Wednesday, 10 April 2013

PRONI lecture series on the Urban Landscape

From PRONI (

The Urban Landscape: Civic Pride – Lecture Series

PRONI will be hosting a series of lunchtime lectures entitled "The Urban Landscape: Civic Pride" at the end of April 2013. The series will feature lectures from Dr Amanda Croft, Dr Paul Harron and Professor Stephen Royle. The dates are as follows -

‘Art and the Public Domain:’ by Dr Amanda Croft
18th April at 1pm, PRONI

Contemporary art in Northern Ireland thrives in a wide variety of locations, from large-scale galleries like the MAC and the Ulster Museum to smaller spaces such as the Engine Room and the Mullan Galleries but additional to this is the wealth of artwork in open spaces such as the Cathedral Quarter, the City Hall and the Laganside. Amanda Croft’s talk will concentrate on the development and the diversity of public art, whether installations, sculpture, murals or statues, in Belfast and its environs and how and why it is where, and what, it is.

‘Young & Mackenzie Architects and Civil Engineers - Networks and connections of patronage in the creation of Belfast’s built environment, c.1850-1940’ by Dr Paul Harron
25th April at 1pm, PRONI

As Belfast developed rapidly in the 19th century new local architectural and civil engineering firms were established to cater for clients’ expanding needs, creating in due course an imposing and varied cityscape. An examination of one of the largest of these firms, Young & Mackenzie, from c.1850 to the 1930s – whose archives are held in PRONI – reveals the extent to which social, societal and business networks and connections were involved in the receipt of design commissions, from street developments to individual residences; from large-scale commercial premises to significant institutional and civic buildings as well as new churches and the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland – the Assembly Buildings.

This lecture will present material demonstrating how closely connected members of Belfast’s wealthy civic elite were – joined by social, religious, commercial, civic, cultural and institutional ties – and how this led to frequent and notable instances of this firm’s dominance and monopoly in the architectural field during the Victorian, Edwardian and early 20th century periods. The results of networks of such patronage still speak for themselves in many substantial buildings which exist today and which still give Belfast much of its prevailing visual appearance.

‘Clanging Belfast: The Industrial City’ by Professor Stephen Royle
30th April at 1pm, PRONI

Belfast's industrial pomp must have been noisy: riveting at the yards, clatter from linen mills, sirens marking time at the factories. A rumbustious people packed into terraces and alleys would have added their din. Noise fades but the industrial era left other remembrances, from buildings still gracing the city to humdrum details of lives revealed in newspapers, more formal sources from the corporation, the Linen Merchants’ Association and parliamentary and other reports. Utilising contemporary materials, this lecture details Belfast from a market town to the titanic/Titanic city with might in textiles, shipbuilding and other industries. The lecture does not ignore the darkness within the clanging city: health problems of mill workers; back street poverty – a ‘charnel house breaking in upon the gaiety and glitter of a bridal’ was one inelegant description – and ‘intestine broils’, sectarian conflicts that blighted Belfast in the nineteenth as well as the twentieth century.

WHERE: PRONI lecture theatre
WHEN: 1pm on the 18th, 25th & 30th April

All talks will last approximately 45 minutes.
Talks are free but booking is advisable.
To book please contact PRONI on 02890 534800 or email us at

(With thanks to Gavin McMahon)


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. For my other genealogy books, please visit; whilst for my online Scottish based genealogy courses please visit the Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd site.

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