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
    Here's the archway
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Best Rated Off The Beaten Path in Belfast

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    Beaches

    by Catspjm Updated Jan 24, 2004

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    Burrrrrrr...

    Strange but true.
    The north Antrim coast has some of the best beaches in Europe, with a total of 6 having Blue Flag status.
    Here our intrepid explorer Maaaarii is found braving the elements on Portstewart strand. One of our finest examples. She assures me that the woman swimming is from Latvia. Apparently they are even more insane than Estonians :-)

    You may also notice that Maaaari had to change after the unfortunate incident at the Bushmills Distillery

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    Peace and tranquility

    by Catspjm Updated Mar 21, 2004

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    Wild life

    On a slightly more serious note Belvoir (Pronounced 'Beaver') Forest is one of Belfast?s best kept secret. Just 6 km from the City Centre Belvoir Park forest is a working forest within a city. It is ideally placed to offer city dwellers and those from further a field a vibrant forest teaming with wildlife and many fine tree specimens within easy reach of Belfast's outer ring. It covers 94 hectares and runs along the south bank of the River Lagan.
    There are a number of historic sites to be found within the forest, for example the Norman motte dates back to the 12th century and the ruined graveyard was recorded in 14th century documents. The estate itself was enclosed by the Hill's, a plantation family, around the 1740's. They built a house where the car park is now and the existing buildings, which date from the same era, were farm buildings belonging to the estate. The Ice House, built into the side of the motte also dates from this time.
    All in all a great way to spend an afternoon, especially if you are blessed with a glint of sunshine.

    Footnote.
    Officially the last wolf in Ireland was shot in 1786. Rumors still abound however. Visit the part at dusk, close your eyes, strain your ears and sometimes in the distance...

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    The Mourne Mountains

    by Catspjm Written Jan 24, 2004

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    Mountains

    The highest mountains in Northern Ireland are the Mournes. Situated about 70km from Belfast they are well worth a visit and provide an excellent day out for a gentle walk or some serious climbing for the more adventurous.
    Slieve (Irish for mountain) Donard is the highest peak. At just under 3000 feet it is smaller than Everest, so oxygen is seldom required. However yaks and sherpas are available for hire in the general area. Be sure to establish a price before setting off on the trek and it is wise to check that you are actually being rented a yak, as opposed to a large dog disguised in a fur coat with horns sellotaped to it’s head. Caveat emptor, I believe is the expression. You have been warned…

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    Mourne Mountains Pt 2

    by Catspjm Written Jan 24, 2004

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    The Mournes

    Due to the booming safari trade in the early 1970’s most of the indigenous and more exotic wild life has become extinct, due to over hunting. Lions, tigers, zebras and wildebeest have all but vanished. On vary rare occasions you can still catch a glimpse something special.
    It is however fairly certain that you will see quite a bit of ‘the big four.’ Sheep, cows, rabbits and giraffes. Rabbits however are becoming less common.

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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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    The Cregagh estate, East Belfast

    by kranstonakov Updated Dec 19, 2006

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    A quick trip from the city centre will take you to the Cregagh Estate, an area not renowned for much. However here you will find the Home of George Best, the greatest footballer in the worl ever. There is a mural in dedication to George and gives you a chance to experience the rel side to Belfast in a local area. If you do make the trip head to the Rossetta Bar on the South of the estate, here youl see any football match thats on , you can play pool and foods bigger and cheaper then the city centre.
    Why not take a trip around east belfast? The cregagh road, newtownards road and belmont road are all littered with shops restaurants and of course, bars and clubs! Get the 6A metro bus from the city centre to reach the cregagh.

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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 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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    You won't believe the views

    by scanos Updated Jun 5, 2006

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    The shoreline
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    Belfast has a great cycle path which runs from Lisburn through the city centre and along the South East coast of Antrim for around 20 miles. The network was voted the best urban cycle path in the United Kingdom in 2006. Should you not have your own bike then hire one at Hazelbank park, some 4 miles along the north foreshore.

    Join the cycle path in Belfast City Centre at the Queen Elizabeth bridge which crosses the Lagan near Musgrave Street. Proceed in an easterly direction past the Seacat terminal through Clarendon dock. Have a look at the dry dock and enjoy views across the lagan towards the Odyssey and the Titanic quarter. Have a pint (of water) in Pat's bar and then head along Duncrue Street / Dargan Crescent. This will take you to the North Shore cycle path. Bring your camera for some great shots of the local bird life and Cavehill. Continue along the picturesque path until you come to Whiteabbey and onwards to Jordanstown University.

    For the more adventurous travel another 4 miles to Carrickfergus and its castle. Some 5 miles past this you can continue to Whitehead. There is a magnificent coastal path here which you should really experience.

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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 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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    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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    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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    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 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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Belfast Off The Beaten Path

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