Belfast in Photos

We arrived in Dublin safely, on time, without a hitch at all, from a smooth and empty flight and into one of my favorite things: misty, fresh air. Nothing feels better after a long flight than stepping out of the airport and in to Ireland. It is truly one of my favorite moments in my whole life.

By 5:40 in the morning, we had coffee in hand, in our rental car and were speeding North in the pitch black morning, remembering that in Ireland, it doesn’t get light out until after 8:00 am in winter!

I have been to Ireland over a dozen times, in addition to my study abroad there, but I had never crossed the border into Northern Ireland, a place that has seen its share of tumultuous political and religious issues, sectarian violence, and for parts of its history, been a war zone, disputed over its rightful ownership.

My husband, on the other hand, had been to the North in his youth, and with memories of soldiers with machine guns on every corner, looked forward to visiting a Belfast at peace.

Our first stop was the shipyard of Harland and Wolff to view its massive cranes, Samson and Goliath. You will see the H & W on the yellow crane in the background, known for the most famous vessel built there, the Titanic.

Belfast Titanic

After we checked out the launching site of the Titanic, we wandered downtown Belfast, had a cappuccino, and enjoyed the mix of history and cosmopolitan charm the city has to offer.

Belfast City Hall

Belfast

And before we left town, we drove through the Falls Road area of Belfast, a predominantly Catholic, republican area of the city and one that, even at first glance, is extremely depressed. This area is known for its political murals, and while I have read and studied Irish history throughout my life, I don’t think I was quite prepared for the weight of the history that is still going on in this place.

Belfast murals

Belfast Murals

Falls Road is a rough area, and I did my best to capture photos without being obvious.

Belfast murals

Some murals remembered hunger strikers like Bobby Sands.

Bobby Sands mural

Others called for the youth of the country to rise up.

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Belfast Prison

Belfast Falls Road

Belfast

Belfast Falls Road

And others remembered the victims of the years of violence. These murals were across the street from peoples’ homes. Eric and I wondered what it would be like to be faced with this every time you leave your home.

Belfast Catholic

Belfast Catholic

Belfast murals

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Belfast tower block

I have always had my own opinions on the situation in Northern Ireland, and as someone who grew up in Ireland, my husband has always had his own as well. Unfortunately, as we were driving out of Belfast, we learned that the peace we had spoken so hopefully about, peace that seemed to be making progress, had been disrupted just hours earlier with a bomb placed on one of the very streets we had driven down. Hours later, we learned of a second bomb and counted our lucky stars these did not go off.

On our beautiful drive further North, we listened to the BBC on the radio and to discussions from both sides on the issues of Northern Ireland. It is such an incredibly complicated situation that I just do not know what to say.

We had a weighty but also beautiful and life-changing first day to our holiday. There is so much more to come. . . I hope you enjoy my guest posts in the meantime!

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Tags: Belfast, Northern Ireland, Travel

  1. Emily’s avatar

    Wow, so scary. I hope the rest of your trip is uneventful as far political unrest goes!

    Reply

  2. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

    That is a scary experience. I think we forget sometimes about conflicts going on outside of our own Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I’m glad you’re safe.

    Reply

  3. betsy’s avatar

    Love the shot of the Guernica through the window! Have fun!

    Reply

  4. Elizabeth’s avatar

    Thank you for the photos Meghan. Ireland is such a fascinating place and I feel like we rarely see pictures of Northern Ireland that aren’t for the purpose of depicting the violence. I truly enjoyed this.

    Reply

  5. Daisy’s avatar

    counting your lucky stars is right. especially to have missed the bomb ordeals, but to be experiencing this is so incredible. I had no idea that is what life is like in Northern Ireland. thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  6. kirsten’s avatar

    I did that same trip through those streets in 2006 – it is eerie. Enjoy your trip – I’m envious :) Are you going to Giant’s Causeway?

    Reply

  7. Megan’s avatar

    It definitely sounds like you had a good, albeit heavy, first day. Glad you got there safe and sound and you’re having a good time.

    Reply

  8. Raija’s avatar

    Thanks for sharing this post. Really thoughtful. Glad you are all safe and thinking of you both.

    Reply

  9. Michelle’s avatar

    Wow, I got chills reading this. Thinking of you and hubby right now…

    Reply

  10. Katie’s avatar

    Wow….so glad you are safe. Thanks for posting this, we take so very much for granted here. Please travel safe.

    Reply

  11. Alicia’s avatar

    Such an incredible experience and sight to see….Stay safe! and keep these posts about Ireland coming. I’ve never been and its on my list.

    These posts are making me crave some stamps on my passport.

    Reply

  12. Kelly’s avatar

    Wow those murals are amazing.
    I wish I had more time to understand the situations in so many different areas of the world. I knew that Northern Ireland was not always safe, but I definitely thought it had gotten better.

    Reply

  13. Judy’s avatar

    Stay safe in your travels. I’ve heard nothing about those bombs. It just shows how little we hear about what happens in the rest of the world. Certainly no one heard about the eents we encountered in Peru in November. At least it was non-violent.

    Reply

  14. Amanda L.’s avatar

    Your photos are amazing! Hope you are staying safe!

    Reply

  15. Kat@zomppa’s avatar

    Glad you enjoyed your time in Belfast and the North Antrim Coast. I grew up here in NI and in Italy, and after a stint in Washington D.C. for 5 years returned back to Northern Ireland 10 months ago. While in DC, I started a food magazine site, zomppa.com, with some friends, and I now contribute my posts from Ireland there.

    As for the bomb scares, I’m not terribly surprised that international news didn’t cover it, after all, we never hear about each shooting incident in Washington DC here on Northern Ireland tv. I know it may sound quite scary to Americans, but bomb scares and bomb threats are kind of a way of life here, and mostly done with a view to disrupt things and not to kill people. Warnings are always given to the police about where the bombs are, and secure explosions made. With the exception of the early 1970s and then the Omagh bombing 12 years ago (where an error in communication about the location of the planted bomb was given) nobody has been killed in a bomb incident in Northern Ireland. Just like you wouldn’t go into certain parts of South East D.C. certain times of the day, you stay away from certain parts of Belfast. Even then though, I have always felt far safer driving through the Falls Road or the Shankill than SouthEast DC as if you are not involved in the “troubles” here, nobody is going to come after you, and the stats of people killed or injured in cross-fires is vastly lower than the U.S. The Peace Process is progressing here, but you will always have dissatisfied factions of society that take it upon themselves to be disruptive. Thankfully, the vast majority of the people here do not support such activities and do want peace.

    On the food note, well done on getting through that Ulster Fry, it is truly an artery blocker which, for the most part, people here don’t consume that often ;) I have to admit that I am quite partial to an Ulster fry before a hike up in the Mourne mountains as it certainly keeps those energy levels up!

    Next time you are over, give us a shout! And to everyone, come visit Northern Ireland as it is safe and has some great food :)

    Reply

    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      Thank you so very much for such an insightful comment. There is a part of me that wishes the US news would give us a little more exposure to the world outside of our borders; I always find myself feeling so much more educated about world matters when we are in Europe and watching/reading/listening to news. After so many visits to Galway and the South, I was delighted to discover how friendly the people of NI were and how green, rugged, and beautiful the scenery is. Prices were reasonable, and I had just about the best salmon ever for dinner.

      We are already planning on returning, and I will let you know when we do. I am also a reader of zomppa.com, and it would be great to meet you!

      Thanks again!
      Meghan

      Reply

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