FOR those interested in Irish history Féile an Phobail is promising to be a real treat with many talks and tours diving into on all aspects of this part of Ireland’s amazing and storied past.

One such event beginning on Thursday – and taking place on several occasions over the festival – will allow Belfast’s rich history to be experienced through the Irish language as Seán Fennell takes groups on his ‘Graveyard Raiders’ tour, which will visit both Belfast City Cemetery and Milltown Cemetery, allowing those taking part to dive into the world of well-known people and events from the city's past – from rebels, to shipbuilders, writers and footballers from the heyday of the mighty Belfast Celtic.

Seán described what was on offer on his tour, which will be conducted through Irish, but will be open to anyone with any level of the language.

“Myself and Fionntán Ó Mealláin compiled an Irish language school resource based on the local history of the City Cemetery, and it led to me doing tours with schools with three or four taking part already, and publishing some books.

"The books, ‘Reilig Chathair Bhéal Feirste’ and ‘Reilig Bhaile Mhuilinn’ [can be purchased after the tour or from the Cultúrlann] complement the tour and also primary and secondary school curriculum, so our City Cemetery tour will include information on the Titanic and the likes of Samuel Scott, who was the first victim of the Titanic, falling and dying while building it in 1910 aged 15. We also visit the grave of Edward Harland of Harland and Wolff.”

Seán will be taking separate tours of both Belfast City Cemetery and Milltown Cemetery.

“The City Cemetery tour focuses on the industrialisation of Belfast, and we’ll touch on some of the subjects associated with that, such as the Titanic and the Shipyards. We also visit the graves of community activitists such as Terry Enright and Liam Andrews. We also visit some graves of those who helped build the Irish language movement in Belfast and were from a Protestant/Unionist background, and we talk about how everyone owns the Irish language, it doesn’t just belong to one particular group.”

“We go through Belfast history from the times of the Famine right up until the modern day. We also visit a few interesting characters’ graves, such as the grave of C S Lewis’ mother.”

On the tour of Milltown Cemetery Seán added: “We take a look at the people and characters who are buried there. As Milltown contains the Republican Plot there is more of recent Irish history, but it’s not all politics, we also focus a lot on Belfast Celtic and we will visit some of the graves of their most famous players such as Charlie Tully and Jimmy McAlinden.

"There are also Belfast Celtic players buried in City Cemetery too, so we show how Belfast Celtic were so big in their day that they crossed the divide, and were truly an all encompassing West Belfast team.

Seán said he helped develop his tour with help from prominent local historian Tom Hartley, who runs his own tours of Belfast City Cemetery, and will also be a part of this year’s Féile.

“I want to say a big thank you to Tom. He showed us the tricks of the trade and helped us out when we were writing the books.”

The dates and times for Seán’s tours are as follows:

City Cemetery Only Tour: Thu 4th, Fri 5th & Sat 6th, all 10am 

Milltown Cemetery Only Tour: Mon 8th 10am 

Seán’s tours are £5 per person, to book in advance email or contact 07419509529.