A NEW Belfast heritage initiative has been unveiled aimed at showcasing the history of the Colin area of West Belfast and creating a tourist trail designed to attract visitors to the district.
Known as the Colin Heritage Project, the new programme features a visitor trail, street signage, a series of videos, a new website, and some new historical research into the rich history and associations of the Colin area.
The aim is to develop a local understanding of Colin’s history and generate tourism development, including plans for guided historical tours and creating jobs for local people.
The Colin Heritage Project created by Colin Neighbourhood Partnership is supported by Ulster University and funded by Department for Communities and the Urban Villages Initiative. The project features:
- visitor trails
- street signage
- tourism information
- a new website
- a series of videos with historian Dr. Éamon Phoenix
- dedicated Irish language content.
The area, which includes Twinbrook, Poleglass, and surrounding districts in the shadow of Colin Mountain, has an incredibly rich history that has been described as “a microcosm of Irish history”.
For the first time, guided by Dr. Phoenix, the story of the area has been brought together as a single narrative, featuring some of the most important periods in Irish history.
From pre-Christian settlements on the slopes of Colin to the Norman conquest, the Plantation of Ulster, Penal Times, the 1798 Rebellion, the Victorian era, the Troubles, the rise and fall of DeLorean, and much more – all these and other stories are being told for the first time.
Street signage has been installed representing key historical figures and places in the district, which will be combined into historical tours of the area.
On-street totems have been located at key points including:
- Belle Steele/Stewartstown Road: the story of this remarkable Protestant woman who protected Catholics in Penal Times is one of the most compelling and dramatic tales in Northern Ireland’s history
- Cloona House/Poleglass: the last surviving ‘big house’ in the west Belfast/Dunmurry area has a fascinating history and an incredible cast of characters from pioneering writer/explorer Beatrice Grimshaw to British Army commander General Harry Tuzo
- Teeling’s Mill/Poleglass: family business of Bartholomew Teeling, linen manufacturer and United Irishman in the 1798 Rebellion
- Frank Pantridge/Poleglass: the legendary inventor of the portable defibrillator and WW2 hero, who lived at (sadly now-gone) Collin House in the hills above Poleglass during the 1960s and 70s.
- Bobby Sands/Twinbrook: the IRA commander and hunger striker from Twinbrook whose 1981 funeral made international headlines
Colin Neighbourhood Partnership manager Annie Armstrong said: “As the Colin area goes from strength to strength, it’s important to underline its incredibly rich history.
“We live in one of the most interesting areas of Ireland and this project aims to bring that exciting history to life in a compelling way that will hopefully enlighten us all locally, as well as attract visitors to the area, creating employment opportunities for local people.
“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 expand and develop our rich heritage and develop it 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.”
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “The Colin Heritage Trail will provide an understanding of the rich history and culture of the Colin area for both locals and visitors.
“This resource will serve this community for many years to come and can be built upon in the future.
“I’m pleased to see that the investment in this innovative heritage project meets the objectives of our Stability and Renewal Programme: to develop a range of new culture, arts, and heritage projects delivered at community level.”
The project is part of the wider development of the Colin area championed by Colin Neighbourhood Partnership, including a new park, a futuristic Transport Hub, a new leisure centre, and much more.
As well as the trail and associated leaflets, there are 19 videos. There will also be Irish language videos and associated content.
You can find out more about the Colin Heritage Project, and view the dedicated videos, at www.colinheritage.com