Follow in the Footsteps of Literary Giants

Two special Belfast literary tours launched

Bookworms from near and far will have the chance to follow in the footsteps of Belfast's literary giants on two special tours over the summer months. The tours are designed to emphasize Belfast's place on the global literary map, and to help the city capitalise on an industry estimated to be worth up to £2.6 billion a year to the United Kingdom economy.

From Jonathan Swift to C S Lewis and Glenn Patterson, from Louis MacNeice to Tom Paulin and Ciaran Carson, the tours will visit the haunts and landmarks which inspired the city's greatest writers over the years - many of which then found their way into their works.

Guided coach tours will tell the story of C S Lewis through the places he lived and frequented while growing up in east Belfast, while literary walking tours will follow a journey through the city's streets and byways, alleyways, libraries and pubs.

'There are few better ways to get to know a city than through its writers,' commented Councillor Michael Browne, Chairman of Belfast City Council's Development Committee.

Belfast is home to a large family of literary greats, from the giants of the past such as Jonathan Swift, Anthony Trollope and C S Lewis to contemporary writers like Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian and Robert McLiam Wilson.

'Unquestionably, Belfast now attracts global literary renown. Over the past four decades, literature has been our foremost imaginative export. Our staggering roll-call of stellar talent includes poets, novelists and playwrights renowned the world over - and, of course, a Nobel Laureate in Seamus Heaney. They are all talents who are equally distinguished and distinct,' added Councillor Browne.

'I hope that these tours will inspire both residents and visitors to find out more about our literary heritage, and explore it further.'

Every Sunday afternoon, there will be the chance to follow 'In the Footsteps of Lewis' travel back in time to the author's childhood in Ballyhackamore and explore the many locations which inspired and formed the world of Narnia, from Little Lea to Campbell College, St Mark's Church to the Castlereagh Hills.

Led by Lewis expert Sandy Smith, the tours - organised by Belfast City Council, in association with the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board - leave from outside the Linenhall Library at 2pm every Sunday, until September 27. Tickets cost £8 for adults or £5 for concessions/children, and are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre in Donegall Place.

The Belfast Literary Walking Tours follow a journey around the literary landmarks of central Belfast, from City Hall to Writers' Square, visiting the places that helped shape the work of many of the city's literary giants, past and present.

Setting off from the Crown Bar each Monday at 5pm, the tour takes in landmarks such as the Linen Hall Library, loved by Tom Paulin and Forrest Reid, the early 20th Century novelist whose mother took him there as a child, the site of the former International hotel, setting of the eponymous novel by Glenn Patterson, and Kelly's Cellars, as well as the likes of Amelia Street, once the red light district for travellers arriving at Great Victoria Street station, Rosemary Street and Writers' Square.

The hour-long tour finishes at the John Hewitt bar in Donegall Street. Tickets cost £5, or £3 for concessions. Click here to buy tickets or, alternatively, visit the Belfast Welcome Centre.

A companion Guide to Belfast's Literary Landscape is also available for those who wish to explore further or plot their own journey. It is available free of charge from the Welcome Centre, or to download from www.gotobelfast.com