Belfast Off The Beaten Path

  • Explanatory plaque
    Explanatory plaque
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  • Look for this sign.
    Look for this sign.
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    Here's the archway
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Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Belfast

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    Take an Autumnal Walk

    by Traveldi Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    We have some lovely parks and walks in Belfast and they are FREE!

    Botanic Park near Queens University

    Ormeau Park - Metro 7 Bus from City Centre

    Belvoir Forest and the Lagan Towpath - great.

    see www.parks.belfastcity.gov.uk

    sometimes there are guided walks available - enjoy the autumn leaves!

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    The first Catholic church in Belfast.

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    St Mary's

    St Mary's was opened in 1784 and was the first Catholic church in the city. At the time, there were 385 Catholics listed as living in Belfast.

    There were no sectarian issues then...Protestants contributed to its construction, and the 1st Belfast Volunteer Company presented a guard of honour to the priest as he entered the church for the first time.

    Next door to the church is a grotto and rose garden, created in 1954 and dedicated to the manifestations of Mary at Lourdes, Knock and Fatima.

    The church is in Chapel Lane, in the city centre.

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    The Europa Hotel

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    Europa Hotel

    A 4* hotel, but known as 'the most-bombed hotel in Europe' during the Troubles.

    It was damaged 33 times by Provisional IRA bombs between 1972 and 1994, possibly because it provided a base for journalists and media people covering the Troubles.

    The first manager, Harper Brown, received an MBE for keeping the hotel open. Once, the IRA brought in a bomb....he carried it out....they brought it in again.....he carried it out again. The IRA gave up. That time.

    It's on Great Victoria Street, opposite the wonderful Crown Liquor Saloon and next door to the Opera House.

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    Divis Tower

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    Close-up of the top floors
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    The words 'Divis flats' resonate with me: they featured so strongly during the Troubles. Now demolished, only the 20-storey Divis Tower remains.

    The British Army took over the top two floors as an observation post. At the height of the Troubles, it is said that the only way they could access the post was by helicopter.

    In 1969 the first child was killed during the Troubles in this tower....Patrick Rooney, aged 9.

    It was strange to see Divis Tower still standing guard over the city centre, though the Army dismantled their post from 2005. You can't really miss it; it lies near where the Falls and Shankhill Roads meet.

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    The Big Fish.

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    The Big Fish

    It's a huge salmon, 10 metres long, beautifully blue and created from ceramics by John Kindness (wonderful surname!).

    The ceramic 'scales' are decorated with texts and images relating to the history of Belfast, including newspaper headlines and contributions from Belfast school children. There's also a time capsule inside with information about the city.

    It sits on Donegall Quay, near the Customs House. Worth having a read of its 'scales'.

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    See the green

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    Behind the Divis flats........
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    One thing which really surprised me about Belfast was how near the hills and the countryside are.

    I hadn't expected to look down side-streets and see the green.

    But I finally realised it's because Belfast, unlike so many UK cities, has not pulled down its Victorian and Edwardian buildings to replace them with towers of concrete and glass.

    I'm glad it didn't.....somehow, being able to see the countryside from the centre of a city makes one feel less confined, less claustrophobic.....the spirit is lifted as you glance down the side-street.

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    Writers' Square

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    Across the square to the cathedral
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    A new 'urban park' in front of Belfast Cathedral was created around 2002.

    Named 'Writers' Square' it is paved with 27 quotations from the great literary names of Northern Ireland, including Louis MacNeice and C S Lewis.

    It's a pleasant open space, not least because the developers retained the mature trees planted there (gifts from various bishops), although when I visited some of its local visitors had chosen it as a pleasant spot to drink a little alcohol.

    It's worth spending a few minutes reading the various quotations dotted about the square. Some are very thought-provoking indeed (see photo).

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    Spanish Civil War monument

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    No Paseran.
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    I didn't expect to find a monument in Belfast to those who lost their lives fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

    But there is one, in 'Writers' Square' opposite the cathedral, in the shade of a rather large tree.

    The phot of the plaque explains why it's there.

    'No Paseran.'

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    James Larkin

    by leics Updated Aug 6, 2010

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    James Larkin, orator and unionist
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    'The great are only great because we are on out knees. Let us rise!'

    James Larkin was an Irish trades union leader, born in Liverpool in 1875.

    In 1907 he moved to Belfast, and not only started up the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union but also the Irish Labour Party, and later the Workers' Union of Ireland.

    There's a statue of him on O'Connell street in Dublin, but I found this one tucked away in a narrow alley off Donegall Street, in Belfast's Cathedral quarter.

    The alley is called 'Donegall Street Place', under an archway on the right as you walk towards the cathedral. Look up for the sign.

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    The first maternity hospital?

