Bog Meadow & Surrounding Hills

Exploring the literary life of Belfast and the surrounding area

‘Imagination fills,
Bog meadow and surrounding hills’ – Michael Longley

Welcome to 'Bog Meadow & Surrounding Hills', an exhibition by the Linen Hall Library, celebrating the past, present and future of the literary culture of Belfast city.

The exhibition will take you on a 400 year journey highlighting the many aspects of writing and how that writing was brought to the page.

Belfast is a city of many stories. Little is known of the pre city area, asides a brief reference in the 15th century Annals of Ulster. The emerging town of the 18th century, with its new well-planned streets, was driven by new wealth and Enlightenment ideals.

The Industrial city, famous for its linen, shipbuilding and sectarianism, gave Belfast its first taste of fame. Post partition, Belfast turned in on itself with many literary sons and daughters leaving to write elsewhere.

In the 1960s, Belfast saw a literary revival, before the onset of the Troubles, which scarred the city physically and psychologically. We now live in a new post Troubles era with all the uncertainty of change and tang of possibility that peace brings.

Throughout all this change, development and regression, Belfast’s writers have reflected, challenged and sometimes provided escape for its citizens and many around the world. They have been supported by an infrastructure of printers, publishers, newspapers and libraries, creating a writing culture since people began to populate this mud-filled valley.

This exhibition celebrates and investigates this literary culture. The Linen Hall Library, which has produced this exhibition, has been in existence in the centre of Belfast since 1788, and has spent the intervening years collecting and preserving a record of the literary life of the city.

The Library was created as the Belfast Reading Society, becoming the Belfast Society  for Promoting Knowledge in 1792, reflecting the Enlightenment consciousness of those times. Our founding members were intent on allowing knowledge to flow through the new city of Belfast and beyond.

The 'Bog Meadows & Surrounding Hills' exhibition stands in this tradition, allowing citizens and visitors to Belfast to realise the rich literary heritage that has survived and at times flourished in our hill-ringed city.