Catalyst Arts Gallery
Belfasts Catalyst Arts Gallery is an off the beaten track artist led gallery space i visited back in October (2012), I love coming across these alternative gallery spaces in whatever city i visit. After some time trying to find the gallery (not well sign posted) I eventually found it down a side alley.
The space was beautifully presented with one of the best contemporary art exhibitions I've seen in a long time ( especially from a young volunteer led gallery ).
I thought it should get a mention here since the tourist office knew very little about it, when I asked for directions.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
The Lagan is the river which meets the sea in the middle of the city.
The part which is right in the city centre (before the river reaches the docks) has been regenerated in recent years, and is very pleasant now in most parts.
A useful open space to just stroll around or sit about if the weather permits.
These photos were taken on a wet January day, so don't show it at its best. I've been there in springtime as well.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
A fine military Museum.
Readers of my other pages will know that I am extremely fond of military history and, by association, military museums. I have been lucky enough to have visited many excellent examples but strangely, it was only on a recent visit to the city of my birth that I finally managed to visit the Museum of the Royal Ulster Rifles. In the nature of things military in the UK with cuts and amalgamations, this is not the only Regiment represented and the Museum represents numerous units from 1793 - present day. If you are interested, they are
"Royal Ulster Rifles, Royal Irish Rifles, 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot, 83rd Regiment of Foot (Fitch’s Grenadiers), 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot, 86th Regiment of Foot (Cuyler’s Shropshire Volunteers). Period 1793 to 1968. Later modern stakeholders are Royal Irish Rangers 1968-1992 and Royal Irish Regiment 1992 onward.".
Quite an impressive history as you can see, and not all units even raised in Ireland, never mind Ulster. As you can see from one of the images, it is anything but an impressive building and looks like what it is, part of an office block. It is actually a little difficult to find, you need to go along the little pathway to the left hand side of the main block. There is a sign to help you.
When you enter, you will be greeted by one or more of the very friendly staff there whi I take it to be ex-Servicement themselves. Passing the small but detailed diorama of the First World War trench and the small shop you enter a not overly single large room (pictured) which actually forms the total of the Museum open to the public. The staff did tell me they had many more exhibits but no space in which to exhibit them which seems a shame. you would think that a regiment which still serves with distinction in it's most modern incarnation could be given a decent space by the Government.
Small it may be but there is a lot to see crammed into the room although due to the size constraints there appears to be little order to the display, they are certainly not chronological. The good thing is that because it is small and quiet, the staff will give you more or less a guided tour if you show any sort of interest.
I shall talk you thorugh a few of the more interesting exhibits pictured. I should mention the photography first. Some of it is not a great quality as most exhibits are behind glass. I had asked permission to photograph which was freely given as long as it was not for commercial purposes. The attendant said he would love to open the cabinets for me but it was not allowed. He really was a lovely man.
The first is a print depicting a man called Labalaba which is not a name you would naturally associate with Ireland, but "Laba" was Fijiian and joined the British Army in 1961 in the Ulster Rifles, moving after four years to the Special Air Service. He served several times in Arabia and was killed in circumstances diplaying his extreme courage in a place called Mirbat, Dhofar in 1972. Posthumously awarded a Mention in Dispatches to go with his British Empire Medal, many in the military believed he should have been awarded the Victoria Cross which is the highest militay honour for bravery available. He is buried in Hereford, Headquarters town of the SAS.
The next picture shows the combat dress worn by Lt. Col. Tim Collins (retd.) as he made his now famous speech to Coalition forces in the Gulf in 2003 shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Interestingly, the speech was given at Camp Blair Mayne and there is a resonance in that. If you are not aware, Lt. Col. Blair Mayne, an Irish rugby international before the Second World War and a man of huge physical presence, was one of the founders of the SAS along with the Stirling brothers. Like Labalaba, his parent regiment was the RUR. Like Labalaba years later, he never received a VC despite having been cited for one by some very senior officers. The matter is still of controversy and one of the exhibits in the Museum is a letter from Major General Bob Laycock stating that the authorities did not know their business in not awarding the VC. Laycock was basically the OC of British Commandos during the war. Mayne did, however, finish the war with no less than four Distinguished Service Orders, a feat matched only by one RAF man. A copy of Laycock's letter to Mayne is pictured and again apologies for my ugly head in the glass reflection!
