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Richard J Bell


Known as Dicky Bell he was born on 1st July 1847 the eldest son of Richard Bell snr and nephew of Samuel Alexander Bell JP of Lurgan and William Bell of Holywood. The family were Quakers and owned Thomas Bell & Co. of Bellevue, Lurgan where his father was in charge the foreign business of the company, mostly in America . The company were linen makers, manufacturing mostly handkerchiefs.


Above his uncle, Samuel Bell (1821-1901), who headed the company business. He was also the Chairman of the Lurgan Weaving Co. Limited, which was set up in 1881. In its heyday it had almost five hundred power looms in operation. The latter part of the nineteenth century marked the peak of the linen industry which benefited greatly from the reduction of imports of cotton at the time of the American Civil War.


Above a bill poster for the company business

His father moved the family to Belfast in 1862 and Dicky Bell was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and the London International College


Above the Royal Belfast Academical Institution

 He was one of the main organisers of the Northern Football Union of Ireland.


Above Bell as part of the first Irish side in 1875

He became the second captain of Ireland on his second and last cap against England on 13th December 1875 at the Leinster Cricket Ground, Rathmines, Dublin . Ireland altered their kit from the first match. In this match both Ireland and England wore White jerseys. Apparently there was no confusion. They had to seek permission to use the shamrock from Trinity College , Dublin to use the shamrock on their caps for the first international and for the first time, Ireland wore the shamrock as their crest on their shirts. Originally there were five sprigs of Shamrock.



England went on to win this match by one goal and one match to nil. The following season internationals became 15-a-side.

He played for NIFC

He umpired the Ireland v Scotland match played on 1877

On 17th December 1881, at a general meeting of the IRFU, Dick Bell resigned. No explanation was given but it is thought that after he lost the ballot to become President the previous year hed had enough.

His father died on 3rd February 1880 at 4 Elmwood Terrace, Belfast .

He died of dropsy on 30thJuly 1885 at the old family home 4 Elmwood Terrace, Belfast aged 38.



Patrick Casey, 2010
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