Marquis picture is now back at Mount Stewart after about a forty year loan.