‘Belfast 400: People, Place and History’, produced by Queen’s University Belfast in partnership with Belfast City Council and Liverpool University Press, tells the story of the city’s unique urban history.
For the first time, the period of human settlement, from early prehistory to the present day, has been brought together in a way that makes the latest research accessible.
‘Belfast 400’ has been written by a team of experts on the city’s history: historians, archaeologists, geographers and social scientists from Queen’s University and NUI, Maynooth, led by Professor Sean Connolly from Queen’s School of History and Anthropology, and supported by a £60,000 grant from the Leverhulme Trust.
While concentrating on the period since the granting of the 1613 charter by King James I, the book – which was three years in the writing – explores the full range of Belfast’s urban history, from insignificance to global industrial prominence, through urban decay to regeneration
The book looks at how Belfast, beginning as a minor settlement around the muddy lowest crossing point of the river, eventually developed into one of the world’s great centres of shipbuilding and linen manufacture – and the effects of this industrialisation and its subsequent decline on its citizens. It asks how the city of Belfast can now redefine its identity, and the still often fraught relationships that exist between different sections of its population, to face the challenges of the 21st century.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Gavin Robinson, commented:
“There have been many books written about our city’s rich history, but this is undoubtedly the most ambitious, and also the most timely, coinciding as it does with the 400th anniversary of the granting of the original charter. It will be a worthy addition to the canon of literature on our city, and no doubt will be essential reading for everyone with an interest in the story of what has made the Belfast we know today.”
The book’s editor, Professor Connolly, added:
“This is one of those opportunities that comes along once or twice in a career. Over the past few years specialists in several fields have started to show us just how much there is to be discovered about Belfast past and present. I have been very lucky in being given the opportunity to draw the results of all that work together into an overview that should make anyone interested in Belfast look at the city in a new light.”
Alison Welsby, Editorial Director of Liverpool University Press, commented: “Liverpool University Press is very proud to be publishing this landmark publication. Professor Connolly is one of the leading historians on Belfast. He and his team of contributors have crafted a compelling study of a city whose rich urban history has often been overshadowed.”
‘Belfast 400’ is available in both hardback (rrp £35) and paperback (rrp £14.95), and also as a special limited edition slip-cased volume priced at £100, from www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk, Amazon, Waterstones, and all good bookshops across Belfast and Northern Ireland.
The book’s official launch marks the start of a programme of events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the granting of the city’s first charter, by King James I, in June 1613. Other planned events include seminars and talks, themed walking tours and a family festival over the Easter weekend.