Maritime stories key to future development of Belfast's waterfront - heritage trust

Maritime Belfast Trust chair Marie Therese McGivern (left) with chief executive Kerrie Sweeney.

A NEW specialist piece of work has been produced to help bring Belfast’s maritime story to life.

Featuring a special commission by Belfast writer Glenn Patterson, ‘Where Belfast Begins, Maritime Belfast Story’ has been described by the Maritime Belfast Trust as ‘a framework for anyone who has an interest in developing the city’s waterfront and Maritime Mile’.

The trust said the book also acts as ‘a guide to help bring Belfast’s distinct maritime story to life, influence development and create an iconic and authentic heritage destination’.

Chief executive of Maritime Belfast Trust, Kerrie Sweeney, said: “It is a significant project which has involved a substantial amount of work and contribution from a range of people.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked with us on this project and over the years, for sharing their knowledge, stories, and memories.

“We are especially indebted to the support provided by Glenn Patterson whose work helped to guide and shape our storytelling.”

The book has been launched as Belfast Harbour Commissioners mark their 175th anniversary and St Joseph’s Church in Sailortown celebrates 150 years.

Maritime Belfast Trust said it identifies three core themes which are explored separately: Taming, reclaiming, regenerating; Trading, making and innovating; Neighbourhoods and livelihoods.

Each theme is supported by several storylines, a map highlighting significant heritage sites (some tangible and some disappeared); touchpoints that bring the theme to life and prominent characters who played a significant role in the Maritime Belfast Story.

“Whilst much of our maritime heritage has been replaced by new buildings and developments, there are some elements still visible – from docks to quays, to drawing offices and pumphouses,” said Ms Sweeney.

“Our plan illustrates much of the visible and hidden heritage, highlights where we can tell these stories better and provides an opportunity to help shape and achieve an iconic maritime experience that is unique to Belfast.”

Speaking about his contribution, Glenn Patterson said: “As a writer whose work has always been rooted in the city of Belfast, I have been drawn time and again over the years to its point of origin: the confluence of the Farset and the Lagan Rivers at the foot of modern High Street and all the commerce, industry, and community life that grew up alongside it, right down to the mouth of Belfast Lough.

Glenn Patterson.

“It is a living, breathing (and sometimes clanging and squawking) history lesson – an unbroken line out of the past, and a tantalising glimpse into the future.

“Nothing stays still for too long. I hope the Maritime Belfast Story, and my contribution to it, encourages people to look afresh at this vital mile, to support its further conservation and development. It is in a very real sense a part of all of us.”

To download a copy and for more information see

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