Call goes out for people of Folktown to share memories

heritage project pic

An appeal has gone out to former residents and traders from one of Belfast’s most colourful areas to take part in an oral history project to record their memories.

The crowded area around Smithfield, King Street, Castle Street, Bank Street and Berry Street, now known as Folktown has a rich and varied past and the new project, What’s Your Story?, is seeking to collect as much material as possible before it is lost.

Joby Fox, director of Folktown Community Interest Company (CIC) said it was a subject close to his heart.

“My parents met in the old Orchid Cabaret Club in the 1950’s so if it wasn’t for this area, I wouldn’t be here! My father was from Fermanagh and was up in the big smoke when he met my mother from Belfast.

“We want everyone to share their memories of this area. There are many who still remember the old Smithfield and the characters who worked there. We have been getting the word out through fliers and social media.”

The oral history project is the latest part of the Heritage Celebrations project, funded by the by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through the Our Heritage Programme and it is thanks to National Lottery players that HLF can help support projects such as these. This project has been shining a light on the folk who lived and worked in one of Belfast city centre’s oldest areas.

A team of volunteers is being put together to record interviews, research archive material  and gather as many stories as possible. When completed, it will be uploaded on to the company’s website and form part of a Folktown Heritage booklet. 

There will also be a number of reminiscence sessions in July with people getting together to tell stories and spark memories.

Sophie Rasmussen, fellow director of Folktown CIC, said: “We are creating a heritage booklet of the area. In the future we also hope to develop an app so that people can hear all the stories as they walk around the area. We would appeal for people to come forward. All their memories are of value and it would be great to pass them on to the next generation.”

To get involved with the Folktown Oral History Project, check out their web page www.folktownbelfast.com or contact Sophie Rasmussen:sophie@folktownbelfast.com  or folktownbelfast@gmail.com or call her on 07795115132.