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Pipistrelle bat © Laurie Campbell
Almost 400 species of plant, animal, insect and bird were recorded at our first-ever Belfast Hills Partnership BioBlitz at Cave Hill. We have been busy since then gathering, analysing results and confirming some impressive and rare species. A bioblitz is a recording of species - taken within 24 hours in an area that helps preserve, manage and protect our native wildlife. Our study included the grounds of Belfast Castle and Hazelwood and took place in May with a control hub installed inside the castle to collect and identify the data. Thanks to the study, this area of the Belfast Hills is now known to be abundant with wildlife including badgers, bats, Irish hares, birds of prey and a host of fascinating insects. A total of 390 species were found including the rare Mossy saxifrage and Cryptic wood white butterfly. “The event for which Belfast City Council provided financial support as well as the National BioBlitz Network, attracted over 100 people who helped us survey the area over the 24 hours,” said projects officer Rose Muir. “We had experts on hand from the Botanical Society of the British Isles, the NI Bat Group, Butterfly Conservation, Belfast city council’s biodiversity officer and staff from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. They helped everyone record and identify species they had found. “The results will help us ensure the survival of habitat and species in the Belfast Hills. Many thanks to all those who took part and we’ll hopefully see more people for next year’s bioblitz on Divis and Black Reed bunting Mountain.” Emperor moth
Robert Thompson Cryptic wood white ©
Rare species Mossy
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Schoolchildren from the Cave Hill area have taken sculpture to new heights in the Belfast Hills with the installation of a seating area inspired by the local environment. The Belfast Hills Partnership has spearheaded the arts project as part of its Heritage Lottery-funded landscape partnership scheme which seeks to connect local communities to the hills around them. Belfast City Council also provided funding. Year six and seven pupils from Cavehill and St Therese of Lisieux primary schools in north Belfast teamed up to cast the basalt and mineral-style stonework. They created thier artwork - resembling the rock from which the Belfast Hills are formed - at a local foundry. The seating is located at one of the most scenic areas of Cave Hill Country Park - just below the iconic caves - where many hill users stop to enjoy stunning views. Belfast Hills Partnership outreach officer Jo Boylan said the seating would stand as a great achievement in the years to come for the young people involved. “Seeing the young people cast their creation in the foundry was really amazing and they must have a great sense of achievement to see the actual installation of their seat now on Cave Hill,” she said. The project is the brainchild of the Cave Hill Conservation Campaign,
rey, Aaron Aiken and Michael O’P of past P7 pupils of St Therese Lisieux primary school
which took a leading role working with the artist and the two schools throughout the six-month process. Cormac Hamill from the Cave Hill Conservation Campaign said the seat was at a well-used resting place. "It is at a natural stopping point with great views and is comfortable to sit upon,” he said. Liam McGuckin principal of Cavehill primary said it had been a great opportunity for the children of Cavehill and St Therese of Lisieux “to work together on
the The seating area in tune with alled inst now is t, men iron env l loca and Hill e Cav ous fam below Belfast’s Alan st arti fast Bel by ted crea was Therese Cargo and the children of St ary prim l ehil Cav and eux Lisi of schools in north Belfast
what has been a great project which will benefit the whole community”. Patricia Reid principal at St Therese of Lisieux said the children had been “inspired”. The deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tierna Cunningham, praised everyone involved. “It is good to see local people taking an active interest in their environment and it is particularly good to see something concrete and long-lasting like this project emerge from that interest. I also welcome the idea to involve local schools. I am sure all the effort they have put into this project will have given them an even greater appreciation for the beauty of this area,” she said.
Eleven-year-old Megan McCann from Caveh ill primary school at the foundry making a sea t for the slopes of Cave Hil l where people can no w stop, have a rest and look out on stunning views
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The ripening scheme entitled Sharing transform the former derelict site. our Space, has been cultivated by The grand opening as the harvest Groundwork and Colin moon ripened in September, provided Neighbourhood Partnership. locally grown and freshly cooked The result is an eight and a half acre produce along with displays of the site on the Colinglen Road that range of vegetables, fruits and has taken root to become a environmental products made on site. community allotment site with Annie Armstrong, Manag er of Colin over 30 plots. Neighbourhood Partnership (CNP) Grow your own enthusiasts have been said the site would be extended. tending to their fruit and vegetables “The next stage is for Groundwork NI over the past few months and the to work with CNP to fully develop the fruits of their labour is plain to see. site. More allotment plots will be Everything is coming up cabbages, “We are immensely proud of the made available, there will be more sprouts, carrots and parsley at the project and the facility is already a amenities on site and also the newly opened Colin allotments. source of community pride and opport unity of future training for The site is an impressive space that activity,” said Groundwork’s buddin g allotment enthusiasts.” is sprouting a taskforce of keen local commu nity gardener Mick McEvoy. If you are interested in taking up a gardeners – from novice to green Colin Neighbourhood Partnership commu nity allotment contact fingered experts – producing all sorts develop ed the project and secured Michael George at CNP on 9062 3813 of freshly-grown produce. £460,000 from Peace 3 funding to or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our postie is first class for Belfast Hills painting A painting of the Belfast Hills by a postal worker from Belfast has been voted best in show by her peers. Martina Rogers who dutifully delivers post to the Belfast Hills Partnership created this beautiful oil painting of the Hatchet Field on Black Mountain. The picture comes from a photograph taken by Belfast Hills Partnership manager Jim Bradley as autumn descends on the hills. Martina who paints at the Dunlewey centre in Belfast is a gifted artist spending her time being inspired by the Belfast Hills when not delivering letters below in the city. Her family also owns part of the locally-known Hatchet Field where she lives. Her painting was given first place prize by her peers at the West Belfast Arts Society and has been hanging in the Gerard Dillon gallery in An Culturlann on the Falls Road.
