Belfast Celtic 1891 - 1949

Belfast Museum Opening

Belfast Celts Reign Again in Paradise

Sixty one years after Belfast Celtic left the footballing stage, they have returned to ‘ Paradise’. The Belfast Celtic Society’s new museum space was officially opened by star striker Jimmy Jones, Paddy Bonnar’s daughter Heidi and Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery on Saturday, July 3 2010.

Situated in a major unit inside the Park shopping centre, on the site of the old Celtic Park on the Donegall Road, the museum opening was tremendously received by hundreds of well-wishers and grand old fans. Filled with memorabilia and items of nostalgia, the museum is the culmination of a major push by the Society to raise awareness on the history of Belfast Celtic.

Paddy Bonnar’s daughter, Heidi Boyle and Former Player Jimmy Jones Opening the Museum

Belfast Celtic’s great rivals Linfield were represented on the day by their Chairman Jim Kerr and other Board members – and they came bearing gifts, a £100 donation to help fund the museum. The Celtic Supporters Club of Norway also passed on a £250 donation and were warmly thanked on the day by Society Chair Padraig Coyle – a solid round of applause greeting the news of the financial boost, while good wishes rolled in from Singapore, Kenya, Australia and Canada.


Former players Stan Duncan and Gerry Burrell were in attendance, as was the legendary Michael McGuigan – trainer of Belfast Celtic and a major cog in the gears of the sporting machine created by Manager Elisha Scott in the 1930’s and 40’s. The memorabilia is now on constant display in the windows of the unit, with a helpful key explaining each item and its significance. A well designed timeline also charts the history of the club from its inception in 1891 to its demise in 1949.

Items on display include an immaculately maintained jersey, worn by Celtic star Paddy Bonnar, who lived in the shadow of the ground, in Rodney Parade. Medals belonging to Joe Douglas and Billy McMillen, stars of the 1940’s era, are impressively arrayed. An all-Ireland international jersey, dated from the 1920’s, also sits beside an international ‘cap’, dated 1909-1910.

Top row, left to right: Belfast Celtic fan Jimmy Overend, Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery, Former Celtic player Stan Duncan. Bottom Row, Left to Right: Former Celtic trainer, and keeper of Elisha Scott's Black Book, Michael McGuigan, star striker Jimmy Jones and former Belfast Celtic, Dundee and St Mirren star Gerry Burrell.
In April 2010, the Irish Football Association invited the Belfast Celtic Society to Windsor Park to meet with followers of Linfield to discuss the events that led to the withdrawal of Celtic from football. Old style Celtic and Linfield jerseys were signed by all participants and these are now mounted and on display in the museum.

A special ‘wall’ dedicated to the 1949 tour of the USA, when Belfast Celtic trumped British Champions Scotland, is also on show along with portraits of Celtic teams from different eras.


The peerless Charles Patrick Tully, Belfast Celtic’s greatest export, is also well represented in the exhibition, with pictures, books, medals and other items connected to the career of Belfast’s Cheeky Chappy on show for Celtic fans.

Everyone attending the event signed the guestbook and a specially commissioned Belfast Celtic poster was also signed by all in attendance, a remarkable record of the day, which is now on display in the museum.

Local artist Martin Dillon framed an impressive mural in the unit, taken from a picture of the team at Dalymount Park in Dublin in 1943, as they competed for the Inter-City Cup.

Mural painted by local artist Martin Dillon, depicting the Celtic team that played in the Inter City Cup at Dalymount Park in Dublin in 1943. The team pic includes Charlie Tully, Captain Harry Walker and the legendary Paddy Bonnar.

Thanks were heaped on Chris Newton and John Boyle from Park Centre, who have backed the project so impressively and also to dozens of others who helped make the dream of a Belfast Celtic repository an absolute reality.

The fact that the history of Belfast’s Grand Old Club is now available for new generations of football fans is a source of pride to everyone in the Society and further events will be held at the location in the near future.

The entire event was recorded by local film maker Martin McAuley and will be available on DVD before the end of the summer.

Note: The pictures accompanying this article are re-produced with the kind permission of JFK Photography. Thanks for you help John!

One year old Oisin Scanlon has high hopes for the future