In the early hours of Sunday, March 1, 1970, Sean Kelly from the Upper Newtownards Road received a phone call from a taxi driver friend asking for his help to change a wheel. He was astonished by what he saw. It was, literally, the beginning of the end – the removal of the evidence of the existence of one of Belfast’s notorious hell-raising clergymen.

A  man of God’s word to some, a preacher of hate to others, because of his volume and power, the 19th-century Presbyterian minister was known as ‘Roaring’ Hugh Hanna. Hugh Hanna was born in Dromara in 1826. He originally worked in commerce but took a teacher training programme and began teaching in Townsend Street in 1843. Eight years later he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Belfast and embarked on a career which was to see him become one of the most controversial men in Belfast in the 19th century.

By Liam Murphy