“I had loved the photographs of the hills that were hung up on the walls in the offices. Jim kindly offered me any of the images to paint from the photo records of the Belfast Hills Partnership,” our painting postie said. “I loved this image and so I’m absolutely delighted at the recognition. Thanks to the Belfast Hills for opening up their photo library.” Jim Bradley congratulated Martina on her painting.
“Martina’s Hatchet Field shows the great beauty of the changing seasons in the Belfast Hills. The vibrant colours she uses really draw you into her painting.” Martina’s tutor DA Morrison said subject of autumn in the Hatchet Field was a clear winner. “Martina has done an excellent oil painting. She is a perfectionist who has shown her flare for colour, texture and detail,” she said.
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Brave New Horizons The users of New Horizons have been hard at it with our volunteer officer Freddie Harris exploring the Belfast Hills and doing a sterling job improving the landscape. Organised with the help of Celine Loughlin from Action Mental Health, this latest outing at Slievenacloy (pictured right) involved hedge weeding at the site. The centre in Antrim aims to enhance the quality of life and employability of its clients. Five events have been completed with group members who have been walking the hills and learning about places like Cave Hill and Divis and Black Mountain. “The group has been involved in walks and talks and now they are taking part in practical tasks. They are doing a great job where the benefits to the hills’ environment can be clearly seen,” said Freddie.
The rewards of bilbe rry
picking on Cave Hill
Our bus tour
Bilberry picking on Cave Hill
Kite making on Divis Mounta in
Nine-year-old Beth McCour t with her handmade kite on Divis Mou ntain
Titanic walk on Cave Hill
w.belfasthills.org/events For the latest list of Events log onto ww hing and
be accompanied by an adult. Suitable clot Please note: All children under 16 must trol. on some walks but only if kept under con footwear should be worn. Dogs are allowed cult Parts of some walks can be steep or diffi
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A Dickens of a carriage Charles Dickens (pictured below) may never have heard of Charles Hurst, but that didn’t stop him indulging in a spot of impulsive car buying - during a visit to the Belfast Hills. The author made three visits to Belfast, in 1858, 1867 and 1869, to give public readings of his work, and received a hearty welcome on each visit. But while he was in the city as the social historian John Gray explains, the ever-adventurous author “went up the Cave Hill and bought a jaunting car”. “The oddest carriage in the world,” observed Dickens, after this spontaneous purchase, “and you’re always falling off, but it is gay and bright in the highest degree.
Above: Dickens bought a jaunting car similar to this one while out on Cave Hill
“Wonderfully Neopolitan.” A jaunting car was a light twowheeled carriage for a single horse which usually seated two or four passengers back to back. The footboards projected over the wheels. It was the typical method of travel for people in Ireland at the time. No records of what happened to the Cave Hill jaunting car exist and sadly there are no pictures of the illustrious author travelling in it. But next time you go to Cave Hill, remember that you’re treading where the great Charles Dickens went on a jaunt. The prolific travel writer later wrote of Belfast: “Tremendous houses there. Curious people, too. They seem all Scotch, but quite in a state of transition,’
and looked back on his “delightful days” in the city with fond affection. For Charles Dickens, Belfast was “a fine place with a rough people”. He thought our citizens “a better audience on the whole than Dublin and the personal affection there was something overwhelming”. This was his reaction to his first visit in August 1858. Dickens had first contemplated visiting Ireland in 1842 with a view to engaging in some travel writing. It did not happen, and in any case, his contemporary, William Makepeace Thackeray, beat him to it with The Irish Sketch Book (1843). Nonetheless Dickens included Ireland in his first major tour as a reader of his works in 1858, and apart from Belfast also visited Dublin, Cork and Limerick.
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Moth trappers being put through their paces by Catherine Bertrand from Butterfly Conservation
Volunteer Stephen Craig at the moth trap making event
A moth trap making and surveying event attracted insect enthusiasts to the Belfast Hills Partnership offices earlier this autumn. This joint initiative also involved Butterfly Conservation NI and the Field Naturalists Club with participants making moth traps, bringing them home overnight and
seeing what they caught with the help of the experts. Jim Bradley manager of the Belfast Hills Partnership said it was the first of hopefully many such events. “This was a very enjoyable, practical course in which we made our own moth traps for a fraction of what these traps would cost to buy.
“It’s all a push from the three bodies to get as much information, as many types of moths and as much recording of our local wildlife as possible. “We built the moth traps on Saturday and those taking part took them home to return to the offices on Sunday with what their traps had caught. “This event will build up a picture as moths are a good indicator of how our wildlife is doing,” said Jim.
FARMERS ON COURSE TO LEARN IT SKILLS The Rural Development Council (RDC) is offering computer training to farmers and their families in various locations throughout Northern Ireland. The initial teaching will be on a basic, introductory level suitable for people with little or no previous computer experience. It’s free to take part in the course. The target is to deliver training to at least 300 farm family members before December this year. The programme will also provide opportunities for farming families to train together. For more information, please contact Anne Marie Bell on 028 8676 6980.
It’s your Belfast Hills: The Partnership brings together statutory bodies with a role to play in the Belfast Hills, including Belfast, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and Antrim councils. These representatives are joined by people from the farming, community, commercial, recreation and environmental sectors. All have pledged to work together to benefit the Belfast Hills. Charity No: XR70288 Company No: NI053189 Address: 9 Social Economy Village, Hannahstown Hill, Belfast, BT17 OXS T: 028 9060 3466 • F: 028 9030 9867 • E: email@example.com • www.belfasthills.org Funders of the Belfast Hills Partnership
Lurgan Design & Print Tel: 028 38 321 255