Belfast Telegraph

Turn a page on city's history as Belfast's fascinating story revealed in our new supplements

By Amanda Poole

Special souvenir supplements marking the 400th anniversary of the granting of Belfast's first charter will be free with your Belfast Telegraph every weekday from Monday.

One contributor to the fact-packed keepsakes is Queen's University Belfast Professor of Irish History, Sean Connolly, the author of the book Belfast 400: People, Place And History.

Professor Connolly said many people have a narrow view of Belfast's history and there is much more to it than "one depressing account of recent political conflicts".

"When people think of Belfast they think of the last 150 years and the place Titanic built, but it is much more," he said.

"In 1800 the population was 20,000, by 1911 it had grown to 350,000 and that was all built on the foundations laid down earlier.

"Belfast 400 is an opportunity to think of where Belfast has come from and where it might be able to go in the future." The royal charter signed by James I on April 27, 1613 marked the beginning of civic governance in Belfast, which has brought us to the vibrant and complex city we know and love today.

Following our Belfast 400 supplements, the celebrations continue on Saturday with Belfast City Council's BIG 400 Festival taking place from 11am-5pm.

Family-friendly fun will be focused in and around the City Hall, with a range of films, exhibitions, tours and street entertainment planned, including face-painters, live music, arts and crafts, and much more. Traders from St George's Market will set up stalls on the lawns of City Hall, there will be extreme sports demonstrations, a piece of urban art created before your eyes and a special screening of The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And the Wardrobe, based on the book by world-famous Belfast-born author CS Lewis.

Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson said: "It is important that, when we mark the anniversary of the granting of the charter, we do so in an inclusive manner and for all the people of Belfast and visitors to enjoy, and in a way which looks to our continued and future development as well as those we have enjoyed in the past."

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