Catholic districts, Belfast, 1922

  
This is part of a map showing, in green, what were considered as areas which had mainly Catholic residents in 1922 (and so were regarded as politically nationalist or republican). Most are instantly recognisable, as the Falls and Carrickhill, although in 1922, the Smithfield district was heavily populated linking the two together. The (Low) Markets are visible below May Street. While the area between the bottom of Great Patrick Street and Little Patrick Street seems to cover the Half Bap and the Docks. North Queen Street (but not so much the New Lodge) is shown as is the former location of Weaver Street. The Bone district is also included (Ardoyne not really being built up at the time). Other districts are shown on the full map, including the likes of Ballymacarret.

The map is from Facts and Figures of the Belfast Pogroms 1920-22 which was first published by the O’Connell publishing company in Dublin in 1922. The book was withdrawn on the day of publication and pulped with only a handful of copies surviving until a reprint in 1997. It is believed that the Catholic church authorities in Ireland and the pro-Treaty Government of the Irish Free State feared the impact the book would have on public opinion if the scale of violence against northern Catholics was revealed.

The authors name ‘G B Kenna’ is a pseudonym for Fr. James Hassan, curate in St. Mary’s Church in Chapel Lane, Belfast during the years of the pogrom. Hassan was active in nationalist politics which is reflected in the tone of the book.   The original edition can be viewed here on archive.org. Once the centenary of 1916 has passed and focus shifts to the period from 1919 onwards, the anxieties around commemorating the Easter Rising will seem mild in comparison. No doubt a further reprint of Facts and Figures will follow.

Hassan’s book, while it has flaws, is uncompromising in its detailing of sectarian violence in Belfast, largely fomented and controlled by the unionist government. If its subject matter had been properly and openly debated and the book itself had not been suppressed by the Catholic Church and pro-Treaty government in 1922, one wonders how differently history might have unfolded.

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One response to “Catholic districts, Belfast, 1922

  1. Pingback: Roll of Honour, Belfast, 1916-1966 | The Treason Felony Blog

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