The final photo is a really quirky exhibit. When I was a child, I used to watch with fascination a TV series called Colditz which detailed the attempts of Allied servicemen to escape from the supposedly escape-proof Prisoner of War camp of that name. I even remember a board game of that name which I played with friends. What you see in the image are none other than the actual keys for the courtyard of Colditz Castle which were liberated at the end of the war by Lt. Dick Morgan of the RUR / 2 Commando Bde. I don't know why but I stood and stared at these for ages. Just to think of what they were and what they represented really drew me in.
I shall create a travelogue to detail some of the other exhibits as the site only allows fo five images here.
If I have whetted your appetite for a visit to the Museum, here are the logistics.
Opening hours are Tues-Fri, 10am-12.30pm & 2-4pm (2.30pm on Fri) although they add the caveat "please telephone first if possible." The opening times are merely targets as it is staffed by volunteers.
I quote directly from the attache website in relation to acessibility.
" Enter site using any of the footway gates, two with steps, to reach to the back of the shared car park. Railed outside RAMP to Museum. Museum Door STEP then 10cm. Library door STEP 10cm. NO internal ramp from Museum to Library." I shall leave the reader to determine whether this suits their needs.
Sadly, due to the small size, there are no public toilets accessible or otherwise. Neither are there any refreshment facilities. Admission is free although donations are gratefully received. Alternatively, you may wish to make a purchase from the gift shop although you will not be pressured to do so.
Definitely recommended for military history afficionados.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Budget Travel
The grand old Duke of York.
I don't want the reader of my Belfast pages to go away with the idea that it is nothing more than a collection of pub reviews but there is rather a good selection of excellent watering holes in the City. In my opinion, no visit is complete without a visit to one or two of them. I fully understand that not everybody drinks alcohol for various reasons but don't panic. All licensed premises will be happy to serve you soft drinks, indeed they like to do so as the profit mark-up is larger than on alcohol. Many will now offer tea or coffee as well.
One such haunt is the Duke of York in Commercial Court, a wonderful little place. I should mention that whilst there has been a pub here since the early 18th century this is not the full original building. Sadly that was bombed in 1973 and not rebuilt for some time. Loking inside though, you would think this had never happened as it is simply loaded to the gunwales with old sporting memorabilia, brweriana and all sorts of other things which make for some very interesting browsing.
I was there on an early midweek lunchtime in November and the place was not over-crowded although I believe it gets so at the weekends. The young barman was friendly enough and I was quickly engaged in conversation by a very, friendly gentleman standing beside me as I waited for my well-poured Guinness to arrive. Typical Belfast pub really. time was short as I had a few things to do so the one pint had to suffice but I could happily have stayed there longer.
A little piece of political trivia if you are interested in such things is that Gerry Adams the Sinn Fein politician used to work behind the bar here. If modern musical history is more your thing you may like to check out the PRS plaque on the wall showing that Snow Patrol first appeared live here in 1998. Just thought you might like to know.Related to:
- Wine Tasting
- Beer Tasting
- Historical Travel
How many can you spot?
Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland has long been known for it's murals, often on the gable walls of terrace houses and unmissable if you are passing by. When I lived in Belfast in the 1970's and early 80's these were entirely "tribal" depicting terrorist activity and political dogma, historical events glorifying one or other political view, "martyrs for the Cause" (whchever cause it might be) and so on. I must say that no matter what I thought about the political messages being promoted I was always very impressed by the standard of the artwork. Bizarrely, in all the years I lived there and all the people I knew, I never knew anyone who painted them or even anyone who knew anyone who painted them. I never saw one being constructed, they just always seemed to be there.
Times move on and much of the politically motivated stuff has gone, although some still remains, but it appears the Northern Ireland love of slapping a bit of paint on any available wall endures. On a recent trip back to Belfast I was walking along Commercial Court in the centre of the City. commercial Court is a small pedestrianised street and home to the excellent Duke of York Bar (see seperate tip) and my eye was drawn into a small passageway which appeared to lead to a small carpark. Yes, I know. Only in Northern Ireland could you have a carpark in a pedestrianised street but there it is. What drew my attention was the very well executed mural you see pictured featuring all sorts of famous Irish people. I'll let you guess who the rest of them are but I shall explain one of them to you.
