How the Scheme Works


The Ulster History Circle receives many proposals for blue plaques each year. To be considered for selection each person nominated has to meet the basic selection criteria. They must:

  • be dead for 20 years or, if less, would have reached the centenary of their birth; and
  • be associated with the nine counties of Ulster through birth, education, work, or vocation; and
  • have made a significant contribution to the development or delivery of education, industry, commerce, science, arts and literature, international affairs, or other calling locally, nationally, or internationally.

A proposed candidate who has already been publicly commemorated across Ulster, by way of an existing acknowledgement such as a monument, statue, or plaque will not normally be accepted for a Circle plaque.

The Circle is an entirely voluntary organisation, and relies on the support of local authorities, individuals, organisations, and businesses to fund its plaques. We have no funding of our own, and without funding in place no plaque proposal can proceed.

The Circle considers all proposals that meet the basic criteria. However, it must be appreciated that only a few of the proposals we receive are finally accepted. When accepted for selection, detailed research is carried out as necessary into the surviving addresses of candidates using sources such as biographies, street and electoral registers, and census and valuation records.

Only one plaque is allowed per person, so the building on which the plaque is to be placed must be chosen very carefully. When the candidate was born in Ulster, the Circle often first seeks to erect the plaque on the birth house, or any suitable replacement building on the same site. When there is no suitable replacement, or where it is in an inaccessible location or when the place of birth cannot be traced, it is usual to identify an alternative building in which the candidate was educated, lived, or worked. When the candidate was born outside Ulster, the most appropriate place of education, residence, or work may be selected.

Unless it is considered an exceptional case, buildings having Circle plaques should be visible from the public highway and openly accessible, without payment, for public view.

Before a plaque can be erected, the owners and occupiers of the building in question must give their consent. Any listed building permission, if required, must be obtained by the building owner. When all permissions are in place, the plaque is manufactured and fixed to the building by the Circle’s professional contractors. The Ulster History Circle organises all aspects of the plaque design, manufacture, and installation, but before this can happen funding in full must be assured. After installation the plaque remains the property of the Ulster History Circle.

Unveiling ceremonies are always held. Where possible these occasions are attended by descendants, relatives, friends and colleagues of the person being commemorated, and are regularly memorable, evocative and emotional events.

In all, it can take up to two years from the initial proposal to the erection of a plaque.

The presence of a plaque does not afford a building any statutory protection; it has, for example, no connection with listing. Plaques that have been removed in the course of redevelopment or renovation are always recovered and replaced later in the same or an alternative location nearby.

To Propose a Plaque

Proposers should be careful to make certain that a figure meets with the selection criteria, in particular, that they have been dead for at least 20 years or, if less, would have reached the centenary of their birth.

When contacting the Circle, proposers are requested to:

  • Give reasons why the nominated person deserves a blue plaque.
  • Provide information about their life and achievements, including a list of relevant biographical works or sources.
  • Suggest where possible as a plaque site the address(es) where they lived or worked, with dates of occupation if known.
  • Confirm that at the address(es) there is an original building still standing, or that there is a suitable replacement building on the site for the plaque.
  • Attach a photograph of the nominated address, where possible.
  • Suggest a possible source of funding for the plaque.

How the Scheme Works: The Stages

  1. Receipt accepted of a proposal to erect an Ulster History Circle blue plaque, including biographical details, suggested plaque location, funding source etc, as listed above.
  2. Consideration of proposal by the Circle, which meets regularly throughout the year.
  3. If a proposal is rejected, the application to proceed no further.
  4. If the Circle finds it is not able to reach a decision, then more research might be undertaken, or the matter deferred for reconsideration at a later date.
  5. When a proposal is accepted, a member of the Circle volunteers to lead on the delivery of the plaque.
  6. Financial support must be assured for the plaque at this stage from local authorities, individuals, organisations, or businesses. If such support cannot be obtained the plaque will not proceed further.
  7. The Circle member leading will then undertake to establish an appropriate location for the plaque; and
  8. Contact the owner/occupiers for permission to put up the plaque; if permission is withheld, alternative location(s) to be identified; and
  9. Agree the plaque’s size and exact position; and
  10. Ensure with owners any necessary planning consents have been obtained; and
  11. Contact any relatives, colleagues, and other interests.
  12. The Circle to write the text for the plaque, and agree this with relatives, as appropriate; final approval by the Circle.
  13. Plaque designed and sent for manufacture.
  14. Unveiling ceremony and guest speaker(s) organised by the Circle; e-invitations prepared and sent; press and media notified.
  15. Plaque ceremony with guests and person invited to unveil.

Please send all plaque proposals by email to: