Field Trip Reports 2011Field_Trip_Reports.html

7th May - Belfast Castle          

Our first field trip of the summer programme heralded the end of the spell of sunny weather so members assembled at Belfast Castle with waterproof coats and umbrellas at the ready. Fortunately the rain held off while Dr Ben Simon told us about the history of the castle which was built by the 3rd Marquis of Donegall in the late 1860’s. On his death it passed to his daughter the Countess of Shaftesbury. Her son the 9th Earl of Shaftsbury  resided in the castle for a time but by the late 1920’s it was unoccupied and land on the lower slopes below the castle was sold for housing.

The Belfast Corporation acquired the remaining lands and the castle for a public park in 1934. After some years of neglect the castle was refurbished and reopened for public use in 1988.

We then had a walk around part of the castle grounds where Ben Simon told us about the history of the estate grounds from its time when it was a deer park.  He also pointed out the remains of houses on the estate all of which are now in ruins. We also saw the site of the Shaftesbury children’s playhouse. Many of these sites and the stories connected with them are recalled in Ben Simon’s book Voices from The Cave Hill and many of us took the opportunity to buy a copy and have it signed by the author.


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