Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Peter McReynolds, has attended an event today to welcome the Belfast Buoys to their new home in Titanic Quarter, where they will remain on permanent display.
The buoys were given to Belfast City Council by the Commissioners of Irish Lights in 1983 and originally located in the Cathedral Gardens, which became affectionately known as 'Buoy Park'.
Regeneration of the area around Ulster University and the development of Titanic Quarter prompted plans for the buoys to find a new home near Abercorn Basin, as part of the Department for Communities’ Streets Ahead Project.
In January 2019, the landmarks were taken to the Irish Lights headquarters in DunLaoghaire for restoration. The distinctive buoys - which celebrate the city's maritime heritage – took up residence on the quays just as the Tall Ships arrived for the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival.
Each buoy weighs around 3 tonnes and is made of thick steel plates riveted together. They are hollow structures, filled with air to allow them to float, and they would have been secured in place by mooring chains, attached to a cast iron sinker sitting on the seabed.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Peter McReynolds, said: “It is wonderful to visit the Belfast Buoys and to see these iconic symbols of Belfast at their new home. Given their proximity to the water, in such a popular area for locals and tourists, their move to Titanic Quarter is very fitting.
“Belfast City Council, along with our city partners, is committed to increasing the value of tourism by £500 million by 2021 as part of the Belfast Agenda, the community plan for the city. Capitalising on our rich maritime heritage is an important part of the mix, and relocating the buoys to the Maritime Mile will assist by adding to the area’s growing appeal to visitors.”
James Eyre, Commercial Director of Titanic Quarter Ltd, said: “We are delighted that these iconic landmarks have been relocated to Titanic Quarter and we are very grateful for the support and dedication from our partners; Titanic Foundation, Belfast City Council, Department for Communities, Belfast Harbour and Commissioners of Irish Lights, for delivering such a fantastic project. Known for its rich maritime heritage, Titanic Quarter attracts 1 million visitors annually and has acquired the status of a premier global destination for leisure and business tourism. We look forward to welcoming more visitors to the Buoys over the summer months.”
Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, added: “We would like to thank the Commissioners of Irish Lights who have restored the buoys and repainted them in their traditional navigational colours. The three buoys are estimated to be around 80 years old, and would have been used by mariners to find a safe channel to and from port. Similar buoys would have been used in Belfast Harbour, marking the edges of the narrow Victoria Channel. The Buoys are an amazing addition to the Maritime Mile and it’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to explore the city’s rich maritime heritage.”
Mark O’Donnell from the Department for Communities said: “The Department is delighted to assist in the relocation of the Belfast Buoys from their old location in Cathedral Gardens to their new home in the Titanic Quarter. The new installation will complement the other unique attractions that are part of the Maritime Mile whilst also allowing for the redevelopment of Cathedral Gardens into an exciting new civic space.”