Ulster Hall

Ulster Hall

In Brief

Bloom tells M'Coy of his wife's upcoming concert engagement: "She's going to sing at a swagger affair in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, on the twenty-fifth." The reference is to a large and elegant concert venue in south-central Belfast.

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The building was designed by Irish architect William Barre. Construction began in 1859, and the theater opened for business in May 1862. The Belfast News Letter called it "unexcelled, and all but unrivalled, as an edifice for the production of musical works," and The Northern Whig proclaimed it "a music hall fit for the production of any composition, and for the reception of any artist, however eminent." It was purchased by the city of Belfast in 1902 and has been used as a public hall ever since. In 1904 it seated about 2,000 people, though today the seating capacity is less. The stage can accommodate large orchestras.

As an adjective, "swagger" means something like "swell" or "posh." The OED gives the definition "Showily or ostentatiously equipped, etc; smart or fashionable in style, manner, appearance, or behaviour." The largely positive adjective has a clear connection with the more disparaging verb and noun forms of "swagger": "To behave with an air of superiority"; "external conduct or personal behaviour marked by an air of superiority or defiant or insolent disregard of others." 

JH 2022
Interior of Ulster Hall today, seen from the stage. Source: www.ulsterhall.co.uk.
Interior today, seen from the back of the house. Source: visitbelfast.com.
1890 photograph of the Ulster Hall façade (with canopy) on Bedford Street, held in the National Library of Ireland, Dublin. Source: Wikimedia Commons.