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    Once a lying-in hospital....

    In 1794, the 'Ladies Humane Society' set up a 'lying-in' hospital in this building, to provide a safe environment for 'poor, respectable women' to have their babies.

    You can find the building at 25 Donegall Street, in the Cathedral quarter.

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    Bits of old Belfast......

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    As it once was (minus car)...
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    They do still exist, especially around what is now called 'the Cathedral quarter'.

    Narrow alleyways, some still cobbled, lead between high buildings....warehouses, offices......

    Take yourself back to the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s, when the port was a thriving place.......imagine the seamen and the hawkers, the drunks and the beggars, the loose women and the ragged poor desperate to get across the sea and away from the island of Ireland.......the smells of fish, beer, unwashed bodies, urine, sewage......the noise of clattering hooves and iron-bound wooden wheels, the cries of streetsellers......

    You can still find places to take you back, if you look........

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    C.S. Lewis

    by leics Written Aug 6, 2010

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    The Searcher

    C.S. Lewis is the author of the Narnia books.....'The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe' etc etc.

    Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898, and spent part of his childhood there, moving to a house on the outskirts of the city (Little Lea) when he was 7.

    The statue ..'The Searcher'....shows the hero of 'The Magician's Nephew', Professor Digory Kirke, entering the wardrobe which leads to Narnia. It was created by Ross Wilson, a local artist, and was unveiled on the centenary of Lewis' birth.

    You'll find it outside Holywood Arches library on Holywood Road, in East Belfast.

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  • suvanki's Profile Photo

    ‘The Waterfall of Souvenirs’

    by suvanki Updated Oct 15, 2009

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    ���The Waterfall of Souvenirs���
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    I'm afraid that my photos don't do justice to this mosaic sculpture located in the Europa Bus Station. It is entitled 'Waterfall of Souvenirs' and it was created by the Belfast born John Kindness.

    If you wander out to the riverside, to Donegal Quay, you'll find another of his works of art- 'Big Fish', which is covered in delft blue tiles. This was completed in 1999

    John Kindness was born in Belfast in 1951, but now lives in Dublin. He studied at Belfast College of Art.

    This new bus centre opened in 1989, and the sculpture was commissioned and completed in 1991. It was funded by Translink and the Arts Council of Belfast.

    The sculpture is 5 metres high and depicts a waterfall/avalanche of ceramic mosaics that show aspects of Irish memorabilia. It shows the places linked by the Ulsterbus service (from this terminus)
    The artist wanted to encapsulate a community feel, and asked for donations of ceramic souvenirs from the Ulster region. These were then broken down and sorted, and many were used in this work of art. Ulster Fries, Guinness (Although this is from Dublin), Whisky, shamrocks, The Giants Causeway, public buildings, cathedrals, churches, beauty spots, wildlife etc are all portrayed. Some pieces were made from scratch.

    I really liked this sculpture.

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    Monument to Unknown Women Worker

    by suvanki Written Oct 9, 2009

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    Monument to Unknown Women
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    Stepping outside the Europa bus station, I came across this bronze statue of two women. Since returning home, I have found out that it is a piece by Louise Walsh.

    It was originally commissioned by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland, then this was taken over by Glenbank Estates Limited, due to a disagreement over the interpretation of the planned theme.
    Apparently, the original plan was to remember Amelia Street (which was known as a 'Red Light Area') and to feature 2 women as cartoon figures.

    Louise Walsh objected to this, on the grounds that it was offensive to portray women this way. She suggested that instead, the figures should represent the struggles of women, faced with being underpaid in their employment or being unpaid for housework.

    Look at the statues and you'll see they have household articles, cash registers, telephones and a shopping basket attached, to represent these aspects of womens life, both as paid and unpaid workers.

    The statues depict strong women, not downtrodden, but battlers!

    Belfast owes a debt to their female citizens who toiled in the linen factories, making it the largest and most famous linen industry worldwide. Other Belfast women toiled in the factories, Shipyards, shops, offices and hospitals etc.

    In more modern times-'The Troubles' were a time of high unemployment, again the women of Belfast were heroic in continuing their struggle to earn money to support their families, and put food on the table.

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    The Cat Garden

    by St_Vincent Updated Jun 1, 2008

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    Within the Cave Hill Country Park and in the grounds of Belfast Castle you will find a circular Cat Garden which is nicely laid out with a pond in the middle. The name refers to a legend attached to the castle that says it’s residents will only have good fortune provided a white cat lives there. This legend is commemorated in the Cat Garden where there are apparently nine references to cats, some obvious and some hidden. Personally I only spotted seven and if you want to see them have a look at my Cat Garden travelogue.

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Belfast Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Belfast off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Belfast sightseeing.

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