We began our day in Belfast with a very interesting and powerful tour of two neighbourhoods, very hostile to each other. Our first tour was with Robert from the Protestant community around the Shankill Road.
The Shankill is the blue-collar Protestant heartland in the west Belfast, the Falls Road its Catholic counterpart. At the height of the Troubles, tensions ran high here with gunmen roaming at night and bombers bombing by day.
Shankill Road, a predominantly Protestant and loyalist area of the city, and part of the route of the summer “Orange” marches.
We walked around the community looking at different murals and talking about the times of the Troubles, that began in August 1969. It was then that the two communities started to build separation barriers and later walls. We approached the main separation wall, called “Peace Wall,” at the end of the tour:
It was interesting to listen to Robert’s personal stories about the impact that those events had and still have on his life.
The gates separating the two communities are opened from 6:30 am till 6:30 pm. At this gate we said goodbye to our first guide and we met Robert from the Catholic neighbourhood built around the Falls Road.
Here is the “Peace Wall” on the Catholic side:
Another way to visit the neighbourhoods is to take a Black Taxi with a driver who will also be your guide. You can see them everywhere:
Falls Road. The heartland of the Catholic and republican community in Belfast, and notable for its many large murals depicting characters involved in the city’s religious and political history.
Robert was 14 when he joined the IRA, at the age of 18 he went to jail and spent 12 years there. He knew the 15 year old boy who was killed here, they used to play soccer together.
It was a very powerful tour. I am glad we had a chance to listen to both Roberts and to hear their stories.
Now, let’s look at other places in Belfast. Queen’s University:
Belfast City Hall:
Spirit of Belfast:
The leaning Albert Memorial Clock Tower:
Titanic Museum and the old Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, which was founded in 1862 and once employed 30,000 men.
Thank you for visiting Belfast with me!
Source: Robin Currie, Britain and Ireland. A Visual Tour of the Enchanted Isles. National Geographic. Washington, D.C.