I’m excited to share a wonderful opportunity with my readers!
Back in 2011, I took a whirlwind tour of England, Wales, and Ireland as part of my doctoral research on C.S. Lewis as Transformational Leader. In addition to a tour of The Kilns in Oxford, I traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, the place of Lewis’s birth. While there, I took a tour of the city with Lewis scholar Alexander “Sandy” Smith and loved every minute of it. Sandy is the author of the invaluable book C.S. Lewis and the Island of His Birth. The book is now beginning its second printing (so don’t sweat when you see how much third-parties are selling it on Amazon!). The tour provided me with rich experiences that greatly enhanced my research, and eventually inspired my contributing chapter on Flora Lewis in the book Women and C.S. Lewis: what his life and literature reveal for today’s culture.
Ireland did much to shape Lewis into the man he would become; so much of his personality and proclivities are “ulster” in origin. That is why I urge friends and fans of Lewis to visit Belfast. Lewis was inspired by his childhood in Ireland; he placed many hints of his life throughout his fiction and nonfiction works. Here are some highlights of my time there (all photos are property of Crystal Hurd):
Sandy Smith leading the tour
Place of Lewis’s birth near the Belfast shipyards
I preserved flowers from the yard surrounding the apartments where Lewis was born
The C.S Lewis Belfast tour gives you the opportunity to walk in Lewis’s shoes. One can view Little Lea and the residence of long-time friend and correspondent Arthur Greeves, drive around the docks where his grandfather operated a successful shipbuilding business, view the school of his youth, and even step foot inside St. Mark’s Parish where Lewis’s grandfather Reverend Hamilton preached many wonderful sermons as his grandchildren sat in the sanctuary (also there are stained glass windows honoring Albert and Flora Lewis there).
St. Mark’s Dundela
The famous “lion’s head” doorknob which some believe inspired the character of Aslan (P.S. St. Mark’s symbol was the lion)
“The Searcher” Statue
Since my visit, Belfast Tourism has erected a dozen statues inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia!
It was a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. Belfast is a fabulous city.
If you have ever wanted to go, now is the time.
This fall, Sandy is hosting a week-long tour of Belfast and surrounding counties connected to Lewis’s life and heritage.
More details of the tour are available at www.authenticulster.com.
Highlights of the tour include (per the website):
- 7 Nights accommodation and breakfast in the centrally located Jurys Inn, Belfast
- Tours of Lewis’s Belfast, the stunning North Antrim coast, the County Down that Lewis loved and to historic Lissan House in County Tyrone. All tours will be lead by Sandy Smith – Author of C S Lewis and the Island of his Birth.
- Dinner on 4 evenings, leaving 3 for dining as a personal choice.
- Lunch will be provided on two of the days as part of the programme leaving flexibility for the others.
- A visit to Titanic Belfast.
- Participation in the festival events. ( to be advised when the 2016 programme is finalised)
Click here to hear an interview with Sandy Smith on the All about Jack podcast.
Sandy tells me that they have many wonderful events planned, including lectures, stage pieces, and a talk on Lewis’s poetry in addition to the marvelous sights of Belfast which shaped the writer, apologist, and thinker we respect and admire.
Click here to watch a video about the tour and festival. A full itinerary is available now on the website. There are several videos which introduce the tour experience located at the authenticulster.com page.
Friends, this promises to be a trip of a lifetime. Please contact Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.