City Hall to go dark for 80th anniversary of Belfast Blitz

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By Rebecca Black, PA

Belfast City Hall is set to go dark to mark the 80th anniversary of the city’s Blitz.

Across a number of nights of Nazi bombing raids in April and May 1941, some 1,000 people were killed and around 100,000 were left homeless.

Eight decades on, the devastation will be marked with two searchlights in the night sky, being beamed from the grounds of City Hall at around 9pm on Thursday.

Lord Mayor Frank McCoubrey said it is appropriate to pause and reflect on the major event in the city’s history.

“It had a devastating impact, not only in terms of the tragic loss of life, but also leaving thousands of people without a home,” he said.

“Some of our older generation will still have vivid memories of the Blitz; stories of bravery, hardship and survival.

“It’s important that we continue to remember this part of our city’s history and educate our younger generations, to help them understand the impact the Second World War had on Belfast and its people.”

Belfast’s shipyards manufacturing for the war effort marked the city as a target for the Luftwaffe, in what has been described as the worst wartime raid outside London in the UK.

The east wing of City Hall itself was extensively damaged in the raids.

Mr McCoubrey said: “The Lord Mayor at that time had the foresight to request the removal of the stained glass windows and they were stored in the basement of Mount Panther House in Co Down.

“Remarkably the ones in the Great Hall today are the original windows.”

A piece of shrapnel, believed to have come from the incendiary device that struck City Hall, is on display at the building as part of its visitor exhibition.

The iron spike was found in the central courtyard of the building on the morning following the bombing.

The Lord Mayor will also lay wreaths at City Cemetery and Milltown Cemetery earlier on Thursday at short ceremonies organised by the Northern Ireland War Museum, in line with current Covid-19 restrictions.

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