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A bustling Royal Avenue

Enchanting insight into how Belfast put itself on tourist map 90 years ago 

Ninety years ago the 1928/1929 booklet, Belfast, the Official Guide was published, a valiant marketing puff-piece designed to wax lyrical on everything positive about the city that had been trying hard to recover from the First World War and more localised troubles. In terms of timing, and who would have known, it preceded the London Stock Exchange and the Wall Street crashes of 1929. But whatever state the world was in or was heading towards, the business of enthusing visitor interest in Belfast and exploring ways to boost the economy had to carry on. Many attractions and activities are still available today, of course, but it is interesting to reflect on how the city was defined back then. The advertisements are fascinating and I will get to them shortly.

A-top Slemish on St Patrick’s Wishing Chair

Back Then: Mountain man's memories of beautiful Slemish back on shelves 

I never knew there was a St Patrick's Wishing Chair on the summit of Slemish. And then I picked up a copy of retired journalist Dennis Kennedy's book called, indeed, Climbing Slemish and there on the cover, reproduced here, was a picture this one-time deputy editor of the Irish Times took back in 1956 of two friends perched on this slab of rock gazing out over the patchwork of fields down below.Presumably just after making a wish.

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