The many faces of North Belfast. A series of talks on Thursday nights At the Duncairn Centre for culture and the arts…

These talks look well worth attending.  The program will run as follows –

28TH April 2016 – Harry Midgely was a maverick in Northern Ireland politics, making a long journey from socialist activist to Minister for Education in the Stormont government. This talk is by the historian, Jim McDermott.

5th May 2016 – Winifred Carney became famous for being James Connolly’s secretary in the Easter Rising but she demonstrated many characteristics of radical women of her era. This talk is by the historian, Myrtle Hill.

12th May 2016 – Sir John Lavery was probably the most celebrated Irish painter of his age, well known for his portraits and wartime depictions. His origins lay in inner city North Belfast. This talk is by art historian, Amanda Croft.

19th May 2016 – Francis Joseph Bigger was an antiquarian and writer who played a huge role in the Gaelic Revival. His house called Ard Righ on the Antrim road was a mecca for young thinkers and artists. This talk is by the artist, Roland Spotiswoode.

26th May 2016 – The Poor Clares are a religious order who played a special role in the life of North Belfast for many years, ever since their arrival on the Cliftonville Road. A presentation on the subject will be led by Father Martin Magill.

2nd June 2016 – John Luke was an accomplished artist with North Belfast origins, some of whose finest work adorns the interior of Belfast City Hall. There will be a talk about Luke by the art historian, Amanda Croft.

9th June 2016 – Amy Carmichael set up the renowned Welcome Mission in the Shankill area and went on to be a dedicated, long-serving missionary in southern India. There will be a presentation by Pastor Jonathan Clarke.

16th June 2016 – Thomas Sinclair was a senior Unionist who composed the Ulster Covenant of 1912. He and his family were deeply connected with the Duncairn Presbyterian Church. There will be a talk on Sinclair by the historian, Gordon Lucy.



All talks take place at 7.30pm.



Should you need details with regard to getting there or parking, please contact me, Philip Orr at or phone Una at the centre at 02890747114

It would be helpful if you can let us know if you plan to attend.

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  • Nevin

    The Sinclair family also gave the city Sinclair Seaman’s Church:

  • Korhomme

    FJ Bigger restored Jordan’s Castle in Ardglass.

    He was a solicitor in Belfast, the firm still exists…and are still our family solicitors.

  • Nevin

    and there’s more! [pdf file]. They could have had Tim McGarry talking about – Tim McGarry!

  • Slater

    Bigger was a great friend of Roger Casement and hosted him many times at Ard Righ. He was left with Casement’s belongings in 1914 which led to a bit of trouble.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Frank Bigger used to have in his office that well known print of two farmers pulling, one with the horns and the other with the tail of a cow, while a grinning solicitor milked the animal. He use to say, “If you know the religion of each of the farmers you can guess who the solicitor is……..” Do Bigger and Strachan still have the print, I wonder?

    “Castle Seaan”, by the way. The Bigger archive has endless instances in printed articles where when the other name has been incorrectly used, Frank has struck it out and corrected the article!!! The tower’s modern name is derived from Simon Jordan who defended the tower against Hugh O’Neill for about three years all told. I’m with Bigger, Alice Stopford Green and “Sean Ghall” in believing that Seán Donnghaileach (who probably restored the tower as a customs house) has just as much of a claim to the tower’s name, but then I suppose I would…….

    And as one noted local expert on Bigger has often said, the only interesting thing that has ever actually happened to the Tower was Frank Bigger himself.

    This looks like an extremely well put together programme with considerable and varied local interest. I will be attempting to catch as many of the talks as I can, certainly that on Bigger and John Luke. I remember Luke, who was still at the Art College teaching in my own pre-dip year.

  • Korhomme

    Thanks for that, Seaan. I only had vague outlines of the history of the castle and of FJB. I didn’t know about milking the cow!

    When I first went to Bigger and Strahan they were in Dickensian premises in Royal Avenue, bare floorboards and a wooden counter. There were shelves stuffed with rolls and rolls of documents, all very dusty; it could have been the original of, say, Scrooge and Marley with Bob Cratchit huddled over a desk in the corner. Alas, the firm has moved to entirely utilitarian offices nearby.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I remember the old offices, just over from the Art College. They were FJBs original offices.