Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Belfast ~ Ireland

Ireland has always been on my ‘bucket list’ because of family connections.  With names like Hughes and Devlin in the family, there is no doubt there is some Irish heritage here.  So we made a visit to Belfast and it wasn’t in search of any family but there sure was a lot of ‘family’ names visible in the city!

Belfast City Hall
The population of Belfast proper has a population of over 300,000 and we found anyone we encountered to be friendly and welcoming.  It did have a big city appearance but a smaller city atmosphere.  We stayed in a hotel with great staff and very nice facilities.  Belfast has good Irish Guinness, pink city buses and delicious fish and chips, too!  I almost felt at home. 

Donegall Street
We spent only four days there but managed to see plenty.  We were staying in a downtown hotel so we had several walks around, rain (lots of that) or shine (not so much), to see the sights and churches.  Most days clocked over 8500 steps, even though we also spent time in buses and a cab on tours.

Bonbay Street Memorial
We took a Black Cab tour with Pat.  He has lived in Belfast all of his life and being of the age that he is, was there when the years of battles were happening, he was able to tell stories and incredible tales of what did happen during those days.  As much as we were aware of fighting going on back then, we sure did not have any way of knowing how fearful it was like to live there at the time.  We visited a memorial park on Bombay for those who lived there and lost their lives.  We’d recommend this tour to all who visit Belfast.

The Peace Wall
There is still a ‘wall’ in Belfast, called the Peace Wall and this we found not to be the most shocking but very interesting to learn about and see it is still there.  It was built to protect people that were being bombed and burned out of their homes back then and to this day, separating the Catholics and Protestants.  There is talk that this wall should be taken down but with controversy over that, it still stands. 

Peace Wall Gate
This was the shocking part, the gate is still closed and locked every night!  There is still a lot of animosity amongst them. Although as tourists we did not feel this, learning more will indicate that it hasn’t gone yet, and recent events have brought history to the fore again.  Hopefully history does not repeat itself. 

Parliament Building
The parliament building is often referred to as Stormont because it is located in the Stormont Estate.  We were admitted through the gate of the grand entrance leading up to this incredible building, which has sat empty without a sitting government for over two years now, holding the world record for this.

Lord Carson Statue
Just below this grand building is a statue of Sir Edward Carson, an Irish unionist politician as well as a barrister and judge.  He was the party leader between 1910 and 1921.  To some, this statue “symbolizes the widely held perception that Northern Ireland is Carson’s creation”.

The Titanic Museum
The city was known for the linen production, being the largest one in the world in the early 19th century, and was often called ‘Linenopolis’.  It was also the world’s largest major ship building center and built the RMS Titanic which sank on her maiden voyage in 1912.  Belfast is still a ship building center.  The Titanic Quarter is where the shipyards and the Titanic Museum are located.  Our time schedule just did not allow us time to visit the Titanic Museum but it sounds pretty impressive.

Murals with meanings
We took a bus tour around the city.  The Hop on Hop off bus tour has a real guide (lol) who tells the stories and history of the city as we made our way around. Many tours like this have the recordings to explain what we might be seeing so this was definitely much nicer to listen to and entertaining with some personality, too.  The city has a zillion murals to see and each one has a story. 

More murals

Just another sampling of the murals we viewed while riding the bus around Belfast.  We were on the top level of the bus so not easy getting good photos but you will understand when I say there were zillions of them.

We did spend a day out in the country and visiting the Giants Causeway and that was something to see!  More on that .

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