The long-haired guy wearing the checked shirt is none other than the late, great and much missed Rory Gallagher. Not only had Rory a great affection for Belfast, his was the first live gig I ever saw in the nearby Ulster Hall in 1974. I watched him and decided I wanted to play like he did. Nearly 40 years later I am still trying to play like he did. He really was one of the blues greats and I even managed to have a pint with him one night in another Belfast pub before a different gig. I was old enough to drink then! Rory has always had a sepcial place in my musical heart and indeed has featured on my homepage here just about since I joined VT. Apart from the various musicians depicted, there are actors, comedians, sports people and many many more. It really is worth a look if you are passing and you can see if you can guess who they all are.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Certainly changed a bit.
A frequent haunt of my youth was "the EGG", or to give it it's proper title, the Eglantine Inn. A great traditional pub, usually busy, with great Guinness and a friendly atmosphere. I returned there in February 2005 to find the place entirely changed.
Don't get me wrong, it's very well done and a great place for a drink or a bite to eat but it seems to be like so many other "cloned" wine bars, and has lost a little of it's atmosphere.
Still worth a visit, though.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
Lest we forget.
I was recently on a trip back home to Northern Ireland and had just visited the rather interesting St. Anne's Cathedral, which I suggest you do, and was wandering fairly aimlessly wondering what to do next in the city I was born in and now barely recognise! I saw a roadsign pointing down Talbot Street to the Northern Ireland War Memorial. Now I know Belfast has changed a lot since I left Northern Ireland about a quarter of a century ago but Talbot street is not exactly the champs Elysee, the Mall or Broadway and I could not for the life of me remember any war memorial. Intrigued, I began to walk and was shortly confronted by the fairly basic looking office building you see in one of the images. By this time, I was really confused as my idea of a war memorial is a statue or monument of some kind.
Do not be put off by getting into the place, which is not as tricky as it appears at first. Simply press the appropriate button on the intercom to the right of the main door and speak to the attentant who will buzz you in. I believe this procedure is because the Memorial shares the building with offices which probably explains the architecture. I really wasn't sure what to expect and what I got was a fairly small space which looked like cross between a pretty small one room Museum and some sort of religious place. the latter impression was generated by the rather splendid stained glass piece (pictured) which dominates the window area to the front of the building.
On a midweek November morning I was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the only person there so I went for a chat with the chap on the desk who had admitted me. Enquiring what exactly the place was about, he informed me that it is, and I quote directly here from the excellent attached website,
"A Memorial to those who sacrificed their lives in World War One and World War Two.
A Hall of Friendship to record the friendship between the people of Northern Ireland and the American and Belgian forces during World War Two.
Offices for Service Charities.
Entertainment facilities for ex-Servicemen."
So that explained that then. He also informed me that the exhibits had all been in a building called Memorial House in Waring Street which had been opened in 1963. As I have mentioned in other Belfast tips, I lived in Belfast for over ten years and in Northern Ireland for the first 28 years of my life and yet I never knew of that building. Strange how you sometimes don't see things on your doorstp, isn't it? He told me to look round, ask any questions and replied to my request for permission to take photos with a cheery Belfast, "Help yourself, big man". As a matter of principle I never use flash in places with old artefacts, so apologies if some of the images are underlit.
A lot of the exhibition space deals with the Blitz and the Second World War activities in Northern Ireland. If you mention the Blitz to most people, they will mention London, possibly Liverpool or coventry, but few people realise that Belfast was also attacked albeit that it was at the extreme range of the Luftwaffe's flying range from occupied Europe. The reason for this was predominantly the Harland and Wolff shipyard and nearby Short and Harland turning out bomber aircraft. There were also many factories manufacturing munitions and uniforms.
I remember being told about the Blitz by my late paternal grandparents and there is a family story that my Grandfather actually managed to sleep through one including a bomb landing in his street! I have seen where the bomb landed as there is one completely incongruous detached house in a long street of semi-detacheds but how true the tale is I don't know, much as I like it.
There are many very interesting things to see and I spent considerably more time there than I though I would in such a limited space. I had known that many overseas troops had been stationed in Northern Ireland in the Second World War, including Canadien troops who were stationed close to the village where my family still live but I was unaware of how many free Belgian forces were billeted in my home country and of the continuing links between the two countries. Indeed, I learned quite a lot which is undoubtedly the purpose.
