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Tuesday, 15 November 2016


I am looking into my father's life story and part of the research is to do with what Northern Ireland, and Belfast specifically, was like, in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Although the main core of my project concerns 1960 to 1982, I want to get a flavour of things in the years between 1947 (when my parents got married) and 1954 (when I was born).

Luckily, amongst other things, I acquired a guidebook published in 1950 - "Ulster - For Your Holiday", a 300-page official publication of the Ulster Tourist Development Association in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

As it was intended to attract visitors, it is a glowing advertisement for all good things Irish - warmth, humour, food, scenery and all sorts of wonders along the highways and byways. There is information for "the angler, golfer and motorist" and details of the delights awaiting tourists across the six counties. The advertisements stir memories of long gone hotels and stores. In short, it is a lovely book, a terrific source for history and sentimental nostalgia buffs.

Here's a bit from the foreword written by the then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, The Rt. Hon. Sir Basil Brooke:

"This guide book may be likened to a window through which readers may catch a first glimpse of Ulster. What they will see will create in them a keen desire to visit this delectable land and explore its scenic charms for themselves.
Ulster is known throughout the world for its majestic ships, its beautiful linen and the varied products of its many manufacturing industries. The people of Great Britain are also aware of the remarkable productivity of Ulster farms, from which food supplies are sent to all parts of England, Scotland and Wales. But the primary interest of the tourist is in the wonderfully varied Ulster landscape, where the visitor will find on every hand a wealth of beauty and delight."

Sir Basil finished by saying:

"On behalf of my fellow-countrymen and women I offer a cordial welcome to all who are contemplating a visit. Ulster awaits their coming with pleasure and will spare no effort to give them the holiday of their dreams."

It is a lovely book full of information and positive messages that will help me piece together the dream/reality of the time but it also a valiant piece of marketing just five years after the end of the Second World War. Northern Ireland declared it was well and truly open for business, onwards and upwards. What could possibly go wrong?

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