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Sound Links

Exploring the heritage and imagining the future of Townsend Street for Belfast 2024.

Townsend Street in Belfast has a rich history, and this year the Ulster Orchestra, Townsend Enterprise Park and Zeppo Arts are working on a new project exploring that history as part of Belfast 2024 – an ambitious cultural celebration that will see the city come to life with creative projects, events and civic initiatives taking place across Belfast throughout the year.


Townsend Street is one of only two points in Belfast where one can see the Farset River, the river that gave the city its name.

It also houses Townsend Enterprise Park and the former Townsend Presbyterian Church, which is now home to the Ulster Orchestra. In the past, the history of the street and its surroundings were buried by the degradation of the area and the legacy of Troubles-era interface gates.

For this project, we are working together with the local community, residents and the businesses of Townsend Enterprise Park so that the street will once again be firmly in the consciousness of the city.

What is Sound Links?

Sound Links is a community-informed project that will culminate in a community-led celebration of the street and its people on International Peace Day in September 2024. Here at the Ulster Orchestra we’re also looking forward to our role in the project, introducing ourselves to the area, in addition to telling the story of a forgotten part of Belfast’s history.

We want Sound Links to celebrate the heritage of the area. We have commissioned three new works as part of the project, by composers Úna Monaghan, Rory Friers and Jamie Thompson, which will be performed at Townsend Street Church. There will be more details on those commissions in the coming weeks and months.

(L-R) Composers Úna Monaghan, Rory Friers and Jamie Thompson

The final event on International Peace Day on 21 September is very much up for grabs: we’re keen to give ownership of what that should look, sound, and feel like to people in the surrounding area – see below for more details.

The story so far…

Over the past few months, we’ve held several consultation workshops in the local area where members of the public came to share their memories and stories of Townsend Street and offer their hopes and aspirations for the future.

We’ve also visited local schools, care homes, day centres and community groups, where our facilitators – writers Natasha Geary, Emily DeDakis, Fionnuala Kennedy and Maria McManus; and Ulster Orchestra Animateur Jonathan Simmance – worked with pupils, residents and attendees over several weeks to talk about their memories and ideas.

All of this material has been gathered together and given to our three composers to inform the music they are writing for the final event. We’ve been surprised and delighted by the variety of stories and ideas that have been shared with us during the workshops and can’t wait to see how they inspire the finished pieces.

We’d like to extend our deepest thanks to everyone who has participated so far and to the schools, groups and venues who have welcomed us so warmly into their spaces: St Comgall's - Ionad Eileen Howell, New Life City Church, Townsend Enterprise Park, Glenwood Primary School, St. Mary’s Primary School, City Way Day Centre, Bradley Manor Care Home, and Shankill Area Social History.

Have your say

We’re now hard at work designing and planning the final event: a street-wide block party on International Peace Day, 21 September 2024.

If you have any suggestions or ideas for this event you’d like to share, you can get in touch by 1 June 2024 via this online form, or by emailing [email protected].

Keep an eye on this page and our social media for updates!

We'll be working with Zeppo Arts to capture your stories of Townsend Street. If you'd like to contribute, please email us at [email protected] in the first instance. As we're using email to collect your contact details we need to explain what we're doing to protect the information you send us. You can find out more about that on our Privacy Policy page.

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