It was on a visit to Paris some years ago that the inspiration struck me. Parc Asterix was based around the story of Asterix the Gaul, which I had avidly consumed from the comic books as a child. At the theme park, local cultural influences were used to inform the youngsters visiting the park about their own local heritage. And I started thinking, what if we had a park like this in northern Ireland?
I started there and then to write down the ways this idea could be developed. I thought about the stories and the people I’d read about in Irish culture. St Patrick, Mary Ann McCracken, the giants of the Giants Causeway, the Pirate Queen, Niall of the Nine Hostages, ….. Some people’s stories were based in northern Ireland, others further south or across the border in County Donegal. I wrote it all down, and soon wondered how it could be developed. The first place I approached was Bryson House in Belfast, where it was read and praised as a brilliant idea, but suggested I should work on a ‘business plan’. And there was astonishment that a nurse (as I was then) could create an imaginative plan such as this. I felt honoured, and started finding out about business plans. Sadly, I was to discover this was not my forte!
The idea lay in a cupboard for years, followed by a few new attempts to raise interest and work on how to do a business plan. Then in 2017, I noticed a request from Belfast City Council for ideas on uses for the area called ‘The Giants Park’, an area of reclaimed land on the western shore of Belfast Lough. I contacted the council by email, and had a reply from Sabine Kalke, project sponsor for Belfast City Council Property and Projects. She invited me to take a tour of the site and discuss my ideas. She and the site manager were very enthusiastic, and showed me and area of the Giants’ Park site that would be suitable. Sabine suggested seeing a person at Ards and North Down Council’s Go For It programme. They were also enthusiastic, and in turn referred me to a business advisor at the UnLtd portal, and gave me pointers to people who might help do the business plan. However all these suggestions failed as there seemed little interest. Sabine had felt that funding could come from Peace Money, Cities of Culture money or even council funds, but these seem to have failed. So it seemed that despite initial interest, and indeed enthusiasm, the problem is funding. So in case anyone else might show interest, I am posting my idea here as copyright, for anyone else to read, hoping someone may help provide either funding or a business plan, which I outline here below.
A THEME PARK FOR BELFAST 2017……IMAGINE……..!!
To enable all residents all residents of Ireland, especially those in the north, to find a way