Page last updated at 06:15 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 07:15 UK

Dedicated blitz memorial for Belfast

By Ross McKee
BBC News

Bob Wright with Belfast blitz sculpture
Bob Wright, attendant at the NI War Memorial Hall, with the sculpture

The designer of the first national memorial to the hundreds killed in the Belfast blitz has recalled how her own family narrowly escaped injury in the bombing raids.

About 1,000 people perished in the city as a result of the attacks by German planes during April and May 1941.

On Thursday, a 5ft high bronze structure by Carolyn Mulholland symbolising the devastation will be officially dedicated at the Northern Ireland War Memorial Hall.

Carolyn said her own family had witnessed the impact of the blitz at first hand.

My older sister was in a cot upstairs when an incendiary bomb went through the house
Artist Carolyn Mulholland

"I wasn't born, but at the time of the blitz, my parents lived on the Limestone Road in Belfast," she said.

"My older sister was in a cot upstairs when an incendiary bomb went through the house and missed my sister's cot by about a foot.

"My mother cut out the lino with the burnt hole and I remember being shown it as a child. My parents were of a generation that didn't talk a great deal. They would roll their eyes and say it was terrible but no further."

The sculpture will be dedicated by the Dean of Belfast, Houston McKelvey, and features "positive and negative shapes" against a backdrop of fallen planks.

Carolyn, who is originally from Lurgan but now lives in Dublin, said she had been inspired to create the piece after seeing a photo of people affected by the bombings.

"When the commission was set up, I went looking for an idea and they showed me a lot of photos taken at the time," she said.

The destruction wrought in the city was immense. It needed to be recognised
John Hughes, NI War Memorial

"There was one photo taken of a mass of planks and rubble with a group of people standing nearby in shock.

"That gave me the idea. The criss-cross planks symbolise chaos, destruction and the violence of war really. The negative shapes represent those who died, the positive those left behind."

Northern Ireland War Memorial spokesman John Hughes said it was significant the structure was being dedicated on 16 April, 68 years to the day "900 people lost their lives" in one single raid.

"The reason why we got it was there was no nationally recognised memorial to the Belfast blitz," he said.

"The destruction wrought in the city was immense. It needed to be recognised.

"We are putting right what has been a great omission for the city of Belfast."



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