Public Forms of Memorialisation to the
Victims of the Northern Irish “Troubles”
in the City of Belfast
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The information on physical memorials contained in this section was compiled by Elisabetta Viggiani as part of her MA (2006) at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University of Belfast. The photographs and text are copyright © of Elisabetta Viggiani. Anyone requiring further information on this material should contact her directly by email at:
memorialsoftheconflict AT hotmail DOT co DOT uk
or by completing the email form on CAIN and marking the message for her attention.
The following web page contains an extract from Elisabetta Viggiani's dissertation.
2. How to Read the Database
APPENDIX I: Acronyms
APPENDIX II: Symbols
APPENDIX III: Flags
My immense gratitude and affection goes to Dr. Kris Brown, who followed and advised me throughout my research since my first day of fieldwork in January 2006. Without his extensive knowledge of the topic and the city of Belfast, his encouragement when problems arose and his constant support, friendship and constructive criticism none of this would have happened. I owe special thanks to Christopher McAtackney, Masters student in Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast, who designed the database completely as a gesture of friendship.
For providing detailed information on the INLA/IRSP memorials and commemorative plaques, I am grateful to Gerard Murray of Belfast Teach na Fáilte. I also would like to thank all the people of Northern Ireland who kindly answered my "Letter to the Editor" – above all David Garrett, Conn Rooney, Paul Livingstone and Angela Crookes. For their advice and support, I am grateful to the Institute of Irish Studies of Queen’s University Belfast, in particular to director Dr. Dominic Bryan and research fellows Gillian McIntosh and Clifford Stevenson. The Linen Hall Library, Belfast, the Belfast Housing Executive and the Belfast Road Service either provided information or access to archives.
Special thanks to Noel Hughes who has unconditionally trusted, supported and advised me for the past six months and to all my friends from Guthrie House.
The present database is the result of fieldwork conducted through the streets of Belfast from January to August 2006. It includes all permanent physical forms of commemoration to the victims of the Northern Irish "Troubles" that are accessible to the public within the boundaries of the Belfast Urban Area, divided into the following three sub-categories:
- Memorials: including all forms of commemoration more elaborate than a single plaque, ranging from small memorial stones to extensive and highly structured gardens of remembrance.
- Street plaques.
- Plaques applied to newly painted or pre-existing murals.
As a result, it excludes:
- Memorials, street plaques and plaques on murals located outside the Belfast Urban Area.
- Memorials and plaques within the Belfast Urban Area, but located on private premises, such as governmental buildings, party offices, Orange Order halls, churches and police barracks.
- Memorials and plaques in memory of non-conflict related casualties, such as victims of road accidents or non-sectarian criminal activity.
- Commemorative murals that do not feature plaques.
The existence and location of almost half the memorials and plaques included was known before hand, mainly resulting from:
- Archival research through the pages of various Northern Irish newspapers and magazines –
in particular An Phoblacht/Republican News, The Andersonstown News and Saoirse Irish Freedom. The Voice of the Republican Movement for the Republican side; Combat and The Belfast Telegraph for the Loyalist side – from the year 1990 to present.
- On-line archival research through the web pages of An Phoblacht/Republican News and The Starry Plough for the Republican side.
- A great response from the people of Belfast to a "Letter to the Editor" sent in May 2006 to The Belfast Telegraph, The Irish News, An Phoblacht/Republican News, The Andersonstown News and The Shankill Mirror.
- Contacts and exchange of information with the Belfast Housing Executive and the Belfast Road Service, with the help of fellow researchers at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast.
- Online search of the CAIN Mural Directory.
The remaining memorials and plaques have been ‘discovered’ during my wanderings about, up to as recently as I am writing this, some of them admittedly for a simple stroke of luck, most of them guided by a sort of interior "memorial radar" I have come to develop month after month as to their most probable location within the different estates. Street plaques in particular were the most difficult to detect, to the extent that many went unnoticed while I took my first steps through a new estate and were traced down and recorded only during subsequent ‘peregrinations’ to the same area, mostly after somebody informed me of their existence.
