How the Scheme Works


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

  • be dead for 20 years or, if less, have passed the centenary of their birth;
  • be associated with the province 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, politics, international affairs or other calling anywhere in the world.

A candidate who has already been publicly acknowledged, in Ulster, by way of an existing memorial e.g. monument, statue, plaque, named building or thoroughfare will normally not be accepted for a blue plaque.

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

The Circle considers all the suggestions that meet the basic criteria. Where accepted for selection, detailed research is carried out into the surviving addresses of candidates using sources such as biographies, street and electoral registers, and census and valuation records.

Generally, only one plaque is allowed per person, so the building on which the plaque is to be placed has to be chosen very carefully. Where the candidate was born in Ulster the Circle will seek to erect the plaque on the birth house, or any suitable replacement building on the same site. Where there is no suitable replacement, where it is in an inaccessible location or where the place of birth can not be traced, an alternative building, in which the candidate was educated, lived or worked, will be selected. In suitable cases, the site of a benefaction, e.g. Magee College, Londonderry can be used. Where the candidate was born outside Ulster, the most suitable place, education, residence or work will be selected.

Except in exceptional cases, buildings marked with plaques must be visible from the public highway

Before a plaque can be erected, the owners and occupiers of the building in question have to 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 produced and fixed to the building. 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.  

Unveiling ceremonies are always held. These occasions, where possible attended by descendants, friends and colleagues of the person being commemorated, and are often memorable, emotional events.

In all, it can take up to two years from the initial suggestion 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 recovered and replaced later in the same or an alternative location.

How the Scheme Works: Stages

  1. Receipt of suggestion to erect blue plaque
  2. Preparation of short biographical report.
  3. Consideration by the Circle, which meets twelve times a year
  4. If a suggestion is rejected, the application will proceed no further.
  5. If the Circle finds it is not able to reach a decision, then either more research is undertaken, or the matter is deferred for reconsideration at a later date
  6. If a suggestion is accepted, a member of the Circle is assigned to implement it.
  7. Financial support must be obtained for the plaque from appropriate District Councils, and/or from interested organisations and individuals. If support can not be obtained the plaque will not proceed.
  8. The Circle member willresearch the appropriate location of the plaque;
  9. contact the owner/occupiers for permission to mount the plaque. Where permission is withheld, identify alternative locations;
  10. agree its size and position;
  11. ensure that any necessary planning consents have been obtained;
  12. contact any relatives, colleagues and other interests;
  13. agree the wording of the plaque with relatives etc and the Circle and
  14. make arrangements for the ceremony.
  15. The Circle approves plaque design and other arrangements.
  16. Manufacture plaque
  17. Erect plaque

Propose a Plaque

Proposers should first make absolutely certain that a figure meets with the selection criteria. In particular, that he or she has been dead for at least 20 years, or has passed the centenary of his or her birth.

When contacting us, proposers are asked to:

  • Give reasons why the nominated person deserves a blue plaque
  • Provide information about his or her life and achievements, or a list of relevant biographical works or sources
  • List the addresses in which he or she lived or worked, with dates of occupation if known
  • Ensure that at least one of these buildings is still standing, or that there is a suitable building on the site
  • Enclose a photograph of the nominated address, where possible

Please contact us by email at