Irish linen production is believed to have started in Ireland in the 8th and 9th century. By the 11th century, flax, the plant from which the material derives from, was being grown regularly in Ireland.
By 1850, the majority of linen production was done outside of the Belfast area and by 1852, 28 mills existed in Belfast. In the 1940s the industry was thriving in Ireland but by the early 1960s, it did begin to decline due to lack of demand.
The Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum, situated within Lisburn’s 17th-century Market House, has an award-winning exhibition ‘Flax to Fabric: the Story of Irish Linen’, which details the history of the industry in Belfast, and in Ireland. The centre also has a series of beautiful collections, regular exhibitions, and tours of the building available throughout the year.