EastSide Lives

EastSide Lives is a one-year project funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland. Its purpose is to engage local people in discovering and celebrating their heritage and build their capacity in related skills.

Participants have been supported through the process of identifying and researching people from the past. The subjects are ordinary people that open a window on east Belfast’s social history.

Information researched and written by the participants will feature in a heritage trail. Each point on the trail marked with a piece of wall art and interpretive panel.

Who will be featured on the trail?

Well, without giving too much away, we have a real cross-section of people. Men and women from different social classes spanning roughly 100 years from 1870s to 1970s. Of course, we can’t have an east Belfast heritage trail without Shipyard and Titanic stories - we do have a couple of those.  We also have stories about kindly bookmakers, shop keepers, single mothers, community workers and trade unionists. All people who built and maintained a sense of community through good times and challenging times.

How did we do it?

This has been a participant led project. For the most part people from the community brought their own ideas of stories they would like to research and make public. Some people didn’t have a subject so we helped them chose one that might fit in with the trail. There is now a mixture of subjects who are related to the participants and others who were chosen because they sounded interesting and we wanted to find out more. We met on average twice a month over the course of the year to work on skills such as; project planning, oral history interview skills, how to write for interpretive panels, trail planning and much more! We also visited PRONI, East Belfast Historical Society Archives, Local Libraries and the Linen Hall Library to explore what resources were available to us.

What will it look like when it’s done?

At fourteen points around east Belfast there will be a piece of life-size artwork representing the person who has a connection with that place. There will be an accompanying panel telling their story. There will be a trail guide available for free at EastSide Visitor Centre and we are also working on making the trail available digitally through www.visiteastside.com. The participants are recording audio versions of their research so visitors and locals can interact with the trail in various ways. We have engaged an artist, Tony Moore, to help bring the trail to life. Tony has attended lots of sessions with the participants and listened to how they want to bring their stories to the public.

The trail will be launched early April 2020.