ASLAN THE LION AT CONNSWATER IN BELFAST
CS Lewis Square, the latest phase of the £40m Connswater Greenway regeneration project, has opened in Belfast in 2016 but I did not visit until a year or two later.
The magical space, dedicated to Belfast’s most famous authors, marks the life and work of Lewis, who spent his early childhood in east Belfast.
Located at the intersection of the Connswater and Comber Greenways, the £2.5m square features seven sculptures created by Irish artist Maurice Harron, based on characters from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Aslan is a major character in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series. He is the only character to appear in all seven books of the series. Aslan is depicted as a talking lion, and is described as the King of Beasts, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and the King above all High Kings in Narnia.
C.S. Lewis often capitalises the word lion in reference to Aslan since he parallels Jesus as the “Lion of Judah” in Christian theology. The word aslan means “lion” in Turkish.
Aslan is first mentioned by Mr. Beaver when the Pevensie children arrive in Narnia. He is described by Mr. Beaver as being the true king of Narnia who has returned to help the Pevensies to free Narnia of the White Witch’s rule.
Mr and Mrs. Beaver guides Peter, Susan and Lucy to the stone table to meet Aslan. They inform Aslan that Edmund has betrayed them by joining the White Witch. Aslan sends some of his followers to rescue Edmund. The next day, Aslan is approached by the White Witch who demands her right to kill Edmund, as the deep magic states that all traitors belong to her. Aslan discusses the matter in private with the Witch, persuading her to release Edmund.
That same night, Aslan travels to the stone table with Susan and Lucy. The Witch and her followers bind Aslan to the stone table – it is revealed that Aslan had agreed to be killed to save Edmund. However, due to a deeper magic (which the Witch was unaware of), Aslan is brought back to life and manages to rescue his followers who have been turned to stone by the Witch. He brings his followers to the battle where he kills the Witch himself, ending her tyranny once and for all.
Aslan is present at the coronation of the four Pevensie children. He then leaves to attend to other duties with Mr. Beaver convincing the Pevensie children that he will be coming and going.
The streets of Belfast have been built on top of rivers that still flow far below the city’s pavements.
Both the Farset and the Blackstaff rivers determined the shape of the city that grew up around the narrowest bridging point of the Farset, where High Street is today.
And the little-known river even gave Belfast its name, Béal feirste (the mouth of the Farset). Farset comes from the Irish word for sandbar.
With Titanic Quarter on one side and east Belfast and Victoria Park on the other, the River Connswater is another of Belfast’s defining waterways. The opening of the Sam Thompson Bridge was one of the first steps in transforming the landscape of the river’s entire course. The bridge links the Harbour Estate and Titanic Quarter.
The Connswater rises in the Castlereagh hills and runs northwards through east Belfast, getting wider until it reaches the sea at Belfast Lough.