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Exploring the Secrets of the Past

4 January 2010

Today Belfast is a modern thriving cosmopolitan city – but have you every wondered what made it the city it is today?  What was it like for our parents’ generation or, stepping back in time even further, what kind of a place was for their parents or grandparents?

University of Ulster historian Dr Allan Blackstock says cities are like people: they have their own personalities and experiences and are shaped by their ancestry.

“Like people, they have many sides to their characters and can change. Some signs of the past are hidden but can be discovered if we know how and where to look and there are clues are woven into the very fabric of the many historic buildings dotted around the city”

Dr Blackstock says that the proposed new short course an Introduction to the History of Belfast will help people unlock some of the secrets of its past.

“These will be history classes with a difference. It’s not being back at school and you don’t have to remember dates! Teaching will take place in a pleasant, relaxed and social setting and people learn from each other as they share anecdotes and experiences to examine Belfast from its earliest beginnings to the present day. There will also be trips to historic buildings in the darker evenings and graveyards when the evenings get a bit brighter. Participants will have an opportunity to focus on whatever aspect of Belfast that they are particularly interested in.”

Introduction to the History of Belfast starts on Thursday January 28 2010. Classes will be held in the Belfast Campus in York Street on Thursdays from 6.15 to 8.15 pm. There is ample on-street parking after 6pm and a good coffee shop in the Campus. The application process is simple - for further details please contact Allan Blackstock on 028 70 323386 or e-mail:

Another short course to help people trace their own ancestors’ movements is People on the Move – Ulster Migration Studies which is being being offered by the University of Ulster in conjunction with Centre for Migration Studies and Ulster Historical Foundation.

“The African-American singer Nina Simone asked: ‘Where do we come from, where do we go? President Barack Obama has discovered that he has Irish roots and many Ulster families have overseas connections, or can trace their ancestors’ movements to and within Ireland. The story of why, how and where people migrated and emigrated, can be a fascinating and sometimes heart-rending tale,” says Dr Blackstock.

A morning lecture session on Saturday 6 February 2010 in the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus in York St will provide all the background information needed in preparation for a one-day coach trip the following weekend on Saturday 13 February 2010 to the Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh where students will have an opportunity to use the Emigration Database. The day’s activities will also include a tour of the museum and a visit to the historical Castle Hill site in Dungannon.

For further details please contact Allan Blackstock on 028 70 323386 or by e-mail on