Oct
2015

Belfast Northern Ireland September 2015

 

Belfast Northern Ireland, what a weekend.

A grand view looking down at Belfast

 

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

Bridge over troubled water

Bridge over troubled water. Belfast- Northern Ireland, It reminded me in parts of Newcastle Upon Tyne, it’s industrial past, trying to move on and welcome tourism.

Shiny waterfront Belfast

Shiny waterfront Belfast

 

I couldn’t go to Belfast and not say anything about ‘the troubles’.

The troubles.’

I embarked on a degree course as a mature student at age 30  in 1992 at N.L.U North London University.!  I studied Humanities and my subjects were Irish & French studies.

After a year I dropped the French and switched to English. A fantastic course that absorbed me for years and I’m forever grateful for having that opportunity. I studied for 3 month at Galway University and I delighted in the chance to do so.

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.

You can’t say Belfast without mentioning the Murals.

 

On this journey we took a guided tour round Belfast the coach led us through the Shankhill Road , there we’re union jack flags everywhere, as well as Unionist murals at every turn. In such a tiny area almost a 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. Strangely enough after I returned from Belfast I was browsing online and came across an article in the Guardian recently titled.

will Belfast ever have a Berlin Wall moment and tear down its peace walls’?

Talks continue.

The Flag is everywhere in Belfast.

The Flag is everywhere in Belfast.

 

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.

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Rocks at Giant Causeway

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Looking out to sea

Fantastic Giants CausewayThe Hills are alive

Ode to rusty vessel!

Ode to rusty vessel!

 

The old vessel above is just outside on the river front of the area which is now called The Titanic Quarter.

Seeing theTitanic 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.

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 the 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 a really lovely lunch which was well needed after a cold morning and afternoon sight -seeing.

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

More about that next episode.

 

 

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