A giant sea shell will be washing up at Belfast City Hall on 31 August, Bank Holiday Monday, as part of the National Trust’s year-long celebration of the coast.
Featuring seaside smells, sounds, sights and tastes, the ‘Shellsphere’ will be a full sensory coastal experience which will transport you from the city centre to the North Coast or the shores of Strangford Lough.
As new research reveals that just 27% of people in Northern Ireland have been on a holiday to the UK coast, the conservation charity is hoping that the touring Shellsphere will help reconnect people to the wonders of our seaside.
The aromas of salty sea air, seaweed, caves and rock pools, the sounds of waves and seagulls and evocative interior lighting will recreate the magic of the coast in the heart of Belfast.
In addition to Shellsphere, the National Trust is showcasing some of Northern Ireland’s best coastal stories in a pop up exhibition on the Ewart building on Bedford Street in Belfast.
Passers-by and commuters will see 16 stories of wildlife, conservation, coastal villages and the people that live and work at our coast.
Phil Davidson, Wildlife & Countryside Advisor at the National Trust, commented: “The Northern Ireland coastline is a magical place and can offer such a diverse range of experiences – from a coastal walk to rock-pooling and just feeling a sense of freedom when kicking off your shoes. I think the coast offers a real sense of togetherness when you visit with loved ones, and this is what makes the coast so special to me.
“We’re hoping that the Shellsphere will trigger people’s love of the coast and encourage them to explore the great Northern Ireland coastline and create everlasting memories with their friends and family.”
2015 sees the 50th anniversary of the Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign - one of the longest running environmental campaigns in western Europe which has resulted in the charity managing and looking after more than 100 miles of coast in Northern Ireland, equating to over 22% of Northern Ireland’s coastline.
To celebrate this milestone the Trust is also inviting members of the public to help one of Britain’s most celebrated poets, Dr John Cooper Clarke, complete his specially commissioned poem– encouraging people to share their memories of the coast. Visitors to the shellsphere will be able to add their own unique contribution while also sharing online using #lovethecoast