We arrived in Belfast Wednesday afternoon the 16th and after settling in did a bit of walking which took us to the Crown Bar, the oldest pub in NI, and across the campus of Queen’s University to the stunning Botanic Gardens Park.
We then made arrangements for a “Black Cab” tour of Belfast for Thursday morning, and an afternoon tour of the former shipyards site of H&W where the Titanic and her sister ships were constructed.
Belfast has been a city torn by conflict since 1968. On the surface the division is Catholic vs Protestant, Loyalist vs Nationalist, but in reality it is much more complicated than that with roots that go deep into history. The Battle of the Boyne which was fought over 400 years ago, remains a current event. In 1968 ethno-nationalist riots broke out that were quelled by British troops and the erection of 40 foot high walls to separate the factions. Paramilitary organizations on both sides then prosecuted a 30 year long guerrilla war that resolved in a cease fire in 1998. The 30 years of the active conflict saw over 3,500 killed and nearly 50,000 injured. The troops are gone, but the wall remains operational. A “battle” of competing murals and annual bonfires lit on the 11th of July are a more benign continuation of the tensions that are known throughout Ireland as “The Troubles”.
The depth and complexity of the conflict and aftermath invite further examination. I have included links to three articles that may give additional insight..
Our “Black Cab” tour driver gave an excellent and balanced narrative, stopping at important locations and murals. This tour was the highlight of our stay in Belfast.
The Titanic Museum tour is at the site of the construction and launch of the vessel in 1911. Included was a tour of the “Nomadic”, one of the Titanic’s passenger tender vessels and the last remaining White Star Line ship. The Nomadic has been painstakingly restored, and even has its original 19th Century “Crapper” toilets.
The Museum was “touristy” but worth the visit. I will just leave it at that.
We leave in a few hours for the ferry to Scotland.
Peace Everyone. Pete