Northern Ireland news

New initiative showcasing history of Colin area of Belfast unveiled

Belfast Lord Mayor Michael Long, Communities minister Deirdre Hargey, Gareth Johnston of Urban Villages and historian Dr Éamon Phoenix at the launch of the Colin Heritage Project. Picture by Mal McCann

A NEW initiative showcasing an area of west Belfast described as "a microcosm of Irish history" has been unveiled.

Known as Colin Heritage Project, the programme includes a tourist trail that looks back on the past of the Colin area, which includes Twinbrook and Poleglass.

From pre-Christian settlements on the slopes of Colin Mountain, to the Norman conquest, Plantation of Ulster, Penal Times, the 1798 Rebellion, the Troubles and the rise and fall of DeLorean - all these stories are being told together for the first time.

A visitor trail, a series of videos, website and new historical research into the rich history and associations of the area all feature.

Street signage has been installed representing key historical figures and places in the district, which will be combined into historical tours.

It is hoped the initiative will develop a greater understanding of the Colin area's history and generate tourism.

Among points of interest along the trail is the story of Belle Steele, a Protestant woman who protected Catholics in Penal Times, while there is also a visit to Cloona House in Poleglass to look back on figures such as pioneering writer/explorer Beatrice Grimshaw and British Army commander General Harry Tuzo.

The story of Frank Pantridge, the inventor of the portable defibrillator and World War Two hero, who lived in the hills above Poleglass during the 1960s and 70s is also told.

There is also a look at the life of Bobby Sands.

The programme has been created by Colin Neighbourhood Partnership and funded by the Department of Communities and Urban Villages.

Annie Armstrong from the partnership said the initiative reveals the area's "incredibly rich history".

"We live in one of the most interesting areas of Ireland and the aim of this project is to bring that exciting history to life in a compelling way that will hopefully enlighten us all locally, as well as attracting visitors to the area, creating employment opportunities for local people," she said.

"We also believe learning about and understanding our shared history will also foster better community relations.

"This is just the beginning of the Colin Heritage experience.

"We plan to further expand and develop our rich heritage for the good of the community."

The project's historical advisor, Dr Éamon Phoenix, said: "It's a rich and fascinating area, full of important historical places and people.

"There are so many stories to be told, like the courage of Belle Steele, the impact of the recent Troubles and the political legacy of Bobby Sands, or the effect of the rise and fall of DeLorean.

"In many ways the history of the Colin area is like a microcosm of the history of Ireland itself."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news