The name Belfast is derived from the Irish Béal Feirsde, which was later spelled Béal Feirste. The word Béal means "mouth" while Feirsde/Feirste is plural and refers to a sandbar or ford across a river's mouth.
The name would thus translate as "mouth (of the) sandbars" or "mouth (of the) fords". These sandbars formed where two rivers met (at what is now Donegall Quay) and flowed into Belfast Lough. This area was the hub around which the settlement developed.
It is a common misconception that Belfast was simply named after the River Farset, which flows through the city. However, it would appear that both the settlement and the river were named after these sandbar crossings.
*** So, this confirms what I have wriiten on my Belfast homepage is just a joke ;)
If you;re lucky enough to be in this wonderful part of the world in the summer you may get to see your very own orange order parade. This is a good experience for all, unless you are stuck in a car behind 300 flute players. You should definately try to see one as it is important in understanding the history and tensions that surround the area. For a low-key, riot free parade check the papers and news in July and August times. Most pass peacefully if not conflicting with a nationalist area interface. Head for connswater (loyalist) area, but stay well clear of the short strand (nationalist area) or you could be in for a fright!!
Alot of teenagers may come up to you on the street and ask "spare us a feg mate"(perticularly on a friday/saturday night or during the holidays when they are off school) basicaly they're asking you to give them a ciggerette.
They do not see it as being rude, but some people may, so do'nt be insulted if it happens to you.
just to let you know, in northern ireland you wont be allowed in most pubs in a baseball cap or football shirt. i thought this was perfectly normal until i went to uni in scotland and saw people in the pubs in their football gear.