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Anglo-Saxons and Danes Heritage and Nature Places of Interest
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Historic Events Prime Ministers
Artists and Architects Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Composers Maps and Documents World Heritage Sites
Explorers and Adventurers Monarchs Writers and Poets

Northern Ireland
In 1921 six of the nine counties which make up the province of Ulster were divided off from the south of the country and became Northern Ireland. This partition of the island between the predominantly Protestant north and the Catholic south - the result of events stretching back hundreds of years - would later in the century lead to civil unrest and violence.

Background: 1167-1921
The Troubles

Southern Ireland then became known as the Irish Free State, later Eire and now the Republic of Ireland.

Northern Ireland is made up of the following six counties; Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry (Derry) and Tyrone.

Approximately three-quarters of a million people can speak Irish Gaelic in Ireland - mainly on the west coast - although it is believed only 120,000 people use the language on a regular basis. It is one of only four Celtic languages that are still spoken today; Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton being the other three. In the 5th century Irish Gaelic spread to Scotland and developed into Scottish Gaelic. It is also the root of the now extinct Manx language which was once spoken on the Isle of Man.

Actors/Actresses and Directors

The film actor and director Kenneth Branagh was born in Belfast in 1960. His film Belfast was based on his experiences growing up in the city during the Troubles and he was awarded an Academy Award for the screenplay.

Kenneth Branagh

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The riverbanks, meadows and woods which run alongside the River Lagan just south of Belfast were designated the Lagan Valley AONB in 1965.

The North Derry AONB was designated in 1966 and in 2006 extended and redesignated as the Binevagh AONB. This mainly coastal area protects long stretches of beaches, dune systems and cliffs which provide views north across to Scotland.

The Antrim Coast and Glens were designated an AONB in 1989. Situated on the north-east coastline the area stretches from Ballycastle in the north, south along the coast to Larne and includes the Glens of Antrim and Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island at Rathlin Island. The geology of the area has led to a variety of landscapes ranging from remote moorland to dramatic cliffs and gentle bays.

Designated in 1989 the Causeway Coast AONB reaches east along the coast from Ballycastle to include Northern Ireland's only World Heritage Site, the Giant's Causeway. The area protected includes spectacular cliffs, undulating dunes and the inland landscape of the Bush valley.

In 2010 the Strangford and Lecale AONB was created out of a merger of the Lecale Coast AONB (designated 1967) and the Strangford Lough AONB (designated 1972). The area's coves, headlands and beaches provide sanctuaries to large seal and bird populations.

The inland Sperrin AONB covers the mountainous heart of Northern Ireland. Designated in 1968 the area stretches from the Strule Valley in the west to the edge of the Lough Neath lowlands in the east and includes large areas of moorland broken by valleys and glens together with inland waters in the south.

The Mourne AONB includes the 12 peaks of the Mourne Mountains and the nearby coastline. Found in the south-east of Northern Ireland, the area stretches from Carlingford Lough north-east along the coast and inland. It was designated in 1986 to protect the mountain landscape as well as other habitats leading down to the coastand including areas of moorland and woodland.

The Ring of Gullion is a rare example of an unusual geological formation known as a ring dyke with the Slieve Gullion mountain at its centre surrounded by low-lying hills. The area was designated an AONB in 1991.


College of Arms
(Official repository of the coats of arms and pedigrees
for English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families)

Heritage and Nature

Environment and Heritage Service

National Trust

Maps and Documents

Belfast Gazette
(With the London and Edinburgh editions the UK's official newspapers of record dating to 1665)

Nobel Prize Winners

The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 Seamus Heaney, was born in Castledawson, Londonderry (Derry) in 1939.

Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Poetry Archive

In 1976 the peace activists Betty Williams (born in Belfast in 1943) and Mairead Corrigan (born in Belfast in 1944) founded the Northern Ireland Peace Movement for which in the same year they shared the Nobel Prize for Peace.

In 1998 the politicians John Hume (born in Londonderry in 1937) and David Trimble (born as William David Trimble in Belfast in 1944) shared the Nobel Prize for Peace for their involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process.

The physicist E.T.S. Walton died in Belfast in 1995. In 1951 he had shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with the English scientist John Cockcroft for their study of alpha particles.

Places of Interest

Queen's University Belfast was founded in 1845.

World Heritage Sites
The Giant's Causeway was designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1986.

Giant's Causeway

Writers and Poets

For Seamus Heaney see Nobel Prize Winners

C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was born as Clive Staples Lewis in Belfast in 1898.

C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis

Into the Wardrobe

I'm not sure that God particularly wants us to be happy.
I think he wants us to be able to love and be loved.
He wants us to grow up!
We think our childish toys bring us all the happiness there is.
And our nursery is the whole wide world.
But something..., something must drive us out of the nursery, to the world of others.
And that something is suffering.

From the film Shadowlands (1993)
Screenplay: William Nicholson (Based on his play about Lewis's relationship with the American poet Joy Gresham)

You see we are like blocks of stone.
Out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men.
The blows of his chisel which hurt us so much.
Are what make us perfect.

Shadowlands (1993)

We have trained them (men) to think of the Future as a promised land which favoured heroes attain - not as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
The Screwtape Letters (1942)

The poet Louis MacNeice was born as Frederick Louis MacNeice in Belfast in 1907.

Louis MacNeice

International Links Genealogy in England

Genealogy Links

Family History Societies
North of Ireland
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