Blue Plaque for James Viscount Bryce

Blue Plaque for James Viscount Bryce
Unveiling the plaque to James Viscount Bryce at 13 Chichester Street, Belfast on Friday 10 May 2013

Thursday, 16 June 2011

New Guide to Blue Plaques in Ulster

Last night in the Crescent Arts Centre on Belast's University Street the Circle launched it's first comprehensive Guide to the blue plaques erected since its origin in the early 1980's.

Wesley McCann
It was a well tended event with some 30 people in addition to the speakers. Wesley McCann, our past Chairman who with Linda Greenwood had compiled the material, and Mark Thompson, the designer, were on hand to answer questions and describe the process and problems of design and production. Chris Spurr acted as MC, a role he has become very practiced in over the past couple of years. In his opening remarks he thanked all of those involved, paying a particular tribute to Jimmy Hawthorne, the Circle's founder, without whose dedication over the years it would not have survived. He also thanked the Heritage Lottery fund for its financial assistance in producing the guide. Also the AE Harvey Trust.

Wesley provided an interesting insight to the editorial and design processes, not the least of which was to reduce the lives of those honoured to a limit of 60 words. The result was a pocket-size overview of the wide range of people who had plaques dedicated to them. The guide woukld be a valuable aid to historians, local people, tourist, schools etc.

Rita Harkin
Rita Harkin, a member of the Heritage Lottery Fund NI Committee, spoke of the wide range of people honoured; from politics, the arts and academia over a period of six centuries. She also noted a sub-mariner, a President of Israel, a sheep-king from Australia and  the father of the Suez Canal, to mention only a few. For those whose appetite was whetted, there were more riches to be found in the Circle's Dictionary of Ulster Biography . All are united by a common theme 'public mindedness'. She thanked the Circle for highlighting these personalities to public attention where they act as an inspiration to others as they go about their daily lives.

Copies of the Guide is available, free, in libraries, museums and tourist centres.  View the Guide at

There will be a second launch of the Guide in the Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane, Bishop Street Within in Derry City at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday 22 June.

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