I shall just explain a couple of the images which are not self-explanatory. The two man diorama is of the Home Guard, the so-called "Dad's Army" of those too old, not medically fir or in reserved occupations who were recruited to guard the "home front". The Northern Ireland Home Guard was disbanded in December 1944 when the Germans were no longer in a position to invade Northern Ireland. This had been a distinct possibility earlier in the War.
The cape is remarkable. It belonged to Molly Lea, an Army nurse in the Second World War. Whilst the outside it is a standard issue garment, the inside is covered in unit and other badges given to her by grateful patients. It is truly fascinating to look at.
The final image displays two things. The mannequin is there to showcase a uniform of the Auxiliary Territorial Service from the Second World War. I believe H.M. Queen Elizabeth II was actually a member of the ATS during that period. The portrait to the right is of a great favourite son of Belfast, a man called Leading Seaman Jack Magennis VC. Magennis was a diver on a midget submarine in the Far East during the Second World War. On one particular mission against the Japanese cruiser Takao he displayed almost lunatic bravery to complete his mission despite huge personal risk, exhaustion and the very great chance of discovery. He was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross (the highest military bravery decoration in the UK) for his actions. I am glad that he survived the war and lived a long while after, dying in 1986 at the age of 67.
I had never heard of this place, had no idea what to expect, and was hugely and pleasantly surprised. If you have read this and are visiting Belfast, I do hope you can visit and see for yourself.
Here are the logistics. The Memorial is open Monday - Friday from 1030 to 1630. The website does not make specific mention but it is on the ground floor with no steps so should be wheelchair accessible. I did not see any toilets either accessible or otherwise. Admission is free although obviously donations are very much appreciated.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Museum Visits
Come write me down.
If you visit the fascinating St. Anne's Cathedral, and I suggest you do, you should spend a little time either before or adter in the open area just across the road. This area is known as Writers Square and, as the name suggests, reflects the rich literary history of Northern Ireland and Belfast in particular.
I am going to do something slightly unusual in one of my tips here. Ordinarily I recommend looking up anywhere you go as you see so much more than if you wander around looking at normal eye level but in this instance I would encourage you to look down. The reason for this is that there are quotations from 27 now deceased Northern Ireland poets, playwrights and authors and I have included a couple of random examples here to illustrate the point. Regrettably, the day I visited last was a fairly dismal autumnal one and, if you have visited Belfast in November, you will know just how dismal that can actually be.
Amongst the writers commemorated are the poets Lois MacNeice and John Hewitt, novelists Sam Hanna Bell and CS Lewis and playwright Stewart Parker. I suppose they did not wish to feature living writers when they laid the place out in 2002 as they did not wish to show favouritism. The two examples I have included are from Thomas Carnduff and one in Gaelic from Robert McAdam.
This pleasant space provides a walkthrough to North Street should you be going that way. It is indicative of the so-called "peace dividend" which has led to a complete overhaul of Belfast City Centre. Definitely worth a bit of a look.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
Why did it take so long.
On a recent visit to Belfast I was walking past St. Ann's Cathedral en-route to another place and it suddenly dawned on me that I had bever actually been inside it. This surprised me as I spent the first 28 years of my life on Northern Ireland and 10 of those in Belfast itself. Although not religious now, I was brought up in the Anglican faith and this is the major place of worship for that religion in my "home town" so how did the situation arise? Frankly I have no idea but I determined myself to rectify the situation and I am very glad I did.
After the obligatory VT outside photo, I entered the Cathedral (use the door to the left as you look at the front). I was immediately greeted by a very friendly member of staff who offered to answer any questions I might have and suggested a few things worthy of looking at. I basically described a clockwise path round the Cathedral and this is the order I shall mention points of interest.
The first thing you will come to is the fairly small Chapel of the Holy Spirit, consecrated in 1932 on the 1500th anniversary of St. Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland. the main feature here is the very intricate mosaic work depicting Patrick's arrival and it is well worth a few minutes just to appreciate the amount of work that went into it.
As you walk round don't forget to look up which is a thing I often say when decribing places. the tops (capitals) off all the large pillars depict all manner of things from ancients Celtic scenes to medicine, scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, music, shipbuilding naturally and even one depicting Freemasonic symbols.
