Sunday, February 27, 2011


On the Tuesday of my week in Ireland, I decided that I would pop up to Northern Ireland to see Belfast as a day trip. I caught the train early from Wicklow, with the ticket seller insisting that I wait till Dublin to buy the onward portion, to save some euro. Two hours from Dublin, I arrived in Belfast's main train station, to find myself in the UK, with road signs in miles, and using Pound again.

A rainy day, as I walked around the grand City Hall building I was accosted by a tout selling tickets for the City Sightseeing Hop On-Hop Off tourist bus, and given the weather, jumped at it as the price fell in negotiations.

Taking the small group on the bus past the leaning Albert Memorial Clock, we then went along the riverfront, to the Titanic Quarter, having the dock where she launched pointed out. The bus then went out to the grounds of Stormont Estate, which was quite impressive.

Back through the city centre, the bus then took us out to the North Western areas of town, where 'The Troubles' occured, and an undercurrent still exists between Protestant and Catholic sides. This gave me a good overview of what all this is about, and pointed out many key spots, including many of the murals and the wall between the Shankill and Falls areas.

After getting off the bus, I walked along to one of the sights they had pointed out, being The Cathedral Church of Saint Anne. This captured my attention because of the large steel spire which seemed to be skewered into the roof, and through to where the alter would be. Walking in I took in the military reverence of the much of the chapel, including a stained glass window outlining the fourth stanza of the Ode to Remembrance. I read about the Spire of Hope, placed into the roof of this church dedicated to 'Nine 11' and the messages of hope and peace in relation to much of the world's conflicts.

Seeking a much more personalised, and on the ground look at the areas of 'The Troubles', I put a call in to the Black Taxi Tours, which I had had a recommendation about, and had found in one of the guide books I had picked up. My your picked me up from where I was, in his black cab, and took me back to the murals and trouble areas, but with a much more individualised and personal tour, explaination, and the chance to ask questions. This was really worthwhile, from a local's perspective and experience, and a more intimate look at the art around the areas, the monuments and memorials to different clashes and protests, and the significance of these sentiments today.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the blog on Belfast - we will be sure to do the taxi tour.


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