Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Time to salute Cathedral Quarter's supporters

Time was when we were in Time magazine almost all the time. And for all the wrong reasons. But this month Northern Ireland merits a double page spread for the very best of reasons.

An article entitled Eight Reasons to Visit Belfast (I'm sure they could have run to 10 if they'd tried) sings the praises of our now spectacular city.

High on that list is the Cathedral Quarter with the stunning new MAC and surrounding bars, hotels and arts and music venues.

I've always loved the Cathedral Quarter even back when it was, frankly, a dark, dangerous hole.

Its transformation owes at lot to the planners undoubtedly. But for the most part it has been down to a number of visionary business people - like Nick Price and Willie Jack - who, way back when it wasn't fashionable, saw the potential of the place and with flair, imagination and sheer guts helped turn it into Belfast's showcase.

The area around the Duke of York is now the city centre's prime tourist entertainment draw. The bar's owner, Willie Jack, has poured effort and money into overhauling the entire alley way with spectacular murals, outdoor seating and a garden show of hanging plants.

Like the man himself it's all a bit mad - but it works. Like Nick Price just down the street from him at Nick's Warehouse, what Willie brings is personality to the place. When we talk about Belfast's rise from the ashes we shouldn't entirely put this down to peace dividend. So much of it is down to the hard graft and commitment of the traders who hung on in there and made this city the success it has become.

Isn't it Time we recognised their contribution too?

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