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Historical Belfast

Author: Jason Burke

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Historical Belfast is Belfast's only history podcast on the airwaves. Hosted by historian Jason Burke, it provides an accessible and entertaining insight into the 'Old Smoke' and its fascinating past. For more Historical Belfast content, including walking tours and a blog, visit:
8 Episodes
To the sound of church bells at 9am on Sunday morning of 21st November 1920, as the IRA’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ hit squads moved towards their 15 victims, a desperate search for an East Belfast military man was underway in a remote area of County Cork.  This is the story of Captain Joseph Thompson, an Intelligence Officer for the Manchester Regiment, executed by the IRA in Ballincollig, County Cork on 20th November 1920.
A couple of years back I was asked to lead some historical tours of Campbell College school in Belfast. The school, situated on the Belmont estate near Stormont was primarily a boarding school and a firm favourite of prominent families in Belfast such as Davidson of Sirocco Works, Jaffe of Strandtown, Sharman Neil the jeweller, and also of clergymen who received a discount on their fees. C.S. Lewis who grew up nearby attended the school for a short period. Indeed, the gas lamppost on the school driveway is claimed to have been the inspiration for the one represented in The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe though this has also been disputed. Also worth mentioning is Fred Crawford, the UVF gunrunner in 1914 who was on the school’s board of governors.Anyhow, while carrying out the research for these tours I came across a lesser-known story of an IRA raid on the armoury of the Campbell College Officer Training Corps on Friday 27th December 1935.
As we approach the centenary of the covert operation to bring home the body of The Unknown Warrior on behalf of the nation at the end of the First World War, new research has unearthed a fascinating story which suggests that a Belfast man was at the heart of it.In this episode, Jason Burke chats to Mark Scott who is the author of the soon-to-be published book 'Among The Kings' which tells the story of Ernest Fitzsimmons, who went by the name of 'Fitz', and resided at 172 Roden Street in South Belfast. 'Fitz', by his own account, oversaw the operation to bring home the body of the Unknown Warrior only to be subsequently written out of the story and anonymised himself.   
On Saturday 14th September 1912, two weeks before Ulster Day and the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant, Linfield and Belfast Celtic clashed on and off the field at Celtic Park as the Home Rule crisis gathered momentum.In this episode, Jason Burke takes a closer look at what happened on that fateful day in Paradise and how it proved to be the beginning of the end for the greatest rivalry in the history of Irish football.Don't forget to check out Historical Belfast Tours and the Historical Belfast Blog at 
Episode 4 is on the forgotten poet and Irish rebel Joseph Campbell who penned the words to the traditional airs My Lagan Love and The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby. Not only that, Campbell was a founding member of the Ulster Literary Theatre (c.1904) and the Irish Volunteers (1913), he took part in the Easter Rising (1916), became a Sinn Fein Councillor in 1921, and was interned by pro-treaty forces during the Irish Civil War in 1922/23.Podcast theme music via Jason Shaw at Cover image produced using the A R Hogg Collection: PRONI Ref: LA/7/8/HF/3/9
Ghosts of the Somme

Ghosts of the Somme


In Episode 3 of the Historical Belfast Podcast, going out on 1st July, Jason Burke talks to Dr Jonathan Evershed who has spent several years researching how the Battle of the Somme is commemorated in Northern Ireland. Use discount code '14SUM20' for 40% off Jonathan's book 'Ghosts of the Somme' at the following link: theme music via Jason Shaw at  
In Episode 2 of the Historical Belfast Podcast, Jason Burke takes a look back at the lesser-known engineering strike of 1919 which brought the city to a standstill for a period of four weeks in an attempt to secure a shorter working week.Podcast theme music via Jason Shaw at Cover image produced using the A R Hogg Collection: PRONI Ref: LA/7/8/HF/3/9
VE Day in Belfast 1945

VE Day in Belfast 1945


In Episode 1 of the Historical Belfast Podcast, Jason Burke takes a closer look at how VE Day was celebrated in Belfast in 1945. From burning effigies of Adolf Hitler, to all-night parties on the Shankill Road, the people of Belfast marked the occasion in style. This episode is intended to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day.Podcast theme music via Jason Shaw at Cover image produced using the A R Hogg Collection: PRONI Ref: LA/7/8/HF/3/9
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