Moreover, a frenetic increase in the erection of permanent physical forms of commemoration has been witnessed in the past two months, especially on the Republican side with the 25th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike. Therefore, whilst every effort was made to ensure the highest possible grade of completeness for this database, the ever-evolving situation of memorialisation within the city of Belfast requires a cautionary statement regarding its comprehensiveness. Notwithstanding that memorials built as recently as August 2006 have been included, I can foretell that some are being put up and unveiled at this very moment in time and that some plaques are still out there in the streets of Belfast waiting to be discovered by a sharper eye.
As for the additional information on the unveiling ceremonies and annual commemorative parades, they were in some cases extrapolated from the memorial sites themselves, inscribed into stone monuments and plaques, whilst in most cases collected from local newspapers and magazines or from special commemorative leaflets, pamphlets and publications. All photographs included have been personally taken.
2. How to Read the Database
This section comprises some basic guidance notes necessary to read the database.
All records included in the database have been divided into the four broad geographical areas of "North", "East", "South" and "West Belfast", according to their location, and under the above explained three sub-categories of "memorials", "street plaques" and "plaques on murals", according to their nature. Each record presents its own individual page, divided into a series of fields that have to be understood and read as follows:
- Name: either official name (i.e. stated on plaque at the entrance or lettering on gates) or name that I assigned for listing purposes.
- Address: exact location is given. In the case of small intra-estate streets, the name of the most adjacent main road is also given. The name of the estate follows (for example, Falls, Shankill, etc.). Civic numbers have been omitted for privacy reasons.
- Mural: (in the case of memorials adjacent to murals) number refers to the CAIN Mural Directory.
- Group/Individual Commemorated: all groups or individuals commemorated by the memorial are listed, where possible stating their affiliation to paramilitary organizations or political parties.
- Commissioned by: the name of the association, group or body responsible for commissioning the memorial is stated when it is known on an official ground: this is either extrapolated from the memorial site itself by being inscribed into stone monuments and plaques, or reported into newspapers and magazines articles or commemorative publications. When assumptions have been made, the presumed commissioning group in square brackets follows the words "Not known".
- Date of Erection: date refers to the unveiling of the memorial.
- Description: description of all permanent components is given, to accompany and explain the photographs in detail. For an explanation of acronyms and symbols, see Appendices I-III.
- Notes: it includes information on the unveiling ceremony – i.e., who unveiled the memorial, who chaired the official proceedings and who gave the main oration –, on eventual annual commemorative ceremonies held at the site and any additional information or historical fact related to the memorial and its surroundings that can be of interest or curiosity.
- Photographs – on the right hand side.
b) Street Plaques ("Plaques" in the database)
- Address: as above.
- Group/Individual Commemorated: as above.
- Commissioned by: as above.
- Plaque reads: wording is reported exactly as it occurs on the plaque (see "General Notes" below).
- Date of Erection: as above.
- Description: description of images, symbols and designs featured on the plaque is given. Use of particular materials or significance of location is underlined. Also, it is noted if there are any adjacent semi-permanent forms of memorialisation or enclosing fences.
- Notes: as above.
c) Plaques on Murals ("Murals" in the database)
- Name: as above.
- Address: as above.
- Mural: number refers to the CAIN Mural Directory.
- Group/Individual Commemorated: it refers to the group/individual commemorated by the plaque, not the mural (even if in most cases they coincide).
- Commissioned by: as above.
- Plaque reads: as above for street plaques.
- Date of Erection: date refers to the unveiling of the plaque, not of the mural.
- Description: as above for street plaques. Description of murals is taken from the CAIN Mural Directory.
- Notes: as above. Also, information on the unveiling of the mural are given when known.
The following are some general notes that apply to all three sub-categories:
- Inscriptions are transcribed exactly as they occur on monuments and plaques. In case of misspellings, the correct version follows in square brackets. Punctuation has not been added if absent in the original, even in the cases where it would have been useful to clarify textual ambiguity.
- When it occurs that the same inscription figures in more than one language, only the English version has been transcribed, preceded or followed, for example, by the wording "Irish version" in round brackets.
- (For Republican forms of memorialisation) Due to a flaw in the technical programming of the database, fada (´) have been left out in the Irish inscriptions.
As for the acronyms and symbols used in the descriptions of all permanent forms of commemoration, see Appendices I, II and III for the complete explanatory list.
Appendix I: ACRONYMS
CAIN Conflict Archive on the INternet
INLA Irish National Liberation Army
IRA Irish Republican Army
IRSM Irish Republican Socialist Movement
IRSP Irish Republican Socialist Party
LPA Loyalist Prisoners Aid / also Loyalist Prisoners Association (UDA)
OIRA Official Irish Republican Army
PAF Protestant Action Force
PIRA Provisional Irish Republican Army
RHC Red Hand Commando (UVF)
RUC Royal Ulster Constabulary
SF Sinn Féin
UDA Ulster Defence Association
UDF Ulster Defence Force (UDA)
UDR Ulster Defence Regiment
UFF Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA)
UVF Ulster Volunteer Force
UYM Ulster Young Militants (UDA)
YCV Young Citizen Volunteers (UVF)
WDA Woodvale Defence Association (UVF)
Appendix II: SYMBOLS
[Note: Those definitions which follow which are contained within quote (") marks were taken from the following publication:
Jarman, Neil. (1999). Material Conflicts: Parades and Visual Displays in Northern Ireland. Oxford: Berg. pp217-218.]
36TH ULSTER DIVISION (Shield): Union Jack in the upper left quadrant; a harp under a crown in the upper right quadrant; the Red Hand of Ulster and nine shamrocks in the lower quadrant.
BELFAST CITY (Crest): bell in the upper left part; series of triangles pointing downwards in the upper central part; sailing vessel in the lower part.
CONNAUGHT PROVINCE (Shield): black eagle on a white background and white arm holding a knife on a blue background.
IRSM: a rifle in a clenched left hand fist with a red star in the background.
LEINSTER PROVINCE (Shield): gold harp on a green background.
LPA: Red Hand of Ulster entwined in barbed wire under a crown.
MUNSTER PROVINCE (Shield): three gold crowns on a blue background.
PAF: triangular emblem with the Red Hand of Ulster on a light blue background and the name around the yellow rim.
RANGERS (GLASGOW) FOOTBALL CLUB: red lion centred in a blue football with the motto ‘Ready’ below it and the name of the club around the rim.
RHC: Red Hand of Ulster with gold wings against an irregular yellow four-point star and the name around the rim.
STARRY PLOUGH: seven white stars forming the eponymous constellation on a light blue background.
UDA: "red cross on a white shield, with the Red Hand [of Ulster] in a six-point star in the centre. The initials appear over the shield in a scroll, and their motto ‘Quis Separabit’ (‘Who Shall Separate Us’) similarly underneath. Each quadrant contains the symbol of one of the four groups within the organisation [UDA, UFF, LPA and UDF]…The UDA emblem has a Red Hand on a blue field under a crown…Usually the UDA shield is flanked by the Union Jack and the Ulster flag, although sometimes the Scottish flag replaces one of these".
UFF: "simple clenched red fist".
ULSTER PROVINCE (Shield): red cross on a yellow background. Red Hand of Ulster enclosed in a white shield in the middle.
UVF: "upright, gold-coloured oval with the Red Hand of Ulster in the centre and the words ‘For God and Ulster’ around the rim".
UYM: red fist on a white background with the motto ‘Terrae Filius’ below it and the name around the light blue rim.
YCV: green shamrock with the letters "Y", "C" and "V", one on each leaf.
Appendix III: FLAGS
FIANNA NA H-ÉIREANN: orange sunburst on a blue field.
IRISH NATIONAL FLAG (TRICOLOUR): green, white and orange vertical stripes.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL FLAG (ST. ANDREW’S CROSS): white saltire on a navy blue field.
STARRY PLOUGH: seven white stars forming the eponymous constellation on a light blue field.
ULSTER (Province, 9 Counties) FLAG: red cross on a yellow field. Red Hand of Ulster enclosed in a white shield in the centre.
ULSTER (Government of Northern Ireland, 6 Counties) FLAG: red cross on a white field. Red Hand of Ulster enclosed within a Star of David positioned in the centre under a crown.
UNITED IRISHMEN: gold harp on a green field.
UNITED KINGDOM FLAG (UNION JACK OR UNION FLAG): juxtaposition of the flag of England (a red cross with a white background, known as St. George’s Cross), the flag of Scotland and the flag of Ireland (a red saltire with a white background, known as St. Patrick’s Cross).
UVF: purple with the Union flag or the 6 County Ulster flag in the upper left quadrant.
YCV: white with a green shamrock and the Red Hand of Ulster in the centre.
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