Ruby Murray Plaque unveiling

Photographs from the Ruby Murray Blue Plaque unveiling


Photographs – left to right

  1. The location of the Blue Plaque to Ruby, at 337 Donegall Road, Belfast.
  2. Chris Spurr, Chairman Ulster History Circle looks on as Ruby Murray’s son and daughter Tim and Julie Murray address the guests.
  3. Tim and Julie unveil the UHC Blue Plaque to their mother.
  4. Michael Cameron who nominated Ruby Murray for the blue plaque, and  the writer of the ‘Ruby’ play at the Lyric Theatre, with Julie and Tim.
  5. Suzanne McGonagle , Irish News and Claire McNeilly, Belfast Telegraph interview Tim Murray.
  6. Sarah Bowden, acting director -Greater Village Regeneration Trust (3rd Left) and the ladies from GVRT, with ‘Duke Special’ who performed at the ceremony.

David Herbison plaque unveiling

Whilst widely known in Ballymena with a local park named after ‘The Bard of Dunclug’, little was known about his actual birthplace. With this in mind the Circle set about researching the birthplace and found that the actual Inn where David Herbison was born had been demolished. So for the blue plaque location, the corner of Lower Mill Street and Wellington Street was considered to be the closest to the Inn.

There was a large gathering of notable historians and academics at the site where Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle extended a warm welcome to visitors and guests. Before the Deputy Mayor of Ballymena, Councillor Timothy Gaston proudly unveiled the plaque; speeches were heard from Ian Crozier, CEO-Ulster Scots Agency who funded the plaque, followed by Dr. Frank Ferguson, director of the Centre for Irish and Scottish studies at the Ulster University.

Dr. Ivan Herbison, a descendant of the poet, regaled guests with a rendering of perhaps David Herbison’s most famous poem –

My Ain Native Toun.

Since I was a boy in my ain native toun,

There’s naething but bigging an pu’ing was’down,

The streets are grown wider, the houses are high

And half o’ their windows peer into the sky……………………

The assembled group then adjourned for refreshments to Ballymena Central Library at Pat’s Brae, courtesy of Mary Bradley, Libraries N.I. There Dr. Ivan Herbison gave an illustrated talk on his ancestor which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. This was the 195th Ulster History Circle blue plaque and the first one in the town of Ballymena.


Photographs from the plaque unveiling – left to right

  1. David Herbison – the Bard of Dunclug.
  2. Ian Crozier, the Chief Executive Ulster-Scots Agency, addresses guests.
  3. L.R. Ian Crozier, Dr. Ivan Herbison, a descendent of the poet, Councillor Timothy Gaston, Deputy Mayor of Ballymena  who unveiled the plaque, Dr. Frank Ferguson, Director – the Centre for Irish & Scottish Studies- Ulster University and Chris Spurr, Chairman, Ulster History Circle.
  4. L.R. Wilson Burgess, Liam Logan, Dr. Ivan Herbison, Chris Spurr with Mary Bradley, Ballymena Central Library.

St John Ervine plaque unveiling

One of Belfast’s writers and playwrights who was a lifelong friend of George Bernard Shaw was commemorated by the unveiling of a blue plaque on the school in Susan Street, east Belfast, where he attended as a young boy.

As Chris Spurr welcomed guests, he said, ‘St. John Ervine had come from the little streets of east Belfast to become one of the great international literary figures of the first half of the twentieth century. His novels, his biographies, his journalism, and above all his plays, show him to be a writer of worth’. 

 Brian Ervine, a distant relative of John Greer Ervine (he adopted the pen name St. John Ervine whilst in London) spoke about John’s parents being deaf, and also running a guest house for deaf people, off the Albertbridge Road. Much of young John’s childhood was spent with his grandmother who had a shop on the Albertbridge Road. It was thought that when St. John Ervine wrote his best known play, ‘Boyd’s Shop’, the inspiration had come from his time spent in his granny’s shop.

The importance of St. John Ervine’s work was again stressed when Damien Smyth of the Arts Council addressed guests. He said that the seven novels and biographies, including studies of Parnell, Carson, Oscar Wilde, Craigavon and George Bernard Shaw were legendary, and all from a man who deserved to be better remembered in his native city.

As Brian Ervine unveiled the blue plaque, he commented that  it was a proud moment for the Ervine family, and thanked the Belfast City Council and the Ulster History Circle for making the commemoration possible.  A day to remember in Susan Street.



Photographs from the unveiling ceremony – left to right

  1. Brian Ervine addresses the assembled guests, watched by his wife Linda Ervine and Councillor Sammy Douglas.
  2. Guests who attended the unveiling outside the former Westbourne Presbyterian Church School where the playwright attended.
  3. Brian Ervine unveils the blue plaque to his relative, Rev. Mervyn Gibson, Chris Spurr, Chairman, Ulster History Circle and Alan Boyd, Hon. Secretary, Ulster History Circle.

Harry Hollywood Plaque unveiling

Date of unveiling – 25th July, 2015.
Location – Victoria Lock, Omeath Road, Newry, Co. Armagh.

Photographs – left to right

  1. Harry Hollywood. Master Mariner.
  2. Chris Spurr, Chairman Ulster History Circle welcomes guests to the unveiling of the plaque at the Maritime Gardens, Victoria Locks, Newry.
  3. Eddie Quinn who unveiled the plaque and his wife Anne.
  4. James McArevey, PR officer, Newry Maritime Association with Mayor of Newry, Councillor Niaomi Baillie, Eddie Quinn, members of the NMA, and Adam Fisher representing Fishers Shipping who laid floral tributes. Also in the picture Chris Spurr, Chairman UHC and Danny Kennedy MLA.
  5. Chairman of the Newry Maritime Association, Michael O’Hare
  6. far right, with members of the Ulster History Circle, Eddie Quinn and Mayor Niaomi Baillie.
  7. Victorian lamppost especially commissioned by the Newry Maritime Association from Master Blacksmith, Michael Mallon, to hold the blue plaque.

Robert Denis Blanchflower Plaque unveiling

The sound of television cameras and the click of press shutters, broke the silence of the normally quiet residential Grace Avenue in east Belfast.  Sports starts mingled with politicians, community representatives and invited guests, to watch football legend Danny Blanchflower being commemorated by the unveiling of a blue plaque at his childhood home.

Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle said that the Circle was delighted that this remarkable man was being honoured, and thanked the Belfast City Council for their support in the funding of the plaque. Guests who included FIFA Vice President, Jim Boyce, household names such as Pat Jennings, Jackie Fullerton and Bertie Wright, the oldest living player who played with Danny at Glentoran, listened as the Chairman of the UHC said – ‘Danny Blanchflower’s contribution to the game he loved, whether as a player with the Glens, Spurs and Northern Ireland, or later as a manager, is acknowledged as being amongst the best’.

Danny Blanchflower’s daughters, Gayle Blanchflower and Susie Knight   watched with pride as glowing tributes were paid by Jim Boyce and Pat Jennings, and as television cameras recorded the occasion, Gayle Blanchflower unveiled the blue plaque to her iconic father. The unveiling was televised on BBC News at 1.00 pm. and was also live streamed to Tottenham Hotspur FC in London.

Guests adjourned to the Oval where Chairman, Stephen Henderson welcomed everyone to Danny Blanchflower’s first club where he was a player from 1945-1949.

As refreshments were served, further tributes to Danny were delivered by Jackie Fullerton and by Spur’s Head of Publishing, John Fennelly. John said that he was delighted to have been invited to such a wonderful occasion, to honour an Ulsterman who became a Spur’s team captain and who in the 1960-61 season had ensured that the team won their first 11 games (still a record for the top league in English football) and then eventually the league.  

The final words to such a memorable day were from Gayle Blanchflower who said- ‘the news of the plaque being commissioned came as a delightful surprise: I will never ever get over how Danny is still remembered after all these years. Not just by Northern Irish people, but throughout the world’. 



Photographs from the unveiling ceremony – left to right

  1. Chris Spurr, Chairman Ulster History Circle with Gayle Banchflower daughter of Danny Blanchflower, and Christa Glover, daughter of the late Jackie Banchflower.
  2. Jim Boyce, Vice President of FIFA with Pat Jennings, one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
  3. Gayle Blanchflower unveils the blue plaque to her father.
  4. The event attracted vast media attention.
  5. Members of the Ulster History Circle with Board members of Glentoran FC, Pat Jennings, Jackie Fullerton and John Fennelly of Tottenham Hotspur FC.

Thomas George-Farquhar Paterson plaque unveiling

On a very wet and windy morning in Armagh, guests gathered inside Armagh County Museum to hear many tributes to the man of which ‘Armagh could be forever proud’. These were the sentiments of Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle, as he welcomed the audience to the ceremony.

The blue plaque to Thomas George Farquhar Paterson or ‘TGF’ as he was known was commemorating Armagh Museum’s first full time curator, and it was also the first Ulster History Circle blue plaque to be put up in Armagh City.

Roger Weatherup, former curator of the Museum and who worked as deputy curator to ‘TGF’ spoke fondly of the man who was making history that morning. A man, who had a great passion for history and who, without any formal academic training, developed his interest to the extent of becoming an acknowledged authority on the country he loved.  His writings were legendary, and he also wrote under the pseudonym of ‘Cornascreeb’ and contributed to local papers.  Guests listened intently as Roger told of ‘TGF’ appointment in 1931, as honorary curator of the Armagh Natural History and Philosophical Society Museum, and then later when it was renamed Armagh County Museum, his appointment as the first permanent curator.  During the 32 years until his retirement, Thomas George Farquhar Paterson became a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and in 1954 he was awarded an OBE.  When he retired in 1963, he was appointed Honorary Advisor to the Museum because of his long and devoted service, and continued to live in the caretaker’s residence.

Students from the Royal School Armagh also took part in the proceedings and read several poems and stories by ‘TGF’. Then braving the wind and rain, guests adjourned to Charlemont Gardens, beside the Museum, where they watched history being made when Roger Weatherup and Patricia Paterson, niece of ‘TGF’ unveiled the blue plaque.


Photos from the Plaque unveiling ceremony – Left to right

  1. Roger Weatherup, former curator of Armagh County Museum addresses the audience inside the Museum.
  2. A selection of the guests and friends who attended.
  3. L.R. Chris Spurr, Chairman Ulster History Circle, Roger Weatherup and Mrs. Patricia Paterson who unveiled the blue plaque, and Peter Cavan Ulster History Circle.
  4. Edith Graham, Friends of Armagh Museum with Roger Weatherup.

Thomas George Farquhar Paterson 1888-1971

Location of plaque – Charlemont Gardens, beside Armagh County Museum, the Mall East, Armagh City, Co.Armagh.
Date of unveiling – 12th March 2015.
Unveiled by Mr. Roger Weatherup and Mrs. Patricia Paterson.
Funded by – Friends of Armagh County Museum and Friends of the Ulster Museum.

Patricia Mulholland plaque unveiling

Report on plaque unveiling to follow……

Photographs fro the Unveiling ceremony:-


Photos left to right:-

  1. Guests who travelled from Dublin and Cork for the unveiling.
  2. Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle,2nd left, and committee members with Councillor Nicola Mallon, Lord Mayor of Belfast.
  3. Jude Cumiskey, who nominated her Aunt for a Blue Plaque.
  4. The Lord Mayor unveils the plaque.
  5. The O’Neill/Mulholland extended families.
  6. Past and present members of the Patricia Mulholland School of Irish Dancing together with Lord Mayor, Nicola Mallon


Samuel Bennett Crooks Plaque unveiling

In I976 when there was very little to smile about that Christmas, one man’s proclamation of faith and of the gospel, commenced a ‘Sit Out’ for charities which in the ensuing decades was to make him a household name.  Dean Sammy Crooks, or the ‘Black Santa’ as he became known and loved, lived by his faith, and in the faith of the generosity of the Belfast people.

As Dean of St. Anne’s Cathedral, he dressed in his long back Canterbury cloak and balaclava helmet to ward off the cold, and could be found sitting outside the Cathedral with his barrel for the monies he would collect. As the years rolled on, so did the amount collected for local charities increase.  Before retiring as Dean, on Christmas Eve I984, Dean Crooks completed his last ‘Sit-Out’, collecting more than £11,000 on that day alone, to complete a final total of over £53,000. A long way from the I976 figure of £784.

So it was most appropriate to the memory of the man who was also called ‘Dean Sammy’ and the ‘People’s Dean’, that an Ulster History blue plaque would be unveiled on the day on which the Very Rev. John Mann, the Dean of Belfast, would launch the 20I4 Christmas ‘Sit-out’.  A large number of guests gathered inside the Cathedral to hear Chris Spurr, the Chairman of the Ulster History Circle, welcome guests and friends.

(The Circle’s Hon. Secretary, Alan Boyd, had proposed the plaque. He was a former chorister at the Cathedral, had a 50 year association with the magnificent Church).

All present listened intently to the speeches given by Lord Eames, former Archbishop of Armagh and a close friend of Dean Crooks, and to the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev. John Mann. Before going outside to unveil the blue plaque, Dean Crooks’ son, Sam who had travelled from England for the ceremony, thanked the Ulster History Circle, the Cathedral Board, and all those who had made the commemoration possible. Sam said that his father would have welcomed the continuation of the ‘Sit-Out’ and that he had loved the Cathedral.  ‘I see the plaque not only as a tribute to my father, but also to the generosity of the people.  I believe the plaque will be a tribute to the continuing work of this great Cathedral, and a tribute also to that great man who started it all 38 years ago’,  he concluded.

Following the unveiling, guests adjourned inside for refreshments, whilst Dean Mann wheeled his barrel to the Cathedral steps to commence the 20I4 Christmas ‘Sit-Out’.

As with all the Deans since Dean Sammy Crooks, he was dressed in the long black cloak and woolly helmet, thus maintaining the tradition of the ‘Black Santa’.

Photographs from the unveiling event:-


Photos left to right:-

  1. L-R. Chris Spurr, Chairman, Ulster History Circle, Lord Eames, former Archbishop of Armagh and Alan Boyd, Hon. Secretary, Ulster History Circle.
  2. L-R. Cyril King, Elsie Watson, Geoffrey Blower and Heather Grindle.
  3. Sam Crooks, son of Dean Crooks and Clive Scoular.
  4. Sam Crooks unveils the Blue Plaque to his father, Dean Crooks, the first Black Santa.
  5. L-R. The Rt. Rev. Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor, Chris Spurr, Chairman, Ulster History Circle, the Very Rev. John Mann, Dean of Belfast and current Black Santa, Sam Crooks, son of Dean Crooks, and Lord Eames, former Archbishop of Armagh.