Ahead of the Humanists UK Convention in Belfast, Humanists UK and Northern Ireland Humanists are excited to announce the launch of a Humanist Heritage walk in collaboration with walking app Go Jauntly – this time exploring humanist history in Belfast.
Belfast is a city with a long, rich, and deep humanist heritage, spanning Enlightenment freethinkers, ethical societies, humanist pamphleteers, and a remarkable collection of humanist activists for civil rights, secularism, and inclusive education. This self-led walk introduces writers, philosophers, politicians, and scientists, all united by a tradition of thinking for themselves and acting for others.
From the Linen Hall Library, founded in 1788 ‘to improve the mind and excite a spirit of general enquiry’, to the hall in which Irish physicist John Tyndall delivered his infamous 1874 Belfast Address, calling for absolute freedom of enquiry, the city has long fostered a spirit of rational thought and radical ideas.
Inspired by the ideals of Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft, Belfast’s citizenry was fired from the 18th century with dreams of fairer government, religious toleration, and greater freedoms for all. Over the following centuries, many others took up the ideals they advocated, pioneering causes – like civil rights, inclusive education, and interfaith dialogue – which remain at the heart of Northern Ireland Humanists’ work today.
Since the launch of our other walks, thousands of people have explored the humanist history around Bloomsbury and Manchester. With over 40,000 active users per month, Go Jauntly is a great way to introduce people to the humanist heritage of the places they live, work, or visit. Founded to encourage more urban walking, and to enable people to preview walks before stepping out, our humanist tours (rich with additional imagery and information) can be looked at ahead of time, guide you as you walk, and referred to again later. Whether you’re planning a trip to Belfast or not, you can download the app and experience the walk today.
Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator commented:
‘Since its creation in 2016, Northern Ireland Humanists has gone from strength to strength, building on a remarkable tradition of humanist activism stretching back through history. Before Northern Ireland Humanists formally came into being, Humanists UK had already been active in Northern Ireland for decades, but the humanist tradition here is centuries old.
‘With a renewed focus on this heritage as part of our own anniversary celebrations last year, and the Humanist Heritage project marking 125 years of Humanists UK, this walk is another great opportunity to put the humanist presence in Northern Ireland firmly back on the map – and a great way to ring in the Humanists UK Convention weekend.’
Click here to go straight to the walk on the Go Jauntly app and website. Those in Belfast ahead of the Humanists UK Convention can also join in with a led walk on the morning of Friday 24 June, ahead of the Convention proper starting on Friday evening.
Northern Ireland Humanists is part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.
In 2021, Humanists UK celebrated its 125th anniversary with a renewed focus on its history. The Humanist Heritage website is a rich web resource that uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas.