The Giant's Tale

Look down on North Belfast from Cave Hill, the sleeping giant believed to have inspired Jonathan Swift and the spectacular views reveal an area rich in contrasts. Stretching to the waterfront, where William Ritchie initiated Belfast’s legendary shipbuilding industry, you’ll see the wilderness of a country park and great mansions in leafy avenues, just a short distance away from bustling streets of tightly knit communities. Delve deeper and you will find some of Belfast’s most iconic historic  buildings, contemporary shopping centres and an historic quarter packed with innovative media  firms, cutting-edge bars, clubs and restaurants. At the atmospheric docks which generated much of the wealth of Victorian and Edwardian Belfast, Ireland’s busiest port welcomes over one million ferry passengers a year to the modern city.

The Giant’s Tale takes us back to the earliest habitation of the North Belfast area, to the Celtic- speaking farmers of early Christian Ireland and the origins of the modern city. We look at the development of North Belfast’s streets and buildings from the opening of the beautiful Georgian Belfast Poor House (now Clifton House) onwards. A remarkable history encompasses the rapid changes of the Industrial Revolution, when North Belfast was the engine of Belfast’s world leading linen industry, and many other industries as well, right up to the present day. But this is also a story about the people of North Belfast, their unique heritage and the diversity of their cultures. Both the Irish and Ulster-Scots traditions have profoundly influenced the area, from its dialect and place names, to sport, music and dance, while communities from around the world have created a melting pot of cultures here. From North Belfast’s communities have emerged celebrated artists, actors, poets, novelists, musicians and sports stars. The 20th century was a traumatic one for those  communities with the widespread destruction of the Belfast Blitz of 1941 followed by the post-war decline of major local industries such as linen. Nearly three decades of the Troubles had a devastating impact on the communities of North Belfast, which suffered disproportionately due to their proximity. But today, drawing on its extraordinary heritage and rich cultural diversity, the remarkable regeneration of North Belfast continues to offer great promise for the future.

The Giant has an extraordinary tale to tell. We hope you enjoy it.

The booklet can be downloaded from this page on the site:

Copies of the booklet are available from North Belfast Partnership. Phone (02) 9075 2990 or email