Walking towards the altar, the next thing on the left is the Regimental Chapel of the Royal Irish Rangers and Royal Irish Regiment, including the Regiments which preceeded them before almalgamations etc., including the Ulster Defence Regiment. The Chapel is relatively new, having only been cnsecrated in 1981. There are numerous things to look at here including a list of Victoria Cross recipients from the Regiments, a Roll of Honour and even a prayerbook made from ricepaper by a prisoner of war during the Korean War. As is usual in such places, there are various Regimental Colours laid up here as well. I was particularly impressed by the stained glass window (pictured) which incorporates the Regimental badges of the units involved and the famous Binyon verse.
Appropriately, just beside the Regimental Chapel there is a memorial stained glass window on the theme of peace dedicated to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (G.C.) which was the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 - 2001. The Colours of the RUC(GC) are also laid up here.
Carrying on in your clockwise direction you can actually do quite a remarkable thing, which is to walk behind the High Altar. This is not that usual in Anglican Churches but it allows you to walk unbhindered from the North to South aisles wothout distrubing a service which may be taking place. Things to look for here, amopngst others, are a memorial for the Kegworth air disaster when many Northern Ireland people perished and a Cross of Nails made with nails from the fabric of Coventry Cathedral in England after it was destroyed by German bombing in the Second World War.
As you complete the ambulatory (the area behind the altar), you may want to deviate slightly to have a look at the choir which is the central portion of the Cathedral raised up the steps. You may notice an interesting thing in that there are two Bishop's Chairs. This is unique in the Anglican Church as St. Anne's is indeed the "home" church for two Bishops, those of Connor and Down and Dromore. That is not three Bishops, Down and Dromore is one Diocese.
You are now in the South aisle and the first thing you will see is the Chapel of Unity completed in 1974. The theme here is ecumenism and regular inter-faith meetings take place here which, in a place like Northern Ireland, can surely only be a good thing. The stained glass windows represent various youth organisations. On the wall just beside the Chapel of Unity is a fascinating piece of needlework which is a memorial pall for the victims of the Titanic Disaster. It was particularly poignant as I visited in 2012, exactly 100 years after that tragedy. If you look closely you will see 1517 gold crosses, Stars of David and crescents to represent the 1517 people lost and their varying religious faiths (Chritianity, Judaism and Islam respectively). although modern and therefore with little history I was very taken with this pice and did spend some time looking at it. I suggest you do the same just to appreciate the intricacy of the work contained in it.
Just past the pall you will come to a tomb which is unusually the only one in the whole Cathedral. Most other cathedrals have numerous tombs to the "great and the good". This may be partially due to the fact that St. Anne's was only actually consecrated in 1904 and the practice was probably less prevalent. The tomb is that of Lord Edward Carson of Duncairn who was the political leader in Northern Ireland between 1911 - 1921 in the very turbulent times leading up to the partition of Ireland. The simple stone, marked only Carson, is of Mourne granite.
Continuing, you will come to the Baptistry with it's font of black, red and white marble quarried in various parts of Ireland. I always tell people to look up but it is worth looking down here at the very intricate marble mosaic work on the floor.
Walk back to the main door (which will probably be shut) and you will nearly have completed your circuit but pause a while at the rear of the central passageway and have a look all the way up the Cathedral. Then, look down again. That is twice in one tip, unheard of behaviour for me! Two things to note. One is the tiled labyrinth on the floor. If you study it or even walk it you will find that the white path (goodness) will eventually lead you to the main aisle but the black path leads nowhere. Keep looking doen and look at the floor towards the High Altar. You will see that the floor is extremely uneven and this is due to subsidence. The entire building, although barely over a century old, is sinking into the alluvial ooze on which it is built. This is already causing problems that are going to be expensive to fix so, whilst it is free to enter the Cathedral, your donations are very much appreciated and £2 is the suggested amount.
Here are the other logistics. The Cathedral is open from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm seven days a week, but may occasionally be closed for a special service. It is always closed to tourists from 11:00 to 12:30 on Sundays for the Sung Eucharist service. The Cathedral is fully wheelchair accessible.
Obviously I can only display five images here due to the way the website operates and I had gone on a bit of a shutter frenzy in the Cathedral so I have put further images on this travelogue. Please feel free to take a look.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Religious Travel
A walk in the park.
The Botanic Gardens in Belfast are a very pleasant place to spend some time, and they are also a great reminder of my childhood. I used to walk through them every day to get the bus home from school, so my recent return was more than a little nostalgic. In truth, nothing much has changed, and I suspect it has been thus since the Gardens opened in 1828. Mind you, in those days you would needed to have been fairly well-heeled to get in as it was a private operation with the public only admitted on Sundays! All that changed in 1895 when the place passed into public ownership and then, as now, any Tom, Dick or Harry (even me) is entitled to wander about it's pleasant grassy areas, walks and, well, gardens.
There are a couple of notable features, not including the Ulster Museum which is located here and is the subject of a seperate tip. The first is the Palm House (pictured), which looks as quintessentially 19th century as it's 1840 completion date suggests. It is one of the first of it's type in the world and was built by a chap called Richard Turner who went on to build the more famous glasshouse at Kew Gardens in London. I actually quite like it, but again, that may just be the nostalgia kicking in.
The second building of note is the Tropical Ravine, a somewhat grandiose name for what is merely another greenhouse. As the name suggests, you enter at ground level and you are on a balcony with the plants growing in a ravine below you. It is a much more prosaic looking building and I really cannot get enthused about it, although botanists will undoubtedly find much to delight them.
If you have small children with you, you can amuse them in the play area provided.
One word of caution though. On the occasional sunny day that Belfast gets, the place becomes completely overrun with students from the nearby Queen's University!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Situated at the east side of the City Hall, this is the cities version of the London Eye. The wheel is open daily & gives you spectacular views of the city & beyond from a height of 200 feet. The ride takes about 12 minutes & the current price for an adult is £6.50.
The Giant's Causeway is located about an hour and a half's drive from Belgast City (by motorway - longer by coastal route).
Quiet simply the Casueway is breathtaking and one of Ireland's most stunning pieces of landscape. To visit the north of Ireland and not visit the Causeway is unthinkable.
Tghe causeway was formed thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption which resulted in the formation of approx. 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns. The sight is breathtaking and is one of the world's most unique sights.
Legend has it that the giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill (fee-yun mok cool) constructed the causeway as a crossing to Scotland to fight another scoottish giant. The legend reports that Fionn fell asleep before he made it to Scotland and that the Scottish Giant came looking for him. When he saw the giant coming, Fionn was scared and asked his wife Úna to wrap him in a blanket and pretended he was a baby. When the Scottish giant saw the 'baby' he thought that Fionn Mac Cumhaill was the father and ran away himself, thinking that if the baby was this big, the father (Fionn) must be enourmous!
I will soon have a more detailed description of the Giant's Causeway and sights which will be posted on my Co. Antrim page.Related to:
- National/State Park
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
Located 20 minutes east of the Giant's Causeway is the famous Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. There has been a rope bridge in existence at this location for 350 years and was primarily used as a crossing for fishermen to the small Carrick Island. The bridge is 20 metres long and is suspended 30 metres above the rocks and sea below.
Visitors flock to the rope bridge not just for the thrill of crossing it but also for the amazing views, scenery and wildlife around the coastal area of Carrick-A-Rede and Ballintoy. Views across the sea towards Rathlin Island and across to Scotland can also be enjoyed on a clear day.
Many people who come with the intention of crossing the bridge turn back when seeing it and there have even been incidents of people crossing onto the island but refusing to complete the return and had to be lifted off the island by the coastguard or boat. Don't worry though, the bridge can withstand a weight of up to 10 tonnes!
More details to follow on my Co. Antrim pages
The Bot - an institution.
OK, I admit it, I am looking through slightly rose-coloured spectacles here, but I absolutely love the Bot. The Botanic Inn, to give it it's proper name, was where I spent many happy days in my youth. I always try to get there when I am back in Belfast.
The Bot is popular with students (Queens University is nearby) and can get very lively in the evenings. It serves a great pint of Guinness and the menu, when i last visited in early 2005 seems a lot more extensive than it used to be.
There is quite an emphasis on sports, with large screens and numerous televisions. As you can see from the photograph, it was rugby time when I was last there.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
The View From Belfast Castle
One of the stops on the Minibus Tour of Belfast was a midmorning coffee stop at Belfast Castle. Originally built by the Normans in the 12th century, a later building was burnt in1708. It was rebuilt again and finished in 1870.
The Castle is a favorite site for weddings having beautiful manicured grounds. There is a coffe shop in the bottom, an antique shop, and small museum. Unfortunatly, at the time of my visit some large scale renovations were being done and large portions of the castle were inaccessible. However, the view of the city is quite spectacular and if one desires there are several hiking trails to the top of the hill above the Castle.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
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