Oct
2015

Belfast Northern Ireland September 2015

Belfast Northern Ireland, what a weekend.

 

I had been meaning to visit Belfast Northern Ireland for many years, and eventually made the effort to do so.

 

I couldn’t go to Belfast and not say anything about ‘the troubles. Irish is in my blood.I felt I Ever since I made enquiries into my background and where my roots were, I had started taking an interest in `irish history. Firstly I had to gain enough qualifications to get into university. I did that. My life as a mature student age 30  in 1992 at N.L.U North London University began. People often laugh at Humanities and Media studies but that’s what i took. But specialised in Irish & French studies.  I was literary and intellectually curious but did not possess the brain that learns language well, After a year I dropped French and  switched it to English. I loved French literature and politics but could not deal with Grammar. 

It was a fantastic course which absorbed me for years. I was thrilled to go and live and study for 3 month at Galway University.  It was always challenging but worth it. For my dissertation (10,000 words) I chose to write about the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland. It started with good intentions but I  felt lost and overwhelmed – and in way too deep. Although I originally was sympathetic to the Nationalist cause, I had to be objective. I got through it but strangely I had never visited Belfast before now.

 

On this journey we took a guided tour around Belfast the coach led us through Shankhill Road, there were union jack flags everywhere, as well as Unionist murals at every turn. In such a tiny area almost 100 peace walls exist, heavy gates, and even an old prison.

The commentator relayed the tales of the troubles. The whole area felt claustrophobic oppressive and very sad. Although I’d studied Irish studies and covered the ‘troubles’ many years ago and thought I knew about the area; there was nothing like seeing it so close. It felt extremely intense and I fought to hold back the tears but couldn’t it was just awful.

Almost 3,000 lives lost there. 

 

The following day we took a coach tour to The Giant’s Causeway somewhat hungover after a night out in Belfast’s many bars

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Myself looking a bit chubby-cheeked and the cockney mole, my travelling -walking companion.

 

People travel from afar to see The Giants Causeway County Antrim

 

 

The Titanic Quarter.

Seeing the Titanic experience really brought home how grand a city Belfast once was. Perhaps will be again.  The exhibition was full of visual experiences illustrating the  Titanic experience from the building of the ship and the impact it had on the economy of Belfast. It was thrilling, grand, and ultimately tragic.

Historic Belfast

The whole city was booming from employment at Belfast shipyards as well as the massive economic rise from the linen industry; the Titanic was massive for Belfast.

In part of the tour you actually get into a car similar to going on a ghost train, it takes you deep down to the bottom of the recreated ship where you can see where the boiler makers and all of the crew worked, in extreme dark.

 Emerging from the dark, there are further displays of the ship, different floors show it from different levels and angles video and audio recordings, give you a sense of the dizzy heights the richest millionaires would have felt floating 1st class on this magnificent ship, and the depths of the toil workers endured day and night to build this ship.

After the Titanic experience, we visited St Georges 19th century indoor Market which was packed with stalls, too many food stalls, and live music

We had a browse bought a couple of items, then walked back to the Botanic Quarter to pick up our luggage. We had our farewell drink and lunch at The Woodworkers, a new bar with the best craft beers on six rotating taps. A wide selection of beers a very relaxed atmosphere, and decent music.

Previous to this we had found an Egyptian café in the same area close to the University,  I loved the fact that we were given warm hospitality and a really lovely lunch which was well needed after a cold morning on the top of the open air bus around Belfast.

Since being back I have joined up with a new walking group

More about that next episode.

 

 

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