28 February 2006

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
28 February 2006

A new website depicting the lives of families in west Belfast almost a century ago has been launched.

The experience of residents in the Shankill and Falls before the First World War and the partition of Ireland, when Catholics and Protestants often lived on the same street, is outlined in new detail from data given by the 1911 census.

People who want to trace their ancestors can use the service to search for details and may also research the jobs and homes which shaped a large part of their relatives' lives.

Queen's University historian, Professor Liam Kennedy, is directing the pioneering project and said it showed a surprising degree of religious integration in housing.

"The cultural heritage of Belfast is more complex than many of us imagine and now, via our new website, it is possible to see the great similarities between Protestant and Catholic working-class families and indeed the extent to which their residence patterns intermingled.

"It is fascinating to discover how, in a way barely imaginable nowadays, some streets in west Belfast, particularly in the Grosvenor Road area, were shared by both Protestants and Catholics."

The website can be accessed by logging on to www.belfastfamilyhistory.com.

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