Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mystic of the East

A bit of recent news that's semi-related to Astral Weeks ... The Connswater Community Greenway project, aimed at creating attractive and safe parkland for East Belfast's visitors and residents, has launched Mystic of the East, a self-guided trail that gives Van Morrison fans the opportunity to visit the Belfast locations the Irishman mentions in his songs. From the new story linked about:
The trail points fans to many of the places which are referenced in his lyrics and the accompanying map lets visitors listen to 12 song extracts at various key places thanks to the miracle of modern technology.

Using what's known as a QR Reader, which can be downloaded free from an app store to a phone or tablet, the visitor can play the segments of the 12 songs at the relevant locations.
The Mystic of the East trail, which was fully authorized by Morrison, officially welcomed its first visitors this past weekend. The trail's opening neatly coincided with Morrison's trio of performances at his former secondary school. As part of the EastSide Arts Festival, Morrison played at Orangefield High School, including one concert for former students and staff. Orangefield will officially close its doors at the end of the summer.

The Orangefield gigs and the Mystic of the East trail are two more examples of the dramatic change in Morrison's relationship with his native land. Once estranged from Northern Ireland for 12 years, Morrison has recently made Belfast a home base of sorts, a decision many attribute to the fact that his mother, Violet, still lives in the area. The Northern Irish Tourism Board is hoping "Van-related" tourism will help raise the country's profile—much like the HBO series "Game of Thrones" and the Titanic Museum.

And for those who are interested, the Mystic of the East trail (see the map above) features three stops with ties to Astral Weeks: the Belfast & County Down Railway, St. Donard's, and of course, Cyprus Avenue.

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