A map of Belfast showing how much of our Victorian architecture has been demolished in the last 60 years is shocking.
As Alex Attwood defends his decision to demolish the Athletic Stores, we must ask ourselves: “What are we inviting tourists to come here to see?”
We shout “Titanic!”, but the great industrial powerhouse that built the great ship is almost gone.
In its place are modern structures, housing memories.
Joni Mitchell’s lyrics come to mind: “They chopped down all the trees, put ’em in a tree museum. Then they charged all the people and dollar and a half just to see ’em.”
So much pride of place comes from keeping a continuity with the past.
If we knock down the buildings, silence the songs, dig up the scenery and then paint over all the art, we might as well put up a big sign at the airports stating — Turn Back, We Are Just The Same As Everywhere Else Now.