The idea of Thanksgiving Square was proposed by a Belfast woman, Myrtle Smyth, who was inspired by a visit to Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas. Lord Diljit Rana, chairman of the Thanksgiving Square charity that raised the $300,000 needed for the statue, said the aim of the project was to create some public space for giving thanks. “It will be a focal point for the community here in Northern Ireland, for everybody to get together, it doesn’t matter what their background is or religion, colour, or faith. The whole idea is to bring the community together,” he said.
Unlike the feature-rich Dallas square, Belfast’s Thanksgiving Square’s only memorable feature seems to be the 19.5 metres high statue, dedicated in 2007. It seems to go by many names — most commonly, “Beacon of Hope,” but also, on the plaque embedded in the pavement, “Statue of Harmony.” In the Irish tradition, she has been given several nicknames: These include Nuala with the Hula, the Belle on the Ball, the Thing with the Ring and the Angel of Thanksgiving. It was designed by Scottish Sculptor Andy Scott.
There are two descriptions of the statue and square on location:
This female figure represents various allegorical themes associated with hope and aspiration, peace and reconciliation and is derived from images from Classical and Celtic mythology. Her position on the globe signifies a unified approach to life on this earth. It encompasses oneness, while celebrating the diversity of culture that exists in our global village.
The aim of the sculpture is to bring people together and to change hearts and minds; to make bridges across the divides in our community. To work towards a peaceful, happy existence for everyone on this planet by respect for each other, their cultural heritages and all our aspirations.
This symbol creates a tangible first statement of our long term objective in bringing people together to foster a happy and fulfilling life for all and a sense of gratefulness for all that life has given us.