New Women's History Trail For Belfast

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

A new self-guided trail map highlighting some of the extraordinary stories of women laid to rest in Belfast City and Milltown Cemeteries has been launched by a ‘Women in the Archives’ community engagement group, comprising of members from across Northern Ireland.  

The Buried in Belfast trail map has been produced as a community-led initiative between the Linen Hall Library and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, as part of their joint project, Women in the Archives, which aims to uncover hidden women’s voices from their archives. It is one of nine strands of the Making the Future project, supported through €1.82m of EU funding under the PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The project, which was researched and created by 24 community engagement participants, consists of a mapped trail of graves of renowned females but also of women who have been overlooked by history. Taking place within Milltown Cemetery and Belfast City Cemetery, the trail presents fascinating insights into hidden personal histories of many who lived and were laid to rest in Belfast.

It features prominent figures in feminist, socialist, intellectual and political movements, including Winifred Carney (1887-1943), a leading suffragette, scholar and trade unionist who played a prominent role in the Easter Rising, Elizabeth Gould Bell (1862-1934), the first woman to graduate in medicine at Queen’s University Belfast and practice in Ulster, and Clara Copley (1866-1949), the only female licensed boxing promoter in the UK in the 1920s, who is credited with establishing a long-lasting legacy and love of boxing in the city. The trail also features less known women such as Rose Dilworth and Margaret Lennon, both mill workers, and inmates in the Ulster Female Penitentiary.

Available as a printed map from PRONI and the Linen Hall Library, and an online app, the trails features the research carried out by participants taking part in sustained community engagement. The app version also includes recorded audio from participants where they speak about their archival research process and their findings, providing insights into women’s lives over the last three centuries.

The trails have been developed as a free digital resource available on the free to download Izi travel app (available on Apple and Android) and also available to view online (Milltown Cemetery and Belfast City Cemetery

The Linen Hall Library and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) have also come together to present simultaneous exhibitions uncovering hidden female voices and stories from across the centuries. The In Her Words and Anonymous Was A Woman exhibitions are now open to the public and aim to continue the narrative of celebrating women’s stories and providing their voices with a platform, beyond the grave.

Match-funding for the Making the Future project has also been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

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