Discover Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter This Summer By Following The Fionn’s Window Ogham Plaque Trail

A series of interactive wooden plaques have been hidden around Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter as part of an art installation launched at the beginning of the summer.

Led by the Cathedral Quarter Trust, Fionn’s Window Ogham Trail is giving arts, heritage and culture fans the chance to discover the magic of the ancient druidic language of Ogham.

Artist Gawain Morrison, who created the project, is using the trail to encourage people to “Look up, Look Around, Look in” as the Ogham trail weaves around the art heart of the city.

And it’s not just for arts and heritage fans. Gawain said it’s a wonderful way to find out more about the Cathedral Quarter and discover some of the fantastic buildings, activities, art and culture scattered across the area.

He added: “The Cathedral Quarter is the cultural heart of Belfast, with arts organisations, venues, galleries, and amazing street art produced by local and international artists. I wanted my Summer Solstice artist offering to celebrate this beautiful creativity and the potency of life in the area whilst referencing the Ogham Grove that launched me on this journey. 

“I want people to come to this area, to take time to look up, look around, and look in, appreciate what we have, consider what we’d like it to become, and to divine your own journey if the notion takes you.”

The Fionn’s Window Ogham  Trail is presented by the Cathedral Quarter Trust (CQT) following on from the successful Culture NIght Belfast Ogham Grove  installation last year.

Susan Picken, Director of Cathedral Quarter Trust said the trail offers people the chance to get out and about whilst discovering the magic and history of this ancient language.

She added: “It’s lovely to be able to revisit the fascinating Ogham Tree Alphabet. For Fionn’s Window we are inviting people to use the Ogham symbols and their meanings as a way of divining their own personal journey – answering life questions or solving personal dilemmas. 

It’s an innovative, fun way of asking the universe a question and exploring the Cathedral Quarter at the same time.”

The Fionn’s Window trail will run in the Cathedral Quarter from Summer Solstice 2022 through to Winter Solstice 2022. 

Gawain explained how the trail works and how people can use it. 

“You are searching for four plaques: one for the question you want to ask, and one each for the past, the present and the future.”

Participants should choose a starting point in the Cathedral Quarter in a location that they can sit and contemplate and from where they will ask themselves a question of their choosing. They should then locate four plaques, scan the QR for each one and take a screenshot of the webpage that opens. 

By reading the information on each plaque, trail followers can use the meanings to interpret the answer to their question. The process can be repeated as many times as they wish. 

The project was inspired by Irish hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill, a warrior chieftain and druid who believed that human life was only a small part of the larger rhythms around us.​

Fionn’s Window, sometimes referred to as Fionn’s Shield, is the equivalent of a Tibetan mandala, a diagram of the psychic universe. ​

Gawain explained more of his inspirations. 

“Druids marked the boundaries of their areas with the characters from the ogham tree alphabet, leaving notes to those who would journey the same path. I wanted to highlight the areas of the Cathedral Quarter that have become natural areas for street art and where nature is growing back in between the art, theatre, music, circus and dance” he said.

Gawain did this by creating a stencil of the Ogham Grove logo that he sprayed in these locations using eco-friendly pigmented chalk paint that will eventually disappear with exposure to the elements. He sprayed these in the solstice colours of red, gold and orange 

Gawain revealed: “Our tribal ancestors lived in harmony with nature and it’s cycles, understood their place in the environment, and held trees in reverence. The Ogham Tree alphabet was symbolic of this with each tree associated with different themes, across the magical, spiritual, practical and medicinal.”

The tagline for last year’s Ogham Grove also created by Gawain which was part of the Cultural Night festival, was ‘Look Up, Look Around, Look In’. ‘Look In’ asked people to take time to consider the world around them and the things that they appreciate. 

Gawain wanted to use the project to “build on the Ogham journey that we launched in September last year, and focus on this aspect of divining your own journey using the characters and their spiritual meanings.”

You can read more here about the ways to frame your questions, what you need to do and how to derive insights from your personal Cathedral Quarter journey here >>

For more things to do across the Cathedral Quarter check out our events section here >>

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