Be warned ...this is a long post…more like a book!!!… but I hope you enjoy it …its one of those posts that you need to have a coffee and something yummy at hand …you know what I’m like when I post anything with a little history behind it.
With little time to explore Belfast , the answer, for us, was a tour bus. There is so much to take in, from what you see and what you hear from the guide, especially on this tour, that you need to do the trip at least thrice before thinking where you would want to jump on and off to see more …something for a future trip…and sadly I did not get as many decent shots as I hoped for …Hoorah I hear you shout. Click on them and they will enlarge.
We had two and a half free days to fit in things that would interest us all ….and that included shopping. As you can see on the previous post about W5, that took up one of the days and the half went to Kris’ shopping day ...note the Build-A- Bear box !!
so that left Tuesday for the trip …. and grown up shopping too.
I feel these photos only give you a tiny taste of what Belfast has to show you….the recent history and the beauty ….there is so much of both …but for me I started to understand more of what I had watched on the news all those years ago. I still want understand more so I shall have to read …and read both sides …. from the beginnings of the division and before …and then I still will only just begin to understand.
I have to say it is a complex city but there is a strong feeling that most never want to return to the horror of ‘The Troubles’ which lasted three decades, yet some cant quite feel totally safe, even today.
Flags fly on some lamp posts to remind you which part of the city you are in …mainly for tourists …as locals would know.
The dividing Peace Walls, which often began as make shift barricades, eventually towered 20 foot above street level but although many have gone, some communities want theirs to remain for safety. and some are there to remind all of us to ‘Give Peace a Chance‘ and are a canvas for those who want to speak with a brush …creating quite a tourist attraction.
There is so much I was totally unaware of and I had no idea that there were actual gates erected across some streets and later, doors in the ’peace walls’. In recent years gates and doors have been opened during daylight hours and some permanently.
I was surprised to read that in fact many walls were erected after the cease fire in 1994 to prevent sectarian street fights and intimidation and I found it unbelievable how close the two sides lived to each other and that a road could be a divide, one side unionist with decorated kerbs of red white and blue or republican, accordingly painted in their colours of green white and gold. Shankill (unionist area) and Falls (republican), now had meaning.
I wish I had managed to capture more of the amazing murals that were from both sides. The first is of Bobby Sands ....and all have stories to tell, behind the art.
This is The Crumlin Road goal …so often talked about on the news back then
And the high exterior fortifications of a police station brought home,a little more, what it must have been like.
I would love to have had more photos of this section but you might have got bored.
Harland and Wolff had played a large part in the creation of jobs in Belfast …at it peak it employed 35,000.
Harland, not yet 30, was a general manager of a small ship yard on Queens Island when he purchased it in 1858 … his then assistant Wolff, became his partner.
The ship yard built many famous ships including the ill-fated Titanic…1911 and the HMS Belfast …. 1938, now moored on the Thames ,London, having been saved from the scrap yard.
This is the Titanic Building where one can relive the story of the great ship from its conception to its discovery on the sea bed.
The decline for the company, began in the late 60’s but they still erected two huge gantry cranes …. Goliath in 1969, a mere 315 ft and then Samson, in 1974 at 348 ft. …not sure which is which in photos.
The company had been an innovator in the early years, hugely productive in the years between, so, when the need for the type of ship they built was no longer there, they turned to design, construction and restoration of such things as bridges. Now it is a dry dock which includes Samson and Goliath and supports a small work force but those magnificent cranes are now actually Historic Monuments which will tower above the city for the years to come.
This is the beauty that is Belfast
The original Belfast Castle was built in the 12th century and was situated in what is now Belfast City Centre. It was burnt to the ground in 1708 and is now marked only by street names.
It was decided to rebuild but this time on the out skirts, on the slopes of Cave Hill …now the Country Park, almost 400ft above sea level The building of it began in the early 1800’s using the Scottish Baronial style and was completed in 1877. It is probably more of a mansion than a castle, but has a commanding beauty as you catch your first glimpse. This is one stop I want to make next time I visit.
This beautiful country side is part of Belfast Castles estate and was used in some of the filming of ‘Game of Thrones’
Queens University Belfast was founded by Queen Victoria in 1845, although its academic foundations go back to 1811 ... its doors opened for students in 1849which makes it one of the 10 oldest universities in the UK.
Lastly ...if you are still with me ...this is The Big fish which stands by the Donegal Quay and was designed and sculpted by John Kindress, an Irish multi media artist. It was created to celebrate the regeneration of The River Lagan and is clad in ceramic tiles which are decorated in text and images that relate to Belfast’s history. Inside it is a Time Capsule, which might one day aid scholars of the future, in their quest to know more about those who lived there in 1999.
Told you it was a long post .... but I hope those who have managed to read it, have enjoyed my day on the Tour Bus....and the added notes